film

documentaries from the stedelijk archives
13 Oct 2005

Melvin Moti, who’s work is currently being shown at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, selected a couple of artdocumentairies from the archive of the Stedelijk Museum.

SMCS on 11, Thursday, October 13:
Art documentaries selected by Melvin Moti
Commences 8:00 p.m.
Free admission

Programme:
*Felix Gonzalez-Torres im Gespräch mit Hans-Ulrich Obrist, ‘Künstlerportrait’, 1994, 35 min. English spoken, not subtitled. Copyright: museum in progress (www.mip.at)
*Theo van Gogh, Een prettig gesprek met Gilbert en George, 1996, 60 min. English spoken, Dutch subtitles. Copyright: René van Praag / Olivier Jansen.

Melvin Moti’s films, which are presently being shown at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, are often preceded by extensive documentary investigations. In his new film Moti makes use of a traditional interview to visualise the life and work of the artist. For SMCS on 11 he selected two art documentaries from the library of the Stedelijk Museum which use ‘the interview’ in a similar manner: a conversation between Hans-Ulrich Obrist and the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Een prettig gesprek, in which Theo van Gogh puts the British artist duo Gilbert & George through the mill.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist, curator of contemporary art at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, has by now done more than 400 interviews with the most prominent and influential persons of our day. Obrist begins the interview with a question about the immigrations in the life of the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (Cuba, 1957 – US, 1996), who had been living in New York since 1980. As a boy of eleven Torres fled with his sister, first to Spain, and thereafter to Puerto Rico. It was eight years before he saw his parents again. Despite the influence this had on him, he did not consciously incorporate this in his oeuvre.
After this personal introduction, the meaning of various works is discussed. Torres is known for his billboards, stacks of sheets of paper, festoons of lights, scattered candy and texts, among other things. An important theme in his work is ‘in-betweenness’, the qualities of process. Because of his homosexuality he was forced to live ‘in-between’. For the most part, his work is simultaneously social commentary and the assimilation of personal experience.

This is followed by an instalment of Een prettig gesprek, the talk show of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, murdered in November, 2004. He interviews the artist duo Gilbert & George. According to themselves, Gilbert Proesch (b. Italy, 1943) and George Passmore (b. England, 1942) are indeed two persons, but one artist, with one vision. Since 1968 they have lived and worked together in London. Their artistic career began with performances, but quickly moved on to video, photography and drawing.
The art of Gilbert & George has often been called politically incorrect.

At the time of Van Gogh’s interview, broadcast at the time on Salto TV, their Naked Shit Pictures were being exhibited at the Stedelijk. These are large photo montages which include, among other things, the bare buttocks of the artists, and, as the title indicates, shit. Shit raises questions, the pair tell Van Gogh; after all, people seldom ask why a lemon is depicted in a still life. Other subjects such as religion, sexuality, money and women – which the pair term ‘the biggest terror’ – come up for discussion. Both Van Gogh and Gilbert & George are provocative, and push the boundaries of Western values. This makes the interview a diverse and fascinating conversation, and moreover gives it a very up-to-the-moment significance.

The exhibition ‘The Black Room’ by Melvin Moti in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam runs through October 23, 2005. www.smba.nl