The Island Club, in collaboration with the Lemesos International Documentary Festival, presents Some Letters by Eric Baudelaire, a two-part exhibition comprising a film projection and three works of written correspondence, taking place in both The Island Club and the Evagoras Lanitis Centre.
PART I: The Island Club, 6 July – 8 August 2019
To the Right Honourable Baroness Thatcher
I recently learned that upon assuming office at 10 Downing St, you drafted four handwritten letters of last resort. These letters, kept in a safe within another safe onboard Britain’s nuclear submarines, contained your instructions to the captains in the event that yourself, along with most of your compatriots, were to perish in a nuclear strike on Great Britain. ... What I am about to do here, very respectfully but quite seriously, is ask you to tell me the content of your four invisible letters. ...
When he isn’t working on his films, Eric Baudelaire writes letters – like the one sent to Margaret Thatcher on 9 February 2011, and subsequently to John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Theresa May. Initiated in response to a request to create a public monument, Baudelaire’s correspondence inquires about the contents of the elusive “letters of last resort”. Penned by each Prime Minister upon the assumption of office, and addressed to the commanders of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines, these sealed letters allegedly contain instructions for the use of Britain’s strategic weapons in the eventuality of England’s nuclear annihilation. The Prime Ministers’ responses, along with Baudelaire’s original letters, comprise Ante-Memorial (2011–present). Conceptualised as a public sculpture, the work both rewrites and reverses the concept of a ‘memorial’: rather than being carved out of marble, it takes the form of an exchange of correspondence; rather than commemorating a historical event, it proposes that the monument be built before the tragedy, with the hope that the latter will never materialise.
Dear Sir / Madam,
You are leaving Europe, but where are you going?
Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Eric Baudelaire initiated a correspondence with the 650 members of the House of Commons and the 800 members of the House of Lords. The responses comprise Where are you going? (2018–present). This timely work will receive its inaugural showing at The Island Club, where it will be presented in daily instalments, with an additional letter unveiled on each day of the exhibition.
PART II: Evagoras Lanitis Centre, 1 – 8 August 2019
Following its secession from Georgia in 1993, Abkhazia has become something of a paradox. Although a territory with borders, a government, a flag, and a language, it is only recognised as a state by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru, and Syria. Caught in a liminal state between existence and non-existence, Abkhazia invites all kinds of questions: by what criteria can a state be considered to exist? Is the idea of the ‘state’ based on inclusion or exclusion? How does one go about building a new state? Those that arrived and some that were lost (2014) explores these questions through Eric Baudelaire’s personal correspondence with Maxim Gvinjia, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia.
Baudelaire and Gvinjia’s correspondence is also the basis for the 103-minute film projection Letters to Max (2014). As Gvinjia records himself answering Baudelaire’s letters, Baudelaire’s images of everyday life in Abkhazia create a sense of somber poeticism, highlighting both the fragility and the resilience of the self-proclaimed Republic of Abkhazia.
Eric Baudelaire (b. 1973) is an artist and filmmaker based in Paris, France. After training as a political scientist, Baudelaire established himself as a visual artist with a research-based practice incorporating photography, printmaking and video. His feature films Also Known as Jihadi (2017), Letters to Max (2014), The Ugly One (2013) and The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images (2011) have circulated widely in film festivals (including Locarno, Toronto, New York, FID Marseille, and Rotterdam). When shown within exhibitions, Baudelaire’s films are part of broad installations that include works on paper, performance, publications, and public programs, in projects such as APRÈS at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2017), and The Secession Sessions, which have travelled to the Berkeley Art Museum (2015), Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015), Bétonsalon in Paris (2014), and Bergen Kunsthall (2014).
Major solo exhibitions include: Witte de With, Rotterdam (2017); Fridericianum, Kassel (2014); Beirut Art Center (2013); Gasworks, London (2012); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010). Baudelaire has also participated in the 2017 Whitney Biennale, the 2014 Yokohama Triennale, Mediacity Seoul 2014, and the 2012 Taipei Biennial.
In the context of the Lemesos International Documentary Festival, The Island Club also presents The Sun Panics, a screening programme in honour of pioneering film director, screenwriter, actor and photographer Agnès Varda (1951-2019). The programme includes a selection of short films by contemporary artists, as well as one of Varda’s own short films. Selection by Denise Araouzou.