Cityscapes: The Ruins of the Present

Cityscapes: The Ruins of the Present

Screening on Wednesday 13 September 2017 at 6.30 pm,
in Studio 6 Temple Bar Gallery + Studios,5-9 Temple Bar, Dublin

Summery  by Mary Nolan

This was a selection of films that look at urban landscapes as sites of constant transformation, shifting grounds of contemporary life that is increasingly concentrated in cities across the globe. MExIndex curator-in-resident Rana Öztürk presents a selection of films with her unique knowledge and experience of contemporary art and urban contexts in Dublin and Istanbul, having lived in both cities. The selection explores the change and flux of cities as a result of their constant destruction and reconstruction due to changing infrastructural requirements, commercial imperatives and government policies. It aims to highlight the resulting challenges and possible gains to urban environment and how that affects inhabitants and their surroundings as well as the individual and the collective memory of urban landscapes.

MExIndex resident curator Rana Öztürk presented a selection of films that look at urban landscapes as sites of constant transformation, shifting grounds of contemporary life that is increasingly concentrated in cities across the globe. Öztürk’s knowledge and experience of contemporary art and urban contexts in Dublin and Istanbul (she has lived in both cities) informed her choice of films, which ranged in style from the satirical to the lyrical, and demonstrated a plethora of experimental film techniques and approaches.
The post-showing discussion allowed the participants, Öztürk, MEx Director Fifi Smith, and filmmakers Anne Maree Barry and Maximillian le Cain, further to explore the multifaceted nature of the works shown, and to elucidate the themes and sub-themes they brought into focus. Barry’s film reflected on the notion of heritage in the context of buildings which have fallen into disrepair. Its reference to a graveyard evoked a powerful image of ruins being the headstones of buildings that have passed out of contemporary life, posing the question of how we memorialize the elements of our past, both human and built. Le Cain’s work examined that ‘intermediary space’ between removing and rebuilding and posited the notion of ‘purification’ as part of that process.
The discussion also highlighted the contrast between the public exterior of a building and the private interior, which is revealed, often brutally, through its destruction, planned or otherwise. An interesting parallel with the human body was made, one which, as was pointed out, was implicit in the split-screen content of Özgür’s Resurrection.
A further element of contrast which emerged was related to process. The filmmakers were asked how long it took them, and how, if at all, it had changed them, to make their works, and the difference was quite remarkable. For Barry, it was a research-led process, and so she spent about 6 months on the work. For le Cain, on the other hand, it was very much an instinctive response to an event he witnessed, and the time involved was less than a month. A difference in approach was also suggested, in which Barry’s film took the perspective of the observer, while le Cain’s took that of the building.
Eight films in an hour and a quarter: the risk of creating a sense of disparity and confusion, or worse still, to overwhelm with repetition, seems great. But the skill of the curator is not simply to eliminate, by careful choice, this risk, but also to suggest, through considered juxtaposition, aspects and angles that both filmmakers and viewers might not have spotted. Indeed, le Cain commented that seeing his work some years later was really interesting – surely a response to gladden the heart of any curator, and a fitting endorsement of the value of a post-viewing discussion.

Mary Nolan is an artist writer,curator, and linguist based in Dublin.

The screening presents the following artists and :

Ferhat Özgür, Resurrection, 2012, 5′ 53”
Anne Maree Barry, No Mean City, 2015, 14′ 30”
P?nar Ö?renci, Erika and the Night, 13′ 41”
Maximillian Le Cain, Arkady Feed, 2013, 13′
Dennis McNulty, INTERZONE, 2012, 13′
Avril Corroon, Fresh Paint on the Walls, 2016, 9′
Özden Demir, Auto-Portrait, 2016, 3′, 45”
Michelle Deignan, A Glimpse of Common Territory, 2015, 8′


Published on: 17th December 2018
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