Chris Marker
Staring Back

September 8 – November 3, 2007
at Peter Blum SoHo & Chelsea

Peter Blum is pleased to announce the exhibition Chris Marker: Staring Back. This exhibition, opening on September 8th, 2007, will be on view at Peter Blum Soho (99 Wooster Street) and Peter Blum Chelsea (526 West 29th Street).

Chris Marker: Staring Back is an exhibition of almost 200 photographs taken over the course of six decades by the enigmatic and influential French filmmaker. This show, organized by Bill Horrigan at the Wexner Center for the Arts, is the first exhibition of Marker’s photographs, and consists of images selected by the artist himself from his own archive, including black-and-white portraits of individuals that Marker has encountered during the course of his world travels.

Divided into four sections, Staring Back is organized around the idea of the faces Marker has seen in his travels, and of the faces that have in turn witnessed his observant gaze –“I stare” and “They stare,” as Marker puts it. Central to the exhibition are his depictions of political demonstrations from Algerian independence protests in 1962, to the Pentagon march in 1967, to May 1968 in Paris, and continuing to 2006 in a stunning series devoted to the sustained demonstrations by French young people against punitive employment legislation. Interspersed throughout the exhibition are photographic traces of his inimitable films, including La Jetée, Letter from Siberia, The Six Face of Pentagon, Cuba Si!, Le fond de l’air est rouge, Sans Soleil, and The Case of the Grinning Cat, among others. Although some of the portraits depict well-known individuals (such as Simone Signoret and Akira Kurosawa), most are of unidentified citizens to whom Marker and his camera were drawn in the course of his global progress through Asia, South America, Scandinavia, Africa, Russia, and elsewhere. The exhibition also includes a selection of photographs of animals.

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France in 1921, Chris Marker is one of the most influential and important filmmakers to emerge in the post-war era. Marker appeared on the Paris cultural landscape as a writer and editor, winning admiration for the Petite Planète travel books he edited for Seuil beginning in 1954. Parallel to his written commentary, Marker also became identified for his uniquely expressive non-fiction films, eschewing traditional narrative technique and working from a deeply political vein, as in the boundary-breaking Sans Soleil. Marker began garnering international recognition in 1962 with the science-fiction short film La Jetée, a hugely influential story of nuclear experimentation and time travel. Marker has also produced acclaimed media installations, including Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men, shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2005 and presented by Peter Blum at the Art Basel Unlimited in 2006, and Silent Movie, which the Wexner commissioned in 1995 through its residency program, and which subsequently traveled to over a dozen other venues internationally.

 

In conjunction with the exhibition Chris Marker: Staring Back, Peter Blum Gallery is pleased
to present three nights of screenings of films by Chris Marker.

Please note that all screenings will take place at Peter Blum Chelsea, 526 West 29 Street:

Thursday, October 4, 2007, 7pm

Sans Soleil
An undisputed masterpiece, Sans Soleil is a nonlinear essay film titled after a song cycle by Modest Mussorgsky. The work is composed of a collage of images gathered from Marker’s travels to Japan, Africa, Iceland, San Francisco, and France, from which a number of the photographs in Staring Back are drawn. A film unlike any other, Marker presents “a digression that weaves together poetic reveries and political insights in a breathtaking meditation on history, memory and ‘the dreams of the human race.’” (1982, 100 mins.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007, 7pm

The Sixth Face of the Pentagon
The Sixth Face of the Pentagon offers firsthand documentation of the march on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967, in which Marker participated. Capturing the drama and charades of the first major demonstration against the Vietnam War, this film has a place in the ongoing chronicles of political resistance that are central to the exhibition and to Marker's oeuvre as a whole. (1968, 28 mins., A First Run / Icarus Films Release)

The Embassy
One of Chris Marker’s few ‘fiction’ films, The Embassy shows political dissidents seeking refuge in a foreign embassy after a military coup d'état in an unidentified country. Realized shortly after the Pinochet coup in Chile, this combination of silent Super-8 footage paired with a man’s voiceover creates a chilling division between sanctuary and external chaos that ultimately undoes itself in the film’s surprise ending. (1973, 20 mins., A First Run / Icarus Films Release)

À Bientôt J'Espère
Produced by SLON (the "Company for the Launching of New Works") and co-directed by Mario Marret, À Bientôt J'Espère tells the story of workers on strike at a textile factory in France in 1967. The film is an artifact not only of the time, a pivotal period leading up to the unrest of 1968, but is also an experiment into the role of cinema within a collective social struggle. (1967, 39 mins., A First Run / Icarus Films Release)

Thursday, October 18, 2007, 7pm

La Jetée
One of the most radical and influential films ever made, La Jetée uses still images and a single splice of film to tell the story of a man sent backward and forward in time in order to save a war-ravaged world. Much more a human story than a science fiction film, it is essentially about the power and fragility of memory and images. (1963, 27 mins.)

Remembrance of Things to Come
Composed almost entirely of still images (like La Jetée), Remembrance of Things to Come is a portrait of the photographer Denise Bellon. An intimate of the surrealists, Bellon was a tireless documentarian of Paris streets, French art and cinema, WWII and the Spanish Civil War. Writing on this film in The New York Times in 2003, Elvis Mitchell called it “the most unforgettable film of any length you will see this year.” (2002, 42 mins., A First Run / Icarus Films Release)