From Staring Back 2007, digital prints - Chris Marker

Until January 29 2011 – Beirut Art Center
Beirut Art Center is pleased to present a solo exhibition dedicated to the influential French artist and filmmaker Chris Marker. Marker is best known for his cinematic essays that explore the notions of truth, history, and memory, and that push the boundaries of the documentary.
The show at Beirut Art Center will present Staring Back (2007), Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men (2005) and Immemory (1997).
Staring Back is a collection of over 200 black and white prints selected from Marker’s personal archive of faces encountered by the artist throughout the course of his travels. Pivotal political events such as the riots of May 1968 and protests in Japan and Tibet loom large, alongside famous figures such as Akira Kurosawa and countless unforgettable and unknown others, in this hauntingly captivating portrait of humanity in the 20th century.

Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men is a multi-screen installation inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men (1925), a woeful elegy on the devastation wrought by World War I onto Europe. Marker combines his reflections on Eliot’s writing with images of atrocities, ruins, and victims in this morose commentary on the cyclical nature of violence throughout history and its lurking shadow in times of peace.
The CD-ROM Immemory is a poetic “voyage” into Marker’s inner world through text and photography. The work departs from fragments of the artist’s autobiography to touch on the social and political in its investigation of the relationship between time, memory and the world.
On the occasion of the exhibition, London based artists The Otolith Group will also present their work Inner Time of Television (2007), a collaboration with Chris Marker. The publication and thirteen-screen installation features a thirteen-part television program created by Marker on the cultural heritage of ancient Greece entitled L’Héritage de la chouette (The Owl’s Legacy, 1989). The Otolith Group’s oeuvre explores connections between the past, present and future, and is influenced by Marker in its investigation of memory through the image and its sharp criticism of contemporary politics.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks by curators and theorists as well as screenings of films by Chris Marker at Beirut Art Center and Metropolis.
The exhibition and accompanying screenings are supported by the Mission culturelle française au Liban.

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, in 1921, Chris Marker is a groundbreaking French filmmaker, artist, and writer; his film essays exude a unique narrative style and entrenched political engagement. During World War II, Marker was a member of the Maquis resistance against the Vichy regime in France. Following the end of the war, he began writing and producing films, traveling to a number of socialist countries and recording his experiences. In 1954, Marker initiated the editing of what would become a series of acclaimed travel books entitled Petite Planète for ‘Editions du Seuil’.

Chris Marker first achieved international recognition as a filmmaker with La Jetée (1962). The short science fiction film, composed of still black and white images, tells the story of a time travel experiment set in a post-nuclear war future. The technology of time travel lends La Jetée a non-chronological narrative that moves freely back and forth within time, and that is used by Marker to closely observe memory and the yearning which accompanies it. Marker is also renowned for his films Loin du Vietnam (Far from Vietnam, 1967), L’Ambassade (The Embassy, 1973), Le Fond de l’air est rouge (A Grin Without a Cat, 1977), Sans Soleil (1983), A.K. (1985), Level 5 (1997), and Chats perchés (The Case of the Grinning Cat, 2004), among others.

In addition to his writing and films, Chris Marker has produced multimedia installations and projects, heavily reliant on digital technology for which he has a great affinity. These include Silent Movie (1995) for the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio; Immemory (1997) for Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men (2005) for the New Museum, New York.

Marker is an avid participant in the 3D virtual world Second Life, where he has created a cyber museum, along with Austrian architect Max Moswitzer, called Ouvroir that presented an exhibition of his work in 2008 entitled A Farewell to Movies.
Chris Marker holds a particular fascination for animals, which materialize in his work as social, political, and cultural metaphors; the cat is especially prominent as an allusion to the left and to resistance to authority. In fact, Marker often chooses to represent himself as a cat called Guillaume.
Chris Marker lives and works in Paris.

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