Benet Rossell, Behind and in Front of the Camera
Benet Rossell, in Front of and Behind the Camera is not intended to be a retrospective or an anthological program – this would be a difficult undertaking given that more than a dozen sessions would be required to show all of the artist's film and video output. Instead, it is conceived as an extension of the exhibition Parallel Benet Rossell, which is being presented at the MACBA from June 11, 2010 to January 23, 2011. The basic intention is to bring to light much of the unreleased work filmed by Benet Rossell (Àger, Lleida, 1937) mostly between the late sixties and the mid seventies, and also to introduce audiences to the unclassifiable ensemble of his most recent video work, which has rarely been shown.
The works that make up the program can be divided into three main blocks: unreleased 16 mm works in the form of notes-documents, edited in-camera; a second block consisting of recent video works, also unreleased, ranging from animation to audiovisual essays and video art; and finally, what could be considered some key works in Rossell's artistic oeuvre, such as París la Cumparsita and Cerimonials, which are included in the collections of several museums, including the MACBA Collection, and which round off the program and set up a dialogue with the rest of the works.
The five sessions programmed mirror the infinite sides of the polyfacetic artist Benet Rossell: as a solo director or in the company of others, behind or in front of the camera, in stand-alone films or as an extension of some of his art works or actions, on film or video... Some of these different facets have a technically polished «finish», while others are shown in a more «unfinished» state, full of raw edges, but still very powerful. All the pieces compiled here are permeated with the countless interests that drive Rossell's creative quest, and with his artistic sensibilities inscribed in his films and videos. This program also reveals the artist's immense capacity for renewal and for adopting new audiovisual techniques, such as the real-time graphic palette techniques in the pioneering 1000 a Miró (1993), the use of infography techniques in several of his videos (Mandorla Ignis, for example), and his use of 3D in the pieces he is currently making.
In terms of the chronology of the works brought together in the program – and, in fact, in his whole film and video oeuvre – we can see how the camera came to act as a pivot with the passing of the years: the artist, who remained concealed behind the camera in his early film works, gradually becomes the filmed subject and the only true protagonist, either in footage of a testimonial nature, or through a staged mise-en-scène, or as an extension of some art work-action. In all of these cases, time as a specificity of the audiovisual medium becomes the artist's best ally for capturing the traces of movement and incorporating it as an extension of his artistic work.
The program as a whole brings to light unreleased footage that provides an insight into the artistic career of Benet Rossell and his personal (micro)universe. Fortunately, Rossell's work is by no means a closed book, and many other works remain to be discovered or are currently in production stage. We hope that he will continue to surprise us with them, although we will have to wait patiently to enjoy them on another occasion.
Curator: Antoni Pinent
In collaboration with the ICIC-Filmoteca de Catalunya
Wednesdays, October 6 to November 3, at 7pm
1. Live Notes (12 works / 55 minutes / video and 16 mm projection)
This session includes five unreleased films that reveal the influence of cinéma direct – a reflection of the historical context in which they were produced –, and of the work of the filmmaker and anthropologist Jean Rouch, of whom Rossell was a disciple. The pieces are presented as fragments of life, filmed in 16mm, with no subsequent manipulation; that is, the editing takes place in-camera, without cutting of the film, colour grading or sound of any kind. In this hand-held camera footage Rossell moves through spaces, pausing to focus on details along the way, and making brief appearances in the images himself.
Live Notes is the result of an exhaustive research process followed by several viewing sessions with Rossell, in order to select, date and establish the titles of the works with a view to cataloguing them. These are 16 mm recordings on reversal film stock, meaning that there is no negative, only a master positive, and in some cases a new 16 mm copy has been made for screening purposes. As far as possible, we have attempted to respect the original format in which the works were produced.
Antoni Pinente, curator of this programme, and Benet Rossell will attend this session and comment on the works as they are screened, in the spirit of the «screening booths» of the early days of film. Or better still, as if Rossell were providing the map of a journey, or acting as a co-pilot along for the ride with the audience.
· Matança del porc, Benet Rossell, 1970. 2'40", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on 16 mm)
· Patinage Trocadéro, Benet Rossell, 1971. 2'52", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on 16 mm)
· Pas question, Benet Rossell, 1971. 1'28", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Allons enfants!, Benet Rossell, 1973. 1'30", colour and b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Noir, mauve + barbe à papa. American Center, Paris, Benet Rossell, 1969. 9'10", b/w and colour, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· L'Accident, Benet Rossell, 1971. 52", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Le Chat noir, Benet Rossell, 1971. 45", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Baleine, Benet Rossell, 1970. 1', colour, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Statue de la Liberté, Benet Rossell, 1971. 1'20", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· L'École laïque, Benet Rossell, 1972. 4', b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Paix avec le Vietnam, Benet Rossell, 1969. 1'35", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Galata, Benet Rossell, 1972. 24', b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on 16 mm)
2. Portraits - The Other (5 works / 64 minutes / screened on video)
This session revolves around the subject of portraits, and includes recordings of photo booth portraits (Portrait I and II), and a tribute to Joan Rabascall (Rabascall, horoscope personnel), one of Rossell's travelling companions, in a work that is permeated with the creative life of Paris in the late sixties. A snippet of life and a testimony of one of the so-called «Catalans of Paris», this work was filmed by Rossell in Rabascall's creative environment, almost as a stylistic search for the defining characteristic of his work: collage.
En la ciudad... is the title of a collective feature film that included the piece by Benet Rossell and Lluís Maristany that is being shown here. It consisted of a project initiated and coordinated by Eugeni Bonet in 1976, in which he commissioned a group of artists to produce a film, in accordance with a series of parameters – a single format (super 8), a predefined duration, the same subject matter (the city). The work of Rossell and Maristany joins that of other artists such as Antoni Miralda, Juan Bufill, Antoni Muntadas, Manuel Huerga, Fina Miralles, Eugènia Balcells, Joan Rabascall, Iván Zulueta and Eugeni Bonet himself.
This session closes with a work created in collaboration with the performer Esther Ferrer, which shows her carrying out one of her body actions. In this case, Rossell plays the roles of director-video camera operator, and the work is presented as a specular relationship between action and recording, connected by an invisible thread. Filmed on video in a Parisian apartment, it is an intimate action that has never been publicly screened until now.
Artist Joan Rabascall will participate in this session.
· Portrait (I), Benet Rossell, 1969. 1', b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· En la ciudad..., Benet Rossell and Lluís Maristany, 1976-1977. 5', b/w, silent, super 8 (fragment)
· Rabascall, horoscope personnel, Benet Rossell, 1969. 10'52'', b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Portrait (II), Benet Rossell, 1974/1980. 3'30", b/n, sound, 16 mm (screened on video), French - subtitled
· Action corporelle: Esther Ferrer, Esther Ferrer. Directed by: Benet Rossell, 1974-1975. 39', b/w, sound, video
3. Animated Graphisms (8 works / 62 minutes / screened on video)
Rossell's output is characterized by the unmistakable graphisms that pervade much of his work, be it painting, printmaking, poetry books, illustrated books, cubes of resin, etc. This session allows us to see how his graphics take on movement in works like Darling, A priori and Calidoscopi. Darling, which uses a figurative style more similar to cartoons, and which Rossell made under the pseudonym Beni Rusel, has been specifically recovered for this program, and will be screened together with two earlier animated sketches: Animation personnage lunatique and Animation aimant.
· A priori, Benet Rossell, 1965-1979 / 2009. 18'19", colour, sound, HD video (screened on video)
· Valors esperats: 2+1=∫f(x)Ψ2(x)dx≈2+2, Benet Rossell, 1978 / 2006. 55", colour, sound, 35 mm and video (screened on video)
· El Fòrum de les oques, Benet Rossell, 2004. 1'52", colour, sound, video
· Calidoscopi, Benet Rossell and Jaume Xifra, 1971. 10', b/w, sound, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Animation personnage lunatique, Benet Rossell, 1969. 2'20", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Animation aimant, Benet Rossell, 1969. 4'15", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Darling, Beni Rusell, 1980. 7'40", colour, sound, 35 mm (screened on video)
· 1000 a Miró, Benet Rossell, 1993. 16'40", colour, sound, video
4. Broadening the Creative Process (11 works / 77 minutes / screened on video)
Digital Betacam Projection Aspect Ratio 16:9
We rarely have the opportunity to see artists engaged in the creative process, in a kind of "making of" that shows an art work captured as it is being made. This session leads viewers through some of the different possibilities of this genre, in the form of an extension of a «finished» work (Tirant lo Món, Peace is for Love and Mandorla Ignis), an accompaniment-record of the creative process in real time (In vino, vino!, Concert per a nou i martell, Una salut de ferro and El poeta i el seu doble), a stand alone piece (La Tour Eiffel c'est une radiographie), or even a document-projection of something that should have been, but never was (Foodculturemuseum.Barcelona).
· Tirant lo Món, Benet Rossell. Directed by: Jaume Vidal, 1999. 6'40", colour, sound, video
· L'espiral, Benet Rossell, 2008. 7'35", colour, sound, video
· Una salut de ferro, Benet Rossell, 2007. 7'48", colour, sound, video
· In vino, vino!, Benet Rossell, 2007. 4', colour, sound, video
· Peace is for Love, Benet Rossell, 1971. 2', b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Concert per a nou i martell, Benet Rossell, 2008. 3'53", colour, sound, video
· Ut pictura poesis, Benet Rossell, 2009. 3'06", colour, sound, video
· Foodculturemuseum.Barcelona, Benet Rossell, 2003/2006, 5'20", colour, sound, video
· La Tour Eiffel c'est une radiographie, Benet Rossell, 2007. 5'01", colour, sound, video
· El poeta i el seu doble, Benet Rossell, 2010. 12'15", colour, sound, video
· Mandorla Ignis, Benet Rossell, 1997. 20'10", colour, sound, video
Benet Rossell will attend this session
5. Documents – Film-Action (6 works / 91 minutes / screened on video)
The final session brings together some of the most representative and well-known films of Benet Rossell's film career. Two of them – Paris la Cumparsita and Boum! Boum! En avant la musique!, co-directed with Antoni Miralda – set up a dialogue between film as document and the filmed performances of some of the actions organised by the so-called «Catalans of Paris», including Antoni Miralda, Joan Rabascall and Dorothée Selz.
As a finishing touch, the session presents an unreleased 1974 triptych that Rossell has completed for this program, incorporating original 16 mm footage into a new element that he has used in several of his more recent works: the creation of the soundtrack, performed entirely by the artist himself.
· Paris la Cumparsita, Antoni Miralda and Benet Rossell, 1972. 25', colour, sound, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Cerimonials, Benet Rossell, 1974. 26', colour, sound, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Boum! Boum! En avant la musique!, Antoni Miralda and Benet Rossell, 1974 / 2007. 28'43", b/w, sound, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Avenue Boulevard de l'Opéra, Benet Rossell, 1974/2010. 3'11", b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Ikuo, Benet Rossell, 1974/2010. 2'31'', b/w, silent, 16 mm (screened on video)
· Pa i fang, Benet Rossell, 1974/2010. 11'11'', b/w, sound, 16 mm (screened on video)
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