The Colour of Capital: Film Program ‘Alexandra Navratil - This Formless Thing’

with Jennifer Burris & Alexandra Navratil

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Time: 8 – 10 p.m.

Colour in the West was always associated with ‘the Other’, with the body of the exotic, the woman, or the child…Colour in film was a spectacle in itself and was used to capture the attention of the viewers. With commodities it worked in a similar way: Colour was an added value and a convincing selling argument. There is an equation between these exotic bodies and desirable goods. --- Alexandra Navratil*

The screening program ‘The Colour of Capital’ brings together historic and contemporary film and video works that navigate the complex nexus of geographical imagination and technological experimentation within the current exhibition at SMBA: ‘Alexandra Navratil—This Formless Thing.’ Pioneering 20th-century silent films by Spanish director Segundo de Chomón explore alchemic transformation as magic trick and colonial fantasy: golden coins are conjured by disembodied hands, kimonoed women become flickering butterflies with flashes of stencil-coloured flame, and spinning objects metamorphose. De l’argent filmé de profil et de tois quarts(2010) (Money Filmed From a Side View and a Three-Quarter View)’, a short film by Isabelle Cornaro, observes paper bills and metal coins with the monumentality of sculpture, questioning the cinematic relationship between acts of representation and the formation of value. In Terence Gower’s video New Utopias (2010), architectural renderings of science fiction communities within film sets present alternatively utopian and fascistic ideals of possible futures. The program concludes with two silent 16 mm films, transferred to video, by artist Charlotte Moth. Colour filters and light stencils enhance everyday objects and places, transforming streaming images of commodities and architectural space into a meditative vision of the moving image.

This film program is curated by Jennifer Burris, who will give a brief introduction to the works. Immediately following the screening, artist Alexandra Navratil and Jennifer Burris will lead a discussion of the relationships between film production, colonialism, capital, and architectural utopia within the works presented.


Segundo de Chomón:

Le Roi de Dollars, 1905, stencilled colour on black-and-white, silent, 2 min

Les Papillons Japonais, 1908, stencilled colour on black-and-white, silent, 4 min

Métamorphoses, 1912, black-and-white, silent, 4 min.

Isabelle Cornaro:

De l’argent filmé de profil et de tois quarts (Money Filmed From a Side View and a Three-Quarter View), 2010, 16 mm digitally transferred, colour, silent, 2’13” min

Terence Gower:

New Utopias, 2010, HD Video, colour, sound, 17 min

Charlotte Moth:

Study for a 16mm film, 2011, 16 mm film digitally transferred, colour, silent, 11'28" min

Study for a Travelogue in motion, 2012, 16 mm film digitally transferred, colour, silent, 6 min

Total Screening Time: 47 minutes

Jennifer Burris (1982, Honolulu, United States) is a curator and writer based in Mexico City, where she is director of Athénée Press. Previously, she was the 2011-2013 Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, where she curated the exhibitions Glitter and Folds and Living Document/Naked Reality: Towards an Archival Cinema. She contributes to various publications including Afterall and BOMB Magazine, and has recently published essays in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Studies in French Cinema, and the Semiotext(e)-published book on artist Brian Weil. She has taught art history and philosophy at the University of Cambridge and the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2010-2011, she was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow in the Whitney Independent Study Program.

Segundo de Chomón (1871-1929, Spain) first became involved in film as a concessionary for Pathé in Barcelona, distributing the company’s work through Spanish-speaking countries while also managing a factory for the colouring of Pathé films. In 1905, he began to shoot ‘actuality films’ in Spain for the company, moving to Paris later that year to work as a trick film specialist. Over the following years, de Chomón created countless fantastical films with hand-drawn and puppet animation, surreal narratives, and saturated colours. In addition to this work, he also contributed effects to two iconic films of the silent era: Pastrone’s ‘Cabiria’ (1914) and Abel Gance’s ‘Napoléon’ (1927). In 2009, art historian John Minguet Batlorri published a book-length study on de Chomón’s life and work titled ‘Segundo de Chomón. The cinema of fascination’ (Filmoteca de Catalunya).

Terence Gower (1965, Canada) works primarily with strategies of representation in Modernist architecture, with a special focus on Mexican Modernism. He has exhibited his work internationally in galleries, museums, and public sites including Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; ICA, Boston; La Colección Jumex, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Museo del Chopo, and Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City; The Power Plant, Toronto; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; Kunsthistorisches Institut, Bonn, the XIII Bienal de la Habana, Cuba; and Centro Recoleta, Buenos Aires. Gower has also organized the exhibitions ‘Prácticas públicas/Vidas privadas’, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil; ‘The Conceptual Trend’, El Museo del Barrio, New York; and ‘The Counterfeit Subject’, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. A monograph on his work, ‘Ciudad Moderna’, was published in 2006 by A&R/Editorial Turner, Mexico City. Gower lives and works in New York and Mexico City

Charlotte Moth (1978, United Kingdom) studied at UCCA, Canterbury, the Slade School of Art in London, and Jan van Eyck in Maastricht. She has held residencies at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Serralves Foundation in Porto, Fieldwork Marfa in Texas, as the Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. Her solo exhibitions include projects at Araújo Porto Institute, Porto; Carlier Gebauer gallery, Berlin; Musée départemental d’art contemporain, Rochechouart; Pied-à-Terre, San Francisco; Lavomatic, Saint-Ouen; and Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg. Monographic publications on her work include ‘A Journey Through Shared Spaces’ (Palais de Tokyo and Circle d’Art, 2013), ‘Charlotte Moth’ (Serralves Publications, 2011), and ‘Bleckede 2009 / Rochechouart 2011’ (Sternberg Press, 2011). Moth lives and works in Paris

Isabelle Cornaro (1974, France) has had recent solo exhibitions at TWASS, New York; Laxart, Los Angeles; M-Museum, Leuven; Kunsthalle Bern; Le Magasin, Paris; FRAC, Aquitaine; Le Collège de Bernardins, Paris; 1m3, Lausanne; Centre d’Art Contemporain de Troyes; and Kunstverein Düsseldorf. Select group exhibitions include ‘Intense Proximité, Paris Triennale’ at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; ‘Un’espressione geografica’ at Fondazione Sandretto, Turin; ‘Vide-Poche’ at Sculpture Centre, New York; ‘Projection’ at Centre Pompidou, Paris; and ‘The Square, the Line, and the Light’ at Tate Modern, London. She has published multiple artist’s books and there are several monographs devoted to her practice, including ‘Inside the White Cube Nr. 13: Isabelle Cornaro’ (White Cube, 2012), ‘Isabelle Cornaro’ (JRP/Ringier, 2011), and ‘Paysage’ (Galerie Saint-Severin, 2009). Cornaro lives and works in Paris

New Utopias is screened courtesy of the artist and Labor, Mexico City.

De l’argent filmé de profil et de tois quarts is screened courtesy of the artist.

Study for a 16 mm film and Study for a Travelogue in motion is screened courtesy of the artist and Marcelle Alix, Paris.

With thanks to Isabelle Cornaro, Terence Gower, Charlotte Moth, Isabelle Alfonsi, and Pamela Echeverría.

*in conversation with Jennifer Burris in 'This Formless Thing'