History of Our World

Doug Aitken

Posted in Art, Film, Landscape, Photography by B on October 18, 2010

Blow Debris, 2000. Colour film transferred to 9 channel digital video installation, colour, sound and architectural environment, 21 min. cycle.

Electric Earth, 1999. Colour film transferred to 8 channel laserdisc installation, colour, sound, 9 min. 50 sec. cycle.

Electric Earth, 1999. Colour film transferred to 8 channel laserdisc installation, colour, sound, 9 min. 50 sec. cycle.

Who’s Under The Influence, 1999. Diptych.

Glass Barrier, 2000. C-print mounted on Plexiglas.

Diamond Sea, 1997. Colour film transferred to digital video, 3 channels, 3 projections, 1 monitor, Duratrans backdrop, sound and architectural environment, 10 min. cycle.

Diamond Sea, 1997. Colour film transferred to digital video, 3 channels, 3 projections, 1 monitor, Duratrans backdrop, sound and architectural environment, 10 min. cycle.

2 Second Separation, 2000. C-print mounted on Plexiglas.

Eraser, 1998. Colour film transferred to 7 channel digital video installation, sound and architectural environment, 20 min. cycle.


Amanda Sharp: Director Werner Herzog once explained that his book On Walking in Ice (1979) came about when he found out that a friend of his was dying in Paris. Herzog decided that if he walked from wherever he was – I assume Munich – to Paris, his friend lived: he felt he could keep his friend alive by walking. A work like this is about how individuals can attempt to alter – slow down or speed up – time, how they’re somehow part of a much bigger system.

Doug Aitken: We all encode our experiences of time at different rates. A single moment from several months ago may consume our thoughts, yet a whole summer five years ago may have completely vanished from our memory. We stretch and condense time until it suits our needs. You could say that time does not move in a linear trajectory, and moreover we’re not all following time using the same system.
When I was twenty-one I worked in an editing room for the first time. We were working long hours, day and night, but for me it was a new sensation, fresh and exciting. When finally I could go home to sleep, my dreams were extremely vivid. As I was moving through a dream, I would look down in the lower right hand corner of my dream and see numbers: a time code, like the date-time-minute-frame numbers used in editing raw footage. I was surprised I had never noticed this time code in my dreams before! I also recognized that I no longer needed to watch and witness my dreams passively; I could stop my dream like a freeze frame and look around as if watching a giant, frozen photograph. I could pull back and the dream would rewind so that I could reassemble it in new ways. That night I re-edited my dreams over and over again.
I suppose my working process is very nomadic. I’m not interested in working out of a sterile, traditional, white-cube studio. I’d like to find a methodology that is constantly sight specific, constantly in flux. Some works which are very fictional demand to be built and constructed as if part of a new reality, while others require an intense investigation into a specific landscape. I would like the permanence of my process to be as temporary as possible. I’d like to think of an absence of materialism where at the end of the day, all one needs is a table, a chair, a sheet of paper,possibly less. That would be nice: to be without routine and unnecessary possessions.
Uprooting and removal surrounds us, and at times these can be mirrored in our working process. At times I just let go and am assimilated into my landscapes, other times I feel an active resistance. I think there’s something about growing up in America that makes you feel nothing is ever really stationary. Home can be motion at times*.

*Excerpt from Amanda Sharp in conversation with Doug Aitken.

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Doug Aitken

Daniel Birnbaum : Amanda Sharp : Jörg Heiser

Phaidon

2005

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Doug Aitken

Doug Aitken on UbuWeb

Phaidon

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Freedom | Šarūnas Bartas

Posted in Film by B on May 16, 2010







This minimalist opus of the Lithuanian cinematic master Šarūnas Bartas, invites the viewer on the austere journey of three characters stranded in the Moroccan desert. Opening with the sun and magnitude of North Africa, three smugglers, are forced to run aground on a desolate, windswept shore after narrowly escaping an interception by police. Marooned and unable to speak the same language they struggle against an arid landscape and each other. Bartas chooses to render the spoken word virtually redundant deeming it unnecessary to communicate pain, lonliness or desire. He chooses instead to capture an emotion by focussing on a facial gesture, the jilted march of a colony of crustaceans or drifting sands over a barren topography. This originality of style, significance of theme and the sheer beauty of filmic image transcends traditional dramaturgy and heralds the establishment of Bartas as one of the great cinematic poets.

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Freedom

Šarūnas Bartas

2000

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Freedom

Šarūnas Bartas

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Kárhozat (Damnation) | Béla Tarr

Posted in Art, Film by B on May 9, 2010

The occasional, labored sound of inertia and friction emitted by the motion of mining cable cars disrupts the unnerving silence of Karrer’s (Miklós Székely B.) austere and sparsely furnished apartment as lethargic conveyances endlessly traverse along an overcast, desolate landscape, veiled in fog. This opening sequence of Kárhozat permeates the very essence of the film. The first collaborative project between Hungarian novelist László Krashnahorkai and filmmaker Béla Tarr (along with Tarr’s editor and wife, Agnes Hranitzky), Damnation is a bleak and nihilistic portrait of isolation, emotional betrayal, and ennui. Using a near static camera, slow pans, languid character motion, pervasive inclement weather, bleak industrial landscape, and a melancholic soundtrack by composer Mihaly Vig, Tarr reflects the desolation and spiritual lethargy of the directionless and morally bankrupt protagonists. Beautifully filmed and with haunting performances, this film cemented Tarr’s status as one of cinema’s most intriguing and powerful directors.

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Kárhozat (Damnation)

Béla Tarr : László Krashnahorkai : Agnes Hranitzky

1987

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Kárhozat (Damnation)

Béla Tarr

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All in the Present Must Be Transformed | Matthew Barney & Joseph Beuys

Posted in Art, Film, Object by A on February 19, 2010

Chrysler Imperial (Detail), Matthew Barney; 2002

(Cast concrete, cast petroleum jelly, cast thermoplastic, stainless steel, marble and internally lubricated plastic)

Crewmaster 2: The Ballad of Max Jensen, Matthew Barney; 1999

Eurasia Sibirische Symphonie 1963 (Eurasia Siberian Symphony 1963), Joseph Beuys; 1966

(Felt, fat, hare, painted poles and wood panel with chalk drawing)

De Lama Lamina: Oxria d Ferro, Matthew Barney; 2005

(Oxidized iron powder, petroleum jelly and graphite on embossed paper in a self-lubricating plastic frame)

The Department of the Host & Unmoulding, Matthew Barney; 2006

(Cast polycarolactone thermoplastic and self-lubricating plastic)

Wie man dem toten Hasen die Bilder Erklärt (How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare), Joseph Beuys; November 26 1965

Terremoto, Joseph Beuys; 1981

(Typesetting machine with fat, Italian flag wrapped in felt, chalk on nine blackboards, metal container with fat and lead type, recorder with cassette and printed brochure)

Stuhl mit Fett (Fat Chair), Joseph Beuys; 1981

(Wooden chair with fat)

Matthew Barney’s The Crewmaster Cycle on Display at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; 2003

Unschlitt/Tallow, Joseph Beuys; 1977

(Twenty tons of tallow fat cut into six elements)

“Had it not been for the Tartars I would not be alive today. They were the nomads of the Crimea, in what was then no man’s land between the Russian and German fronts, and favoured neither side. I had already struck up a good relationship with them, and often wandered off to sit with them. ‘Du nix njemcky’ they would say, ‘du Tartar,’ and try to persuade me to join their clan. Their nomadic ways attracted me of course, although by that time their movements had been restricted. Yet it was they who discovered me in the snow after the crash, when the German search parties had given up. I was still unconscious then and only came round completely after twelve days or so, and by then I was back in a German field hospital. So the memories I have of that time are images that penetrated my consciousness. The last thing I remember was that it was too late to jump, too late for the parachutes to open. That must have been a couple of seconds before hitting the ground. Luckily I was not strapped in – I always preferred free movement to safety belts… My friend was strapped in and he was atomized on impact – there was almost nothing to be found of him afterwards. But I must have shot through the windscreen as it flew back at the same speed as the plane hit the ground and that saved me, though I had bad skull and jaw injuries. Then the tail flipped over and I was completely buried in the snow. That’s how the Tartars found me days later. I remember voices saying ‘Voda’ (Water), then the felt of their tents, and the dense pungent smell of cheese, fat and milk. They covered my body in fat to help it regenerate warmth, and wrapped it in felt as an insulator to keep warmth in.” – Joseph Beuys

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All in the Present Must Be Transformed: Matthew Barney & Joseph Beuys

Mark C. Taylor | Christian Scheidemann | Nat Trotman | Nancy Spector

The Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin

2006

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The Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin

Matthew Barney

Joseph Beuys

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The Image as Rememberance | Giovanni Chiaramonte & Andrei Tarkovsky

Posted in Art, Film, Photography, Print by R on January 31, 2010

Civitavecchia, March 19, 1982

Civitavecchia, March 19, 1982

Bagno Vignoni, 1979-1982

Bagno Vignoni, 1979-1982

Bagno Vignoni, 1979-1982

Just outside Citta Ducale, ‘Church in the Water’, November 1982


An instantaneous mirror of memory, every photograph leaves a motionless trace of what has been, a fixed imprint of something that is no longer what it was before,a silent simulacrum of someone who has disappeared forever from our field of vision. And, as a simple act of remembering, the photograph seems to testify only to the disappearance and death of people and of the feelings that bind us to them, of things and of places where they belong.

Seen in this way, the act of remembrance is the recording of information imposed on the mind by exterior reality, according to the linear logic of necessity, the inexorable law of nature, the Euclidean mechanism of cause and effect that structures and governs human history in the shape of tragedy. The artist Tarkovsky says, must be ‘capable of going beyond the limitations of coherent logic, and conveying the deep complexity and truth of the impalpable connections and hidden phenomena of life’,* the deep complex truth of a life in which he was raised as the heir of one of the greatest poets of the generation of Pasternak, Mandekshtam, Akhmatova and Tsvetaeva.

For the poet Arseny Tarkovsky, Andrei’s father, ‘death does not exist/ we are all immortal/ and everything is immortal. At Seventeen/ one should not fear death, nor at seventy./ Being and light alone have reality, darkness and death have no existence,/ We are all already on the shore of the sea/ and are among those who drag the nets/ while immortality gleams beside them./ Live in the house and it will not fall down./ I shall call forth any century at all,/ to enter into it and build my house./ This is how your children and wives/ will sit with me at the table,/ One sole table for ancestor and descendant./ The future is happening now.’*

Within this genealogy, Andrei Tarkovsky… believes that ‘an artistic image is one that ensures its own development. This image is a grain, a self-evolving retroactive organism. It is a symbol of actual life, as opposed to life itself. Life contains death. An image of life, by contrast, excludes it, or else sees in it a unique potential of the affirmation of life. Whatever it expresses – even destruction and ruin – the artistic image is by definition an embodiment of hope, it is inspired by faith. Artistic creation is by definition a denial of death. Therefore it is optimistic, even if in an ultimate sense the artist is tragic.’*

* Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair, London, 1986

* Arseny Tarkovsky, ‘Life Life’, in La steppa [The Steppe], Pistoia, 1998

* Andrei Tarkovsky, Time Within Time: The Diaries 1970-1986, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair, London, 1994

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Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids

Edited by Giovanni Chiaramonte & Andrei Tarkovsky

Introduction by Tonino Guerra

Thames & Hudson

2004

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Giovanni Chiaramonte

Andrei Tarkovsky

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The Image as Rememberance | Giovanni Chiaramonte & Andrei Tarkovsky

Posted in Art, Film, Photography, Print by R on October 28, 2009

Myasnoye, 1980_I

Myasnoye, 1980

Myasnoye, 1980_II

Myasnoye, 1980

Myasnoye, September 1980

Myasnoye, September 1980

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981_II

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981_IV

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981_I

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981_III

Myasnoye, September 26, 1981

Myasnoye, October 2, 1981

Myasnoye, October 2, 1981

Seated on the railing of a balcony  against a backdrop of pale birch trees, a handsome woman, her lips closed, gives a hint of a smile. A young solider, his machine gun slung over his shoulder, stares ahead with an intense melancholy, his face stiffening under his bearskin cap, decorated with the five-pointed star of the Red Army. An old house, it’s logs worn and split by the passage of time, stands alone, immersed in the light, along the line of shadow at the edge of a wood.

These are Andrei Tarkovsky’s most beloved black and white images, the ones crucial to his destiny: his mother Maria Ivanovna, his father, Arseny, his childhood home at Ignatievo. Tarkovsky selected, reproduced, and pasted these and other photographs from his family album into a black diary he carried with him. A visual sequence of his life, a presence from the past that would accompany the director in his preparation and making of the film The Mirror and would stay with him, like a portable flashback that could be replayed again and again in moments of home-sickness throughout his short life, right up to his exile in Italy and his death in Paris on December 29, 1986.

Acceptance of the history of the people and the family of his birth, acknowledgment of the cultural tradition in which he was raised, a profound love of the desire for freedom and the creativity of mankind, made in the image and semblance of God: these are the foundations of Tarkovsky’s art. ‘In all my films,’ he wrote, ‘it seemed to me important to try to establish the links which connect people… those links which connect me with humanity, and all of us with everything that surrounds us. I need to have a sense that I myself am in this world as a successor, that there is nothing accidental about my being here. …I always felt it important to establish that I myself belong to a particular tradition, culture, circle of people or ideas.’*

The vitality of his sense of belonging also comes from accepting, acknowledging and loving the little images of his own genealogy, these humble traces of daily life observed through memory, viewed by remembering. Just as the dream sequence that runs through Ivan’s Childhood, awakens the little orphan to the sacrificial fulfillment of his destiny, so too does The Mirror reflect the decisive moments of the story by literally reconstructing those black and white photographs on the set as backgrounds for some of the scenes.

*Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair, London, 1986

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Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids

Edited by Giovanni Chiaramonte & Andrei Tarkovsky

Introduction by Tonino Guerra

Thames & Hudson

2004

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Giovanni Chiaramonte

Andrei Tarkovsky

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Kustom Kar Kommandos, Invocation Of My Demon Brother & Lucifer Rising – Kenneth Anger

Posted in Film by B on October 14, 2009

Kenneth Anger, Kustom Kar Kommandos, 1965

Kustom Kar Kommandos
1965
3 Minutes
16mm Colour
Music by the Parris Sisters, “Dream Lover.”

Following Scorpio Rising Anger was the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant to make Kustom Kar Kommandos, which he originally conceived as a feature-length, starring the customized car as a fetish object and tribal totem to another American boy cult. But the initial concept was soon abandoned after attempts to raise funds for its completion were unsuccessful. The footage shot in the actual garages of the kustomizers in California was edited to the single three minute pop song by the Parris Sisters, initiating the music clip as it subsequently evolved: a short film and microcosm compressed into the space of one song. KKK is a concept condensed to its essence. The slow sinuous camera pans mirror the breathless “Dream Lover” lyrics, beginning and ending with the contrapuntal roar of engines. Rather than the frenetic dynamic montage in Scorpio Rising, KKK features long takes and pans (creating the effect of sensuality and serenity) in a hermetic zone, where the kustom kar and its driver, Sandy Trent, re-enact an initiation rite: as if sacred experience. In 1958 when the film called Hot Rod Gang a.k.a Fury Unleashed, was released apparently it was unthinkable to say “hot rod” in public for fear of arousing disorder (it couldn’t be released under this title), and it was considered dangerous rabble-rousing stuff at the time. Anger’s film explored the forbidden world of these young men and their fetishized machines.

Kennth Anger, Invocation Of My Demon Brother, 1969

Invocation Of My Demon Brother
1969
11 Minutes
16mm, Colour
Music by Mick Jagger on the Moog Synthesizer.

Probably more than all of Kenneth Anger’s films, Invocation Of My Demon Brother comes closest to the cinematic state of of hypnosis the filmmaker sought. It is a short, intense, ritualistic film with a rough, almost naive synthesizer track by Mick Jagger. The “shadow prints” and the dialectical relationship between structure and chaos are amplified with the hypnotic waves of the mono-tonal synthesized soundtrack. Invocation‘s abstract non-narrative imagery, rough edges and minimal visual flow was technically even more ambitious than the previous work with Inauguration with its fast motion, stills and multiple impositions. For the first time, Anger had an original soundtrack to accompany the film, composed by Mick Jagger on his new Moog synthesizer. It is quite possibly the most adventurous and the original solo project Jagger ever worked on, and the soundtrack was a gift.

Poster for Lucifer Rising, designed by Page Wood for the Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York, 1980
Kenneth Anger, Lucifer Rising, 1970 - 1981

Lucifer Rising
1970 – 1981
30 Minutes
16mm, colour
Music by Bobby Beausoleil (originally by Jimmy Page)

“After these appeared
A crew who under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus and their train
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused
Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek
Their wand’ring gods disguised in brutish forms
Rather than human.”

-John Milton, Paradise Lost.

The visual narrative of Lucifer Rising, 1970 – 1981, Angers most ambitious project to date, was originally inspired by Crowley’s poem Hymn to Lucifer (“…His body a blood-ruby radiant / With noble passion, sun soiled Lucifer…With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence / The key of Joy is disobedience”), which recalls John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, 1667. It was Milton’s version of Lucifer that Aleister Crowley and Anger took as a departure point in their respective representations of the beautiful and rebellious angel of light; Lucifer not the devil, but Venus, the morning star. The notion of visual narration is expressed in Paradise Lost when Milton has the angel Michael guide Adam to the top of the high hill to show him a vision (in narrative form) of things to come. In anticipation of the vision, Adam’s eyes had first to be cleansed in an elaborate ritual cleansing: “The Film” was first removed from Adam’s “eyes” the “visual nerve” was then purged by “three drops” from the “Well Of Life” and “the inmost seat of mental sight” was finally exposed so Adam could behold that vision of history insofar as Milton could envision it using both scriptural and mythological sources. Lucifer Rising alludes to the “fallen angel” of orthodox Christian mythology, who in Anger’s film is restored to his Gnostic status as “the Bringer Of Light”; an implicit part of Crowley’s own teachings.

Robert Haller has commented that Griffith’s Intolernace and Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico! are the two films which most closely resemble Anger’s leap into the unknown in Lucifer Rising. Anger discussed the dialectical relationship between the two films in a statement of intention, commenting on the work before filming was completed.

“The film Lucifer Rising is my answer to Scorpio Rising – which was a death mirror held up to American Culture. And for my own sake I had to make an answer to it even though I still see plenty of thanatic elements at work in America. It’s a film about the love generation, but seen in depth – like in the fourth dimension. And I call it a love vision, and it’s all about love – the violence as well as the tenderness… I began shooting with the spring equinox. I’m type casting in my film, and one thing I’ve found is that since my film is about demons – but demon lovers – I have to work fairly fast because they tend to come and go… A demon is just a convenient way of labeling a force… Like Scorpio Rising, Lucifer Rising is about several things. I’m an artist working in Light, and that makes my whole interest, really. Lucifer is the Light God, not the devil, that’s Christian slander. The devil is always other peoples Gods. Lucifer has appeared in other of my films; I haven’t labeled him as such but there’s usually a figure or moment in these films which is my “Lucifer Moment”… I’m showing actual ceremonies in the film; what is performed in-front of the camera won’t be a re-enactment and the purpose will be to make Lucifer rise… It’s the birthday party for the Aquarian Age… Everything I’ve been saying so far has been leading up to this. I’ve been exploring myself and now I’ve got to communicate it. Lucifer is the Rebel Angel behind what’s happening in the world today. His message is that the “Key of Joy is Disobedience.”

Kustom Kar Kommandos

Invocation Of My Demon Brother

Invocation Of My Demon Brother (with commentary by Kenneth Anger)

Lucifer Rising

Kenneth Anger – A Demonic Visionary, Alice L. Hutchison

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Kenneth Anger

Aleister Crowley

First Light, Robert Haller

Black Dog Publishing

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East of Que Village, Yang Fudong

Posted in Art, Film by A on October 5, 2009

East of Que Village

East of Que Village

East of Que Village

East of Que Village

East of Que Village

East of Que Village, Yang Fudong, 2007.

Yang Fudong trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, China. At the end of the 1990’s he opted to trade painting for the media of film and video and soon became one of China’s most important contemporary artists. Fudong has twice taken part in the Venice Biennial (2003 & 2007), and his work has also been exhibited in Kunsthalle in Vienna, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Castello di Rivoli.

East of Que Village centres on an untamed and untethered pack of dogs, surviving at the most basic level of existence, in an arid, desolate, and unforgiving expanse of northern Chinese landscape. A handful of humans also appear, engaged in their own dogged battle for survival.

The work questions the value of life in contemporary China, and the desires an individual has a right to expect from his or her existence. It is perhaps Fudong’s most personal film to date, drawing on the bitter and cold feelings that he associates with the rural China of his childhood, and which embody for him a sense of isolation and loss that is increasingly present within society.

Here the film is exhibited at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Belgium.

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Yang Fudong

ShanghART Gallery

M HKA

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Bearing, Darren Almond, 2007

Posted in Art, Film by A on September 21, 2009

Bearing Still

Bearing

Bearing, Darren Almond, 2007.

From the exhibit Fire Under Snow at the Parasol unit, London (18 January 2008 – 30 March 2008)

Darren Almond’s diverse work, incorporating film, installation, sculpture and photography, deals with evocative meditations on time and duration as well as the themes of personal and historical memory.

Almond is interested in the notions of geographical limits and the means of getting there – in particular, culturally specific points of arrival and departure. Many of Almond’s works are filmed in remote and often inaccessible locations.

The artist followed a sulphur miner in Indonesia during one of the labourer’s daily journeys from the mouth of a crater to the weighing station to produce Bearing, shot with a high definition camera.

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Parasol Unit

Galerie Max Hetzler

White Cube

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Instant Light, Andrei Tarkovsky

Posted in Art, Film, Print by R on September 2, 2009

Bagno Vignoni, 1979 - 1982, Andrei Tarkovsky

For many millenia,

man has been striving after happiness;

but he is not happy, Why not?

Because he cannot achive it,

becuase he does not know the way –

both these reasons.

Above all, however,

because in our earthly lives

there must not be ultimate happiness,

but only the aspiration towards it,

in the future;

there has to be suffering,

becuase it’s through suffering,

in the struggle between good and evil,

that the spirit is forged.

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Andrei Tarkovsky

Instant Light, Tarkovsky Polaroids

Thames & Hudson

R