Circuses and Taxidermists by Sunday Narratives

Τhe screening program Sunday Narratives presents “Circuses and Taxidermists”, a program of four short films by the visual artists and directors Pauline Curnier Jardin and Assaf Gruber at Cinema Riviera. The screening will be followed with a talk with both directors in English.

The awarded films Blutbad Parade, 2015 and Explosion Ma Baby, 2016 by Pauline Curnier Jardin and Binding, 2011 and The Conspicuous Parts, 2018 by Assaf Gruber have been shown at exhibitions and festivals such as the Venice Biennale, Tate Modern, London, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and the International Short film Festival of Oberhausen, among others.

Pauline Curnier Jardin, "Explosion ma baby", 2016, video still

Blutbad Parade by Pauline Curnier Jardin is the story of a phantom circus: it returns every hundred years in order to play again on the site of original violence, relating to its audience a few of the warts and hyperboles of that fateful day. In its aesthetic form, this film poses the riddle of the monstrous simultaneity of three notions: war, the artistic avant-garde, and revolution. The circus tells of the great circus; a metaphor for collapse, surge, and cathartic explosion. In 1916 Karlsruhe underwent one of the most tragic events of this small border city’s history. The French air force bombed a circus in the middle of a performance, killing hundreds of civilians, including many women and children. An event common in contemporary warfare was close to unheard of during World War I’s trench wars, which saw otherwise minimal civilian casualties. With a gesture toward the poetic and the carnivalesque she seeks to come to liberal terms with this tragic - and in no ways comical story. Woven into her approach are many of the strands she has sought to bring forward in the past: the history of women, of foreigners, of the marginalized and wayward, of monsters and innocents, as well as love of art and art history, of painting, image, and film. War and circus! Certainly these two things have been creating films since the medium’s inception, if they were not in fact the very midwives at its birth. On the one hand, early films were shown in circuses, while on the other, they documented and instrumentalized life behind the front.

Explosion ma baby in the words of Pauline Curnier Jardin consists of:
“Screams, colours, chants and explosions. Money-garlands. Imagine no women except me. Wait, yes, behind us women are following with devotion, all dressed up in well pressed clothes and their stocking feet. Now, come back here. Imagine how badly I fell in love with this. I desperately want to be part of it. To be there. I wanted to belong. But I know that I can’t. And so I try to capture it on film. I go there and film it every year, over and over, again and again. One day I will tell the story of a poor and sterile man who wants to replace San Sebastian. But more summers will have to pass before our hero will appear.”

In Binding by Assaf Gruber, a father and his son find themselves alone, naked and lost in the Golf Course of Caesarea. They seek a way to ease the tension that seems to accompany their relation with the landscape. The dichotomy between the awkward aesthetics of the contrived nature of the Golf Course and the latitude of the naked bodies creates a phantasmagoric tale about the relationship between religious myths, modern culture and human desire to mark territories.

The Conspicuous Parts by Assaf Gruber is the story of Daphne and Catherine, who work at the Natural history Museum of Berlin. The former is a taxidermist. The latter is a British writer who came to Berlin to research in the museum’s archive for her new novel. Her interest is directed at what strikes her as a shady museum expedition to Cuban coral reefs that was undertaken by East Germany in the late 1960s. During their chance encounter, the two women start a rather unusual communication. The film challenges the ways in which institutions choose to represent and communicate scientific and historical facts or presumptions. The life stories of the protagonists elucidate how the presentation of those facts is shaped by the desires of individuals: from possible colonial ambitions of explorers in the Caribbean to an unlikely obsession of a museum director at the time of the First World War and the resulting fantasy of a young taxidermist of today. The fracturing of spaces using glass walls complicates the progression of the plot within the protagonists' realities and the films aesthetics.

Assaf Gruber, "Binding", 2011, video still

Pauline Curnier Jardin (b. 1980, France) is an Amsterdam-Berlin based artist working across installation, performance, film and drawing. Selected solo and group exhibitions, projects and screenings include: Venice Biennale, IT; Tate Modern, London, UK; International Film Festival, Rotterdam, NL; Futura, Prague, CZ; Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam, NL (2017). Performa 15, New York, US; The Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris, FR;(2016) MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, US (2014). Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, DE; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FR (2013). Centre George Pompidou, Paris, FR (2012). Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, FR; ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, DE (2011). Curnier Jardin completed a residency at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam in 2015-2016. She was laureate of the Prix Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard and previous works have been awarded Age D’Or, Outra Mirada, and Otto d’Ame amongst others. In 2017, she was commissioned by Frieze Film and Channel 4 to produce the short film Teetotum. Currently, she is tutor at the Dutch Art Institute and guest Professor at the Kunsthochschule Kassel. Her new film is one of the selected projects for the coming edition of FIDLAB Marseille (2018).

Assaf Gruber ( b. 1980, Jerusalem) is a sculptor and filmmaker who lives and works in Berlin. Both his time-based works and installations investigate the manner in which the political ideologies of subjects are intertwined with individual, personal stories, and the way in which they form social relations within private and public spheres. His multi-disciplinary work stems from a sculptural practice that ventured into the narrative expressiveness of objects. Gruber is a graduate of the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and of the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK) in Ghent. His work has received funding from the Ostrovsky Family Fund, New York, the Berlin Senate, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, and the Rothschild Foundation, among others. Upon graduation in Paris he won the first prize of Les amis des beaux-arts de Paris. His solo exhibitions include the Museum of Natural History, Berlin (2018) and the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2018). His films have been featured in festivals including the Berlinale Film Festival (2016) and the International Short film Festival of Oberhausen (2016). In 2017, Gruber won the Feature Expanded development award at Lo schermo dell’arte Film Festival, Florence. This year (2018), he is the fellow of Follow Fluxus Fellowship at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden. His new film project, Inside Guillaume, is one of the selected projects for the coming edition of FIDLAB Marseille (2018).

The films and the Q&A that will follow with the two directors are in English.

Sunday Narratives is a periodical screening program in Athens that since 2017 aims to present selected narratives about the social conditions that shape global reality, through the work of independent creators.

Film credits:
Blutbad Parade (2015)
Directed by: Pauline Curnier Jardin
Text by Tobias Haberkorn and Pauline Curnier Jardin
Starring: Anne Chaniolleau, Nicolas Chardon, Simon Fravega d’Amore, Chris Imler, Viola Thiele, Christian Kell
Image: Alexis Kavyrchine et Victor Zébo
Costumes and Make-up: Rachel Garcia
Editing: Julien Gourbeix
Sound editing and mix: Vincent Denieul
Music: Vincent Denieul, Chris Imler, Déficits Des Années Antérieures /Production : Kulturbüro Stadt Karlsruhe, CNAP
Duration: 35’
Language: German with English subtitles

Explosion ma baby (2016)
Directed by: Pauline Curnier Jardin
Image: Pauline Curnier Jardin and Julien Hogert
Music and sound design: Vincent Denieul
Editing: Margaux Parillaud
Drums: Benjamin Coli
Co-production: Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers and the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam
Distribution: EYE Film Institut Netherlands
Duration: 8’27”
Language: no dialogue

Binding (2011)
Written and directed by: Assaf Gruber
Production: Green Productions
Actors: Eyal Yonati, Izhar Yonati
Music: Eyal Yonati
Director of photography: Elad Debi
Camera 2: David Stragmeister
First D.O.P assistant: Amnon Haas
Film editing: Sima Khatami
Set Design: Heela Harel
Duration: 6’
Language: no dialogue

The Conspicuous Parts (2018)
Written and directed by: Assaf Gruber
Main actresses: Caroline Clifford and Tina Pfurr
Production: Barbara Simon, Talking Projects
Camera: Jutta Pohlmann
Assistant director: Judith Lentze
Editing: Janina Herhoffer
Sound recording: Frank Bubenzer
Sound Design: Jochen Jezussek and Igor Klaczynski
Duration: 35’
Language: German and English with English subtitles

Sunday Narratives:
“Circuses and Taxidermists”

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Riviera Cinema
Valtetsiou 46, Athens
Starts at 21:00
Entrance 5 euros
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