Magazine article Art Monthly

Differentiated Cinema

Magazine article Art Monthly

Differentiated Cinema

Article excerpt

'Does the museum fail?' was the question at the heart of the Kinomuseum project. The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen posed the question through a series of specially curated programmes reflecting on the ability of institutions to represent culture. To discuss failure is to emphasise what museums tend to disguise: the gaps and conditions that govern their collections. Kinomuseum was an attempt to examine the institutional construction of authority and to construct models of exhibition for film and video that embraced criticality. Conceived and curated for the festival by Ian White, the project was positioned at the intersection between 'the museum's seemingly unlimited ability to reproduce itself and the threat that reproduction poses to the art museum's primary function as the keeper of objects'.

To enter into the museum, works have to follow the principle of the unique object, which in the case of reproducible media means the editioned work. The principle of controlled exhibition is in opposition to industrial cinema that operates on mass simultaneous exhibition through distribution. Artists' film and video pose distinct problems to both of these models and, although they do enter both institutions, it is largely through subscription to their conditions. By creating a 'differentiated cinema' Kinomuseum sought to find ways to engage with artists' critical relationship to institutional models of exhibition as well as to further collapse the division between how cinemas and museums operate. The project followed the lines set out in a quotation from Andre Malraux in the catalogue: 'The museum was an affirmation, the museum without walls is an interrogation.'

The dialectic between affirmation and interrogation was constant in the festival's ten cinema programmes that ran in two parallel sections. Half were curated by Ian White and sought to 'replace the institution itself with its exploration' and half were guest-selected by three artists (AA Bronson, Mary Kelly and Mark Leckey) and two curators (Emily Pethick, Achim Borchardt-Hume) under the brief to present a room inside the project's 'imaginary museum'. Museums themselves already make steps towards other configurations of their role, especially through their use of film or other media to extend the reach of their collections. An early example was The American Wing, 1935, a film made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to show its historical displays around the country, which juxtaposes exterior shots of historical buildings with their replica interiors from the museum, creating a collection that would be physically impossible for the museum to accommodate.

The Kinomuseum programmes constantly sought to intervene and penetrate into other areas. Mark Leckey's brilliant performance/lecture titled CINEMA-IN-THE-ROUND drew links--between Philip Guston and Honda's pristine Fischli and Weiss rip-off, Felix the Cat and Hollis Frampton's structuralist film Lemon--in order to outline his fascination with visual culture's ability to become more than its material. Similarly corporeal was Seth Price's cannibalisation of his own commercially sold video works in Digital Video Effects: 'Editions', 2006, where he challenged ownership of artistic objects through the appropriation of his own work.

The need for a 'differentiated cinema' that could fracture the conditions of exhibition was contested by Alexander Horwath in a discussion around the project. He contemptuously shrugged off the proposal by citing Vienna's Filmmuseum, which he runs, as already fulfilling the proposition. …

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