Giving Visibility

Screenings and installations at Miami Beach Cinematheque for Art Basel Miami Beach, December 2006

Michel Auder, Candice Breitz, Gabriel Lester, Jonas Mekas, Francesco Vezzoli

Curated by Liutauras Psibilskis

Giving Visibility showcased five filmmakers and video artists. Some of them are crucial figures for the development of independent cinema or video art whose work is now being rediscovered. Some are innovators of contemporary video art who reinvent narrative film formats and make waves also beyond their own scene. All of them are brilliant observers, generators of images who challenge our experience of sensing and thinking.

There might seem to be few direct connections between these artists, but if we take a closer look we see how much their works have in common. Even when they show well-known cultural settings they question our prejudices by giving visibility to aspects of the world we didn’t know existed. All the works speak about relationships, friendship, the joys of existence and intimacy. Giving Visibility not only revealed aspects of peoples lives and environments we might have been unaware of. It also featured constructed worlds, sometimes using material already in circulation and shaping it into new narratives. The project included works that visualise the experience of being in the public eye, which challenges our perspectives on people, places and time. These films convey an extraordinary openness to the condition of watching and being watched, adding dimensions of vulnerability to the world under observation.

In the films by Jonas Mekas and Michel Auder we see footage of real life: family, festivities and gatherings of friends, some of whom are legendary 20th century figures like John Lennon, Andy Warhol, the Kennedys or Niki de Saint-Phalle. There is no voyeurism in Mekas’s films, since all his footage is taken from the perspective of a close friend and a trusted associate. Such personal relationships create bonds that dismantle the distance or intrusion of the camera. A feeling of intimacy permeates his work, and also that of Auder, making their observations seem much more personal then the images of the same protagonists that we encounter in the public domain. Their films, reminiscent of ‘home movies’, they give us, as viewers, unparalleled access to the environments of iconic figures. Even if at the first glance Michel Auder seems to reveal something very private, there is always an air of trust and mutual involvement in his work, which allows us as viewers to participate in a delicate exchange of visuals.

Candice Breitz and Gabriel Lester ‘steal’ images from mainstream film productions and other media sources and integrate them into worlds of their own creation. Breitz uses moving images of iconic faces taken from mainstream Hollywood movies that are so much part of public consciousness that they have almost become unconscious signifiers. Without changing a single word of their original utterances, she completely transforms the content and meaning of the words. With such amazingly simple means she creates a shift that is charged both intellectually and emotionally and gives visibility to worlds that were not there before. Lester narrates from almost anonymously produced, generic images found on the web. He makes us believe that we have seen them many times before and know them very well. Both artists invent narratives that reshape our vision of the world and shift the boundaries of reality as we see it.

Francesco Vezzoli, on the other hand, invites us into a created world in which life is scripted and put together in front of the camera. He conjures up luscious and melancholic experiences that involve us in reflections on abstract notions such as time, beauty, glory, presence or change. He constructs and visualises things we long to see. He opens doors into new worlds of dreams, dramas and iconic endings.

The event was a Miami Beach Cinematheque presentation in partnership with Future Audience, The Company, Mokaï, Fiji Water, MACK Industries, Bud Select, A La Folie, SUBLIME Miami, and the Cultural Arts Councils of the City of Miami Beach and Miami Dade County.