Three films cover three cities. We move from Paris to London to ‘somewhere’ in Italy. Direct action, stop-motion, sound collage and unusual perspective are some of the strategies that give these films a strongly formal structure and allow us to examine urban living and urban architecture through the unique gaze and action of the respective artists.
Gordon Matta-Clarke Conical Intersect (USA, 1976, 19 mins, 16mm)
Using a practice that fused conceptual art’s critique of cultural institutionalization, a direct involvement with the environment, and performance of sheer physicality, Matta-Clark sliced into abandoned buildings to create dizzying, Piranesian spaces sculpted from voids and fissures. By destructuring existing sites, he sought to reveal the tyranny of urban enclosure. This documentation of Matta-Clark’s work at the Paris Biennale of 1975, manifested his critique of urban gentrification in the form of a radical incision through two adjacent 17th-century buildings designated for demolition.
Emily Richardson Block (UK, 2005, 12mins, 16mm)
Day through night – Block is a portrait of a 1960’s London tower block, its interior and exterior spaces explored and revealed, patterns of activity building a rhythm and viewing experience not dissimilar from the daily observations of the security guard sat watching the CCTV screens. Richardson moves away from literal translations of time, sublimely masterminding a compelling visual narrative largely through a series of enigmatically composed still frame shots in her film.
Jem Cohen Amber City (USA, 1999, 49mins, video)
Amber City is a portrait of a city in Italy. But what city, and why is it unnamed? This project is the latest in a series of city portraits that sit in the grey area between documentary, narrative and experimental genres. The film uses voice-over narration that collages direct observation, literary texts, historical fact and local folklore. Amber City reflects on the “in-betweeness” of places whose historical and geographical location renders their reality strangely invisible.