Conversation between Jelle Bouwhuis and Mark Lewis
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28 November 2007
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In conjunction with the exhibition 'Rosa Barba ? They Shine', the British/Canadian artist Mark Lewis will give a presentation of his work in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Lewis makes film installations and is editor of Afterall. During this evening Lewis will be in conversation with curator Jelle Bouwhuis. Lewis will show some of his film works and also discuss his essay Is Modernity our Antiquity? which was one of the guidelines for Documenta 12.
In his work Lewis opens himself to the influences of structuralist film from the 1960s. Filmmakers such as Hollis Frampton experimented with the form of film, concentrating more on the cinematography than on the narrative structure. In his film installations Lewis also investigates the medium. He films landscapes and modernist architecture with controlled camera movements and rigorous attention to the aesthetic of the image. But more than such beautiful settings, it is the camera movements that claim the attention. Like the structuralists, with sophisticated framing, pans, tilts and zoom movements, he elevates technique to become the subject. This precision is emphasised because Lewis makes use of professional actors, a film crew and the possibilities in editing. The result not only places demands on the visual experience of the viewers, but also intrigues them by the images, the serenity and the expectations that it evokes.
In their approach to modernism, Lewis? films such as Spadina (2006) and Rear Projection ? Molly (2007), allow comparison with the work of Rosa Barba. Just as in Barba?s work, modernist architectural objects play a major role, while the landscape as setting is no less important. Both place emphasis on the cinematic process and film in 35mm. However, whereas Barba prefers flickering projections in her installations resulting from the use of film projectors, Lewis transfers his work integrally into DVD and HD format, giving it a contemporary digital aura.
Originally a photographer, Mark Lewis (b. 1958) has been making films since the 1990s. Together with Charles Esche he founded Afterall in 1998, a research and publication organisation focusing on contemporary art. Recently he had a solo exhibition at BFI Southbank in London and at the moment his work can be seen at the collection presentation at MuHKA in Antwerp. An excerpt of Lewis? film Rush Hour, Morning and Evening, Cheapside was used as the trailer for Documenta 12.