The Distance Between Slits and Screen

This two-part, online only, film program runs parallel to the exhibition Bronze Icebergs by Cauleen Smith currently on show at Kunstverein. It expands on the artists own interests and filmic oeuvre, touching upon topics and methodologies by kindred-spirited filmmakers and finding itself in latent friction with a selection of archival material from the collection of Eye Filmmuseum.

Part one will run in endless loop until November 30.

For their support to The Distance Between Slits and Screen we wish to thank the artists, Simona Monizza, Leenke Ripmeester, Marente Bloemheuvel and the team of the Eye Filmmuseum collection, who kindly co-organised this with us.

[Click the video to unmute]

J.C. Mol
35mm, 1935, 6’09”

Daphnia—a scientific and cinematic experiment from 1935—is an early example of microcinematography capturing aquatic organisms filmed through a microscope, in different types of light. The fragments included in this film show marvelous movements and shapes alternating throughout; scenes of organisms that appear to consist of large numbers of balls make way for a look into a transparent organism with a beating heart, carrying other organisms within it. Mesmerized, we follow the movements of their day. This film was restored and digitized by Collection Eye Filmmuseum, the Netherlands.

From the Realm of the Crystals
J.C. Mol
35mm, 1927, 13’24”

From the Realm of the Crystal shows the imperceptibly slow crystallization processes of various chemicals. Though the film was produced for educational and scientific use, it also resonated within avant-garde circles. For instance, since Mol’s scientific experiments were very much in line with the aim of the avant-garde to establish film as an autonomous artform, From the Realm of the Crystals was included in a screening in the Paris ‘Studio 28’. This film was restored and digitized by Collection Eye Filmmuseum, the Netherlands.

T Minus Two
Cauleen Smith
16mm transferred to digital video, 2010, 2’38”

“Counting down, counting sideways, counting future, counting past.”

Songs for Earth and Folk
Cauleen Smith & The Eternals
CFA Media Mixer, 2013, 11’

Songs for Earth and Folk is a very direct attempt by Smith to describe our dysfunctional relationship with our planet, our willful ignorance, our psychotic cruelty to living things and ecosystems. The film was produced as part of a residency Smith participated in at the Chicago Film Archives. The found footage in the film is structured like a blues song and paired with a live-improvised, electro-organic soundtrack created by the Chicago-based band The Eternals.

“For me it’s urgent in terms of having a sense of place on the planet. What ground can I claim, where on earth would I, an alien, a being born out of circumstances unprecedented in human history, be welcomed? I feel like taking on Land Art was a step along the way to confronting the stakes of being human in the 21st century. We really need another radical shift in consciousness, […] And now the entire planet has adopted this notion of the human as being a creature that defines itself by what it accumulates. Sylvia Wynter calls us Homo economicus. If humans can endure a radical shift like that, surely we can do it again. We have to if we want to remain on this planet; we just have to.”—Cauleen Smith

De Werking van den Krakatau
H. Bekker
35mm, 1928, 5’44”

De Werking van den Krakatau captures a few scenes from a short report of an expedition to the Krakatau volcano (Java) to witness its eruption in January 1928. The alluring beauty of the footage contrasts heavily with the context in which it was shot, a period of Dutch colonization of Indonesia. This film was restored and digitized by Collection Eye Filmmuseum, the Netherlands.

No Shooting Stars
Basim Magdy
Super 16mm and GIF animations transferred to Full HD
2016, 14’25”

No Shooting Stars is built around the personal narrative of someone whose identity is vested in the ocean, an entity that is willing to reveal the secrets of an underwater world. The unknown takes center stage in the work: images merge and dream-like scenes drift in dissonance with a narration; images are made up of spaces that are all affected by the ocean’s mystery but bring no enlightenment. The narrator’s tale meanders like a poem, and intensifies existing feelings rather than offering an explanation that is anticipated, running the story through many loops of imagination. The film was co-commissioned by Jeu de Paume, Paris, Fondation, Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques, and CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux.

The Name You Trust In Good Clean Family Fun
Cauleen Smith
2010, 4’

The film begins with an affirmation: “The promise of erasure. I am never truly what I appear to be. I cling to whatever surrounds me in the hopes of retaining something within the void of being…”

Eine Grubenfahrt im Ruhrgebiet
35mm, 1928, 4’38”

Scenes from a documentary film from 1928 capture a descent down the mines in the Ruhr region of Germany and the extraction of coal. This film was restored and digitized by Collection Eye Filmmuseum, the Netherlands.

Cauleen Smith
16mm, 2008, 6’39”

In ENTITLED, speculative still lifes project desires on painters in an attempt to collapse time by sharing mundane details about the contemporary conditions of life in some American cities.

Once in the XX Century
Deimantas Narkevičius
16mm, 2004, 8’

Once in the XX Century is based on video documentation of the removal of a monumental public sculpture of Lenin in Lithuania in 1991. The artist acquired footage from the Lithuanian National TV archive and from a freelance video reporter in order to have a two-camera perspective on the event. These images of the figure hanging above the crowd with his hand raised have been broadcast hundreds of times by CNN and other news channels over the last decades as a symbol of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the failure of Communism. Here, editing shifts into manipulation: it looks as if the crowd is preparing for and then celebrating the erection of the sculpture. The demise of Eastern European socialist regimes at the end of the twentieth century led to the removal of many such monuments, taken down by either the state or the people themselves in hopes of a better future. For many, this hope has not been fulfilled. Narkevičius’s historical reversal ironically points to the repetition of scenes in history, with regard to the longing for or denial of certain political and economic systems.

White Suit
Cauleen Smith
16mm with hand-painted leader, 1997, 4’18”

A formal meditation on the physical estrangement, invisibility, and the roaring silences of overdetermined social performance and expectations. Viola melody performed by Keith Barry.