Exhibition Histories: ‘Making Art Global: “Magiciens de la Terre” 1989’, London Book Launch, Films and Debate

View programme leaflet here >

Join us at Tate Modern, 11–13 April 2014, for the London launch of Making Art Global (Part 2): ‘Magiciens de la Terre' 1989, in the context of films selected from those screened at the Centre Pompidou’s cinema at the time, with accompanying debate.

In 1989 the ambitious exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ opened in Paris, presenting the work of over one hundred artists, half of whom were described as non-Western. In a bid to open up the art world centred in West Europe and North America, ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ argued for the universality of the creative impulse and endeavoured to offer direct and equal aesthetic experience of contemporary works of art made globally. Marking the 25th anniversary of what proved to be a hugely controversial show, a weekend of screenings and talks at Tate Modern revisits and expands on the exhibition’s thought-provoking film programme.

The selection of screenings offers opportunity for critical reflection on the cinematic history of colonialism, on developments within ethnographic film and on emerging discourses of globalisation. The diverse programme includes works by David Byrne, Maya Deren, Len Lye, Chris Marker, Claes Oldenburg, Alain Resnais, Jean Rouch and Dziga Vertov, together with significant contributions by filmmakers who are less well-known in the UK context, such as Al Clah, Geraldo Sarno and Paulin Soumanou Vieyra. The films will be contextualised through discussion involving some of those involved with the original exhibition and film programme, while engaging independent respondents.

‘Magiciens de la Terre’ Reconsidered
11–13 April 2014

Magiciens Reconsidered 1: From Exhibition to Screen
Friday 11 April, 19.00–22.00

Talks and panel discussion plus Les statues meurent aussi / Statues Also Die, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, France 1952–53, 30min

This opening session will introduce the 1989 exhibition and film programme with illustrated talks and discussions. Lucy Steeds will expand on her core contribution to the recent book Making Art Global (Part 2): Magiciens de la Terre 1989 and Jean-Michel Bouhours, Curator of Modern Art at the Pompidou and formerly of the Cinema department will discuss the original film programme and its influence on the Centre Georges Pompidou. A screening of Chris Marker and Alain Resnais‘s influential film, Les statues meurent aussi / Statues Also Die (1952–53) will be followed by a panel discussion with Mark Francis, co-curator of ’Magiciens de la Terre’, Jean-Michel Bouhours and Lucy Steeds, chaired by Elvira Dyangani Ose, Curator of Modern Art, Tate Modern.

Video recording here.

Magiciens Reconsidered 2: Hybridity in the 1920s
Saturday 12 April, 15.00–17.00

Tusalava, Len Lye, UK 1929, 16mm, black and white, 9min
The Sixth Part of the World, Dziga Vertov, USSR 1926, 35mm, black and white, 73min

This second session presents two of the earliest films included in the programme for ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, offering independently remarkable reflections on cultural diversity and cohesion: Len Lye’s Tusalava, for which he described himself as having ‘imagined I was an Australian witchetty grub who was making this animated ritual dance film’, to Dziga Vertov's The Sixth Part of the World, an epic exploration of the vastness and diversity of the Soviet Union.

Magiciens Reconsidered 3: Cults of Possession
Saturday 12 April, 17.30–19.30

Moonblood: A Yanomamo Creation Myth As Told By Dedeheiwa, Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon, USA/Brazil 1976, 16mm transferred to video, 14min
Ião / Iawo: Initiation in a Gege-Nago Temple, Geraldo Sarno, Brazil 1976, 16mm, 70min

The third session will reconvene two films originally presented at the Centre Pompidou under the title we revisit here, ‘Cults of Possession’. Both films reflect on ritual practices and forms of spirituality in South America, while allowing us to consider the rituals of cinema and the desire to possess as well as to become possessed.

Magiciens Reconsidered 4: The US Films Itself
Saturday 12 April, 20.00–22.00

Injun: Two Scenarios from an Incomplete Pageant of America, Claes Oldenburg 1962 (edited 1971), 16mm transferred to video, black and white, 10min
True Stories, David Byrne, USA 1987, 35mm, 89min

In this fourth session, celebrated immigrants to the US, artist Claes Oldenburg and musician David Byrne, offer playful if somewhat biting reflections on the culture of the nation that became their home in childhood. Injun: Two Scenarios from an Incomplete Pageant of America records a performance led by Claes Oldenburg, one of the artists included in ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, whilst True Stories features David Byrne as the protagonist/narrator, as well as director, of this film set in the mythical US town of Virgil, Texas.

Magiciens Reconsidered 5: Artists at Work, Filming Magicians
Sunday 13 April, 14.00–16.00

Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, Maya Deren, USA, 1985, 16mm, black and white, 54min
Intrepid Shadows, Al Clah, USA, 1966–69, 16mm, black and white, 15min
Accompanied by an illustrated talk on the two works by curator Anselm Franke, Head of Visual Arts and Film Department, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

This screening and discussion features two influential films which propose complex models for the relationship of filmmaker to their subject. Conceived of as a ‘film-poem’ Divine Horsemen is a documentary film about dance and possession in Haitian Vodou from material Deren recorded during extensive research trips between 1947 and 1954. Intrepid Shadows is a remarkable film from the series Navajos Film Themselves, conceived by Sol Worth and John Adair ‘to determine whether it is possible to teach people with a technically simple culture to make motion pictures depicting their culture and themselves as they see fit’.

Audio recording here.

Magiciens Reconsidered 6: Ethno-Fictions
Sunday 13 April, 17.00–19.00

Afrique sur Seine, Mamadou Sarr and Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, France 1955, 35mm film transferred to video, 22min,
 French with English subtitles
Cocorico! Monsieur Poulet, Dalarou (Damouré Zika, Lam Dia, Jean Rouch), France/Niger 1974, 90min,
 French with English subtitles

The sixth and final session will present two ‘ethno-fictions’ which reflect on the critical legacy of ethnographic cinema and the relationship between France and Africa. Paulin Soumanou Vieyra's pioneering film Afrique sur Seine shows Paris in the 1950s from the perspective of a group of African immigrants, whereas Cocorico! Monsieur Poulet, made by the international collaborative team of Jean Rouch, Damouré Zika and Lam Dia, depicts an absurd journey across Niger.

‘Magiciens de la Terre’ Reconsidered
11–13 April 2014

Tate Modern
Starr Auditorium
Bankside
London SE1 9TG

£5 per screening, concessions available. For more information visit the Tate website. Tickets for each session can be purchased using the above links.

This weekend of events is a partnership between Afterall Books and Tate Film, and presented in conjunction with the MRes Art: Exhibition Studies course at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.