It was in the cold of early February when we received word about the slate of galleries participating in Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland. Now that we’re closer to that ever-important fair, there’s another Art Basel programming announcement. This time, it’s the film program.
The lineup includes work from Pierre Bismuth, the artist and improbable Oscar-winner—he picked up an Academy Award when Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won Best Original Screenplay, as he came up with the film’s concept alongside director Michel Gondry. At Art Basel, there’s a screening of Where is Rocky II?, Bismuth’s documentary about the Sisyphean task of trying to find a hidden Ed Ruscha fake rock sculpture in the middle of the rock-filled Mojave Desert. A trailer for the film was shown at Team Gallery last year.
Another highlight is a film by Jonas Mekas about his first visit back to his homeland of Lithuania since he fled there from the Nazis at age 22. Mekas, who is 93 years old, will be in Basel for the screening, which means he’s leaving the East Village for a few days—Mekas shows with James Fuentes on Delancey Street, cofounded Anthology Film Archives on Second Avenue, goes often to Lucien, and used to be a fixture at the late, great Bowery hellhole Mars Bar.
The full film sector docket is below.
Monday, June 13
10pm | Introduction by Pierre Bismuth of ‘Where is Rocky II?’
10.30pm | Screening | Pierre Bismuth: ‘Where is Rocky II?’ (2016)
Running time 93′; team (gallery, inc.), Jan Mot, Christine König
This year’s film program opens with an exclusive preview of Where is Rocky II?, the first feature-length fiction film by French artist Pierre Bismuth. Starting point for the story is the search for a mysterious object: an artificial rock that artist Ed Ruscha hid in the vast California desert in the 1970s. Where is Rocky II? is at once a documentary, a crime thriller and a work of art – and ultimately something else entirely. Pierre Bismuth leads the audience on a wild goose chase through reality and fiction, until it is impossible to tell them apart.
Tuesday, June 14
8pm | Short Film program | ‘Arbeit ist schön, macht aber viel Kunst’
Running time 68′; curated by Maxa Zoller
Karl Valentin’s famous phrase ‘Kunst ist schön, macht aber viel Arbeit’ (‘Art is beautiful, but it takes a lot of work’) is the inspiration for this program of short films by contemporary artists on the relationship between work and value. Above all, these films focus on the value of manual and virtual work, such as work with computers, celebrity culture or the production of money on the stock market.
Simon Fujiwara, Hello, 2015, 10′, Andrea Rosen Gallery, Dvir Gallery, joségarcía ,mx
Cally Spooner, Off Camera Dialogue, 2014, 6′, gb agency
Beatrice Gibson, Crippled Symmetries, 2015, 26′, Laura Bartlett Gallery
Yuri Ancarani, San Siro, 2014, 26′, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi
Tim Davis, Just in Time, 2015, 3’50”, Van Doren Waxter
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Beatrice Gibson, Simon Fujiwara and Maxa Zoller.
10pm | Short Film program | ‘Sound Spaces of Trauma’
Running time 66′; curated by Maxa Zoller
North Korea and Sarajevo: in this program, sites of historical trauma are revisited, and sublimated by means of classical music compositions. The moving, urgent films by these three artists mark a new approach in coming to terms with the past.
Park Chan-kyong, Flying, 2005, 13′, Kukje Gallery / Tina Kim Gallery
Anri Sala, 1395 Days without Red, 2011, 43’46”, kurimanzutto, Hauser & Wirth, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Esther Schipper, Johnen Galerie
Manon de Boer, On a Warm Day in July, 2015, 9’50”, Jan Mot
Wednesday, June 15
8.30pm | Screening | Fiona Tan: ‘History’s Future’ (2016)
Running time 95′, Frith Street Gallery, Mongrel Media
History’s Future is the first feature-length fiction film by Netherlands-based Indonesian artist Fiona Tan. The film’s protagonist, ‘MP’ (Missing Person), is a middle-aged man who has been beaten so badly that he loses his memory and must piece his life together anew. Using poetic images, the camera strolls through European cities, and impressive actors, Fiona Tan tells a moving story and puts her finger on the sore spots of our time: violence, amnesia, shock, loss of identity; being everything and everywhere at once, and yet nothing and nowhere.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Fiona Tan and Maxa Zoller.
Thursday, June 16
8pm | Jonas Mekas: ‘Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania’ (1971/1972)
Running time 82′; James Fuentes
Jonas Mekas is one of the pioneers of post-war experimental filmmaking, co-founder of New York’s Anthology Film Archives and, at 93 years of age, still a tireless filmmaker in his own right. This film reflects his tumultuous biography. He fled from Lithuania at age 22, was captured by the Nazis, and after the war attended the University of Mainz. In the late 1940s he emigrated to New York. In Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania he documents his first trip back to his native land.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Jonas Mekas and Maxa Zoller.
10.30pm | Short Film program | ‘Migrating Birds’
Running time 38′; curated by Maxa Zoller
This program tackles one of today’s most pressing issues: mass migration. However, instead of focusing on tragedy, these films use indirect, metaphoric language to raise the question of what it means to risk ‘crossing the water’.
Martha Rosler, Because This Is Britain…, 2012, 3′, Galerie Nagel Draxler
Sven Johne, A Sense of Warmth, 2015, 15’35, Galerie Nagel Draxler
Edith Dekyndt, Material M, 2007, 1’35”, Galerie Greta Meert
Superflex, KWASSA KWASSA’, 2015, 18’15”, Nils Staerk
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, The lncidental lnsurgents, Part 2: Unforgiving Years, 2014, 6’30”, Carroll / Fletcher
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen and Maxa Zoller.
Friday, June 17
8.30pm | Special screening | Omer Fast: ‘Continuity’ (2016)
Running time 85′; selected by Sergio Fant, programmer Festival del Film Locarno, gb agency, Arratia Beer, Dvir Gallery, James Cohan Gallery, Filmgalerie 451
Following last year’s successful collaboration with Art Basel, this year the Festival del Film Locarno presents the Swiss premiere of Continuity, the most recent feature length film by Omer Fast. A short version of the film was premiered at documenta13 and has won several awards. The long version is a remake, repetition and continuation. Continuity begins as a straight-forward story of an emotional homecoming and turns uncanny as the two protagonists – a middle aged couple living in a small town in Germany – repeatedly invite different young men into their home to perform a mysterious ritual.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Omer Fast and Sergio Fant, programmer Festival del Film Locarno.
Saturday, June 18
8pm | Special Screening | Timothy Marrinan, Richard Dewey: ‘Burden’ (2016)
Running time 90′; selected by Marian Masone
From his controversial performances of the early 1970s to his most recent sculptures and installations, Chris Burden’s work has consistently raised questions about the limits and nature of art. Using unprecedented access to Burden’s archive as well as candid footage filmed with the artist in the final years of his life, this documentary film is a revealing portrait of the man behind some of the most thought provoking and influential artworks of the past 50 years.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Timothy Marrinan, Richard Dewey and Marian Masone.