CENTRE POMPIDOU Special Program

 

                                             

 

Presented with a live soundtrack by our special guest, pianist Mircea Tiberian, on one of the films.

 

The NATIONAL CENTER FOR ART AND CULTURE GEORGES POMPIDOU was born out of the President Georges Pompidou’s will to create, in the heart of Paris, an original cultural center, entirely dedicated to modern and contemporary art, where the visual arts will meet music, cinema, literature...

 

 

True to its interdisciplinary vocation, the CENTRE POMPIDOU organizes and presents exhibitions and events – fiction film and documentary screenings, conferences and symposia, concerts and dance shows – of an international level, many of them traveling afterwards both in France and abroad.

 

The CINEMA COLLECTION of the CENTRE POMPIDOU NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART/ CENTRE FOR INDUSTRIAL CREATION consists of films from experimental filmmakers and artists and installation art on film.

 

 

In 1976, Pontus Hulten, the first director of the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART at the CENTRE POMPIDOU commissioned Peter Kubelka, one of the major representatives of the Experimental School, to create a program entitled "A History of Cinema”, program for which the museum purchased the first 100 films that form the core of the collection. This collection, unique in the world, consists of around 1300 works, all made on film, by visual artists and filmmakers of all geographical and cultural backgrounds. From VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE, by Georges Méliès (1902) to JEWEL by Hassan Khan (2010), the collection covers more than a century of experimental and artistic cinematic practices, developed outside the mainstream cinema industry.

 

The Museum acquires, each year, new works, historical or contemporary, which it preserves in their original film format; it conducts restoration campaigns (in 1995 all the films of Man Ray were restored), thus contributing to the preservation of the cinema heritage, which it is responsible of, as well as of its distribution, for which it uses today all the means offered by the digital technology.

Contact: film@centrepompidou.fr

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THE SURREALIST CINEMA, by Philippe-Alain Michaud

 

We usually consider that the birth of the experimental cinema coincides with the emergence of avant-garde movements of the twenties, particularly of Dada and Surrealism. However, the main difference between the surrealist cinema and the dada cinema is probably the return to the story.

 

MAN RAY (in his films THE STARFISH and LE MYSTERE DU CHATEAU DU DE), GERMAINE DULAC (in THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN), HANS RICHTER (in GHOSTS BEFORE BREAKFAST) and LUIS BUNUEL (in AN ANDALUSIAN DOG), they all go back to the story and re-use the film for narrative purposes, something which, few years earlier, has been deliberately rejected by the leaders of the Dada movement. While dada cinema (like dada poetry, sculpture or painting) marked a kind of active destruction of subjectivity and, with this, of meaning, the Surrealism’s return to the story marks also a return to the subject. This is why the surrealists who refuse the aestheticising nature of the dadaist cine-photography, of MAN RAY`s RETOUR A LA RAISON and FERNAND LEGER`s BALLET MECANIQUE, will defend the search for pure objectivity and will claim, unlike the avant-gardes, the influence of the comic cinema.

 

It is precisely for these realistic reasons that Georges Bataille defends AN ANDALUSIAN DOG in the Documents magazine : "(the movie) distinguishes itself from the ordinary avant-garde productions which one might be tempted to confuse it with, because here the script is dominant. It is true that some very explicit facts come one after the other without logic, but they penetrate so far into horror, that the spectators get as deeply and directly involved as in the adventure films. Involved and even, to be more precise, im-prisoned, without any artifice: do these spectators know, in fact, where the authors of this film will stop? How can one not notice how horror becomes fascinating – and also how only this horror is brutal enough to break these very prison bars."1 Yet, this return of the Surrealism to the subject is a return to a split subject, marked by the influence of dreams and unconscious, delivering morphing figures and destabilizing forms,: "The eye is a vegetal form of life, the heart is an animal and the human face is an element of mineralogy", as Blaise Cendrars wrote in the first number of Bifur magazine, in 1929.

 

The main point of the surrealist cinematography is, in fact, the paradoxical use of the cinematic and photographic images, that is to say, of the whole system of the photographic impression: the image is not intended, as it is in the conventional use of cinema and photography, to reproduce reality, but to transform it, to show the ability of the reproducibility techniques to exceed the appearances, to lead to something that exceeds or transgresses reality, to reveal the invisible, often hidden and unexpected faces of this reality and images taken directly from the stream of thoughts.

 

 

1Georges Bataille, « Œil », Documents, no 4, septembre 1929, rubrique « Chronique – Dictionnaire », p. 216, note 1 ; rééd. Paris, Éditions Jean-Michel Place, 1991.

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CURATOR: PHILIPPE-ALAIN MICHAUD is a curator at the CENTRE POMPIDOU, in charge of the cinema collection. He is the author of "Aby Warburg et l’image en mouvement", Paris, 2012, and of many other articles on the relationships between cinema and modern and contemporary art. He has also curated several exhibitions on cinema, including "Le mouvement des images", Paris, Centre Pompidou, 2006, "Nuits électriques", Moscow and Gijon, Spain (2010), "Tapis volants" Rome and Toulouse, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE: JONATHAN POUTHIER (b. 1983) - since January 2012, he is in charge of the programming of the cinema department of National Museum of Modern Art CENTRE POMPIDOU, Paris. Graduated from LA FEMIS (Ecole nationale supérieure des métiers de l'image et du son), his researches are focused on cinema exhibition and distribution practices inside the museum circuit. He was also in charge with the acquisitions for the Coproduction Office Berlin and associated to the curatorial project of KOW Berlin gallery. He is also curator of the exhibition Abweichung (Outsiders) at Brandenburger Kunstverein, 2011.





AN ANDALUSIAN DOG (16’, France, 1928) Read more

Director: LUIS BUÑUEL

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At the opening night for the film AN ANDALUSIAN DOG, LUIS BUÑUEL said he filled his pockets with rocks, ready to defend himself in case of a negative response from the audience. Fortunately, the audience was pleasantly shocked and the film ran eight more months after the first screening. As this anecdote shows, one of the main points in surrealist filmmaking is to fearlessly fight conformism; from this point of view, it can be said without any exaggeration that AN ANDALUSIAN DOG has one of the most powerful images in the film history: the blade of a razor slicing through an eye.



GHOSTS BEFORE BREAKFAST (6’, Germany, 1928) Read more

Director: HANS RICHTER

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Challenging the art standards of its time, GHOSTS BEFORE BREAKFAST offers a new unexpected perspective on reality, transfiguring this reality via the surrealistic fantasy. Clocks, legs, ladders, hats and people undergo total irrational happenings in unusual settings. Men have beards that magically appear and disappear before the viewer's eyes, hats fly around in the air, tea cups fill up by themselves, objects and characters move in reverse etc.



THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN (41’, France, 1928) Read more

Director: GERMAINE DULAC

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As Bunuel wrote is his autobiography, surrealist filmmakers “were constantly fighting a society they despised. Their principal weapon wasn`t guns, of course; it was scandal”. When THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN premiered in Paris on February 9th, 1928, it caused a massive scandal and controversy. Bold and confusing, the film is a captivatingly macabre exploration of the repressed violence and eroticism, uncovering the unconscious of a clergyman who falls in love with the wife of a general.



THE STARFISH (21’, France, 1928) Read more

Director: MAN RAY

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“Desnos’s poem was like a scenario for a film, consisting of fifteen or twenty lines, each line presenting a clear, detached image of a place or of a man and a woman. There was no dramatic action, yet all the elements for a possible action", says MAN RAY about the poem which inspired his film. Following the ambiguous redwire of a "possible action", THE STARFISH reunites all those precisely defined characteristics of MAN RAY's filmography, such as the use of repetitive images, as well as many camera effects, like low angle shots and distortion of the camera focus.