Peter Doig: Museum Ludwig

Article excerpt

The metaphor of "cultural translation" has been a favorite theme of cultural criticism and art discourse for some time. And in fact the processes of appropriation and translation, and their attendant displacements of cultural and contextual meaning, do belong to the defining experiences of contemporary life. In Peter Doig's exhibition "StudioFilmClub," which traveled to the Kunsthalle Zurich after being seen in Cologne, the metaphor of cultural translation played several key roles: The Scottish-born painter who now resides in Trinidad presented seventy-six hand-painted film posters displayed in a transitional space that communicates with the movie theater housed in the same building as the museum. Doig's sketchily painted posters originally served a concrete communicative purpose: to publicize the weekly film presentations at StudioFilmClub, which Doig has been running, along with artist Che Lovelace, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, since 2003. A kind of hybrid byproduct created not solely under the aegis of art, the posters open exciting possibilities for cross-pollination--not just between Doig's painting and the collective image reservoir of film history but between cinemas of diverse places, eras, and genres, such as Black British Cinema, Caribbean productions, and Western independent films; and, finally, between the function that the film posters filled in the communicative and social context of StudioFilmClub and their transfer to the museum, where they provide both a documentation of the activities of the group and a kind of subjective archive of cinematic history.


One of the first posters that Doig painted for his film series advertised Marcel Camus's Black Orpheus (1959). Here we see the outline of a solitary figure in a canoe, a motif familiar from Doig's paintings: An Orpheus on reflective water, evoking Cocteau's motif of the mirror as the portal to the underworld, to the unconscious. …


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