After the Mirror

Available Light : After the Mirror

First cycle of videos organised by the collective Available Light.

From February 1st to June 30th, 2017 at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris.

Seepage 1. Ninna Bohn Pedersen, 2’57’’, single channel HD video, 2015

Seepage 1. Ninna Bohn Pedersen, 2’57’’, single channel HD video, 2015

For six months, the cycle After the mirror developed by Available Light, presents six videos in partnership with the Shakespeare and Company Anglophone Bookstore in Paris.

Each month, an artist's video will be presented continuously in the reading library of Shakespeare and Company. It will be shown on a screen in the place of a mirror that is usually hung there.

This first cycle of After the Mirror presents six international artists whose work focuses on video and is based on literary texts, archives or personal creations. Each of these six artists highlights six perspectives on the world, six ways of using this medium and six distinct artistic attitudes.

Artists: Sojung Jun, Ninna Bohn Pedersen, Laure Prouvost, Meggy Rustamova, Ayoung Kim, Irene de Andrés

In cinema, looking at a mirror is often a strong cinematographic gesture that raises various questions around the 'I'. In Stolen Kisses (1968) by François Truffaut, Antoine Doinel repeats in a loud voice, in front of his mirror, the names of women as well as his name without the audience knowing whether these people really exist. In Joan Jonas' Volcano Saga (1989), the mirror becomes digital effects of multiple layers creating a densely textured tale, in which a young woman (played by Tilda Swinton) hears her dreams and sees their meaning. Jonas offers a face-to-face, a mirroring device by superimposing the images. For Doinel or the Icelandic goddess, the mirror is like the place of an incantation toward a liberation.

The mirror, by its reproduction of the world, poses the question of the existence of things beyond its reflections as proof, as a trace justifying the existence of things. This aesthetic tool is not opened to the outside but around the 'I'. It becomes itself the object of the gaze and the repetition of the reflected and altered object. Impenetrable by its reflection, the mirror is the blindness of the other world. Like Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane (reflection on cinema, on technique of duplication as a mean of documenting, from mirror to reality) or Elsa Bannister in Lady from Shanghai by Orson Wells, the reflection is an infinity that does not lead to an exit, but to an alienating multitude of reflections that follow one another and confuse the characters. The desire to break the mirror, like Elsa Bannister when she shoots at one of the mirrors of the Magic Mirror Maze, can either mean wanting to protect or to eliminate herself. This gesture of breaking or destroying a mirror eliminates the duality that the latter implies.

With Performer / Audience / Mirror (1975), Dan Graham stands in front of a mirror facing a seated audience; it describes the movements of the public and what they mean. He then turns and describes himself and the audience in the mirror. Here, the mirror raises the question of the relation in between audience / interpreter and the notion of subjectivity / objectivity. Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) by Martha Rosler is a 'self-reflective' approach where the camera is the mirror, and she portrays from the start a reflection of our daily reality as a spectator. It takes the form of a demonstration of parodic cooking in which a static camera focuses on a woman in a kitchen. On the counter, in front of her, a variety of cooking utensils which she names and demonstrates, in an ironic grammar of sound and gesture. The mirror here is a metaphor, which can be considered as a projection out of the 'I', towards the outside, towards the thought of someone else.

Available Light: #1. After the Mirror is a cycle of movies and videos of artists that offers the encounter of one another. Each film illustrates in its own way an artistic gesture, an autonomous look and an approach to the world which is open to the collective. It takes place in a space in between, which is neither a cinema nor a white cube, but the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It is physically placed in this specific frame because here, a screen has come to replace the mirror that is usually hung in the library of this legendary place.