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CAPTURING METAMORPHOSIS

Allard Pierson Museum
Oude Turfmarkt 127-129
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

September 1 – October 31, 2010

with new works by James Beckett, Rob Johannesma, Lawrence Malstaf, Barbara Philipp, and Rebecca Sakoun

The exhibition takes the central concept of metamorphosis as a means to stage a creative dialogue between contemporary and ancient art, new and old media, and practices of image making. Five artists took the collection of the Allard Pierson Museum as a point of departure to develop new works, shown here with a selection of archaeological artifacts.

Monkeyshines #4: A Reverse Engineered Re-Enactment for the Purpose of Creating an Illusion of Continuous Motion

Installation in two parts (16mm film,11 minutes; light box with eight rows of colour slide film)

In Monkeyshines #4, the film shows a man in a photo studio repeating a series of movements that are photographed at key moments. The vertically arranged rolls of slides show these moments, but if read across seem to suggest a sequence of a completely different movement. The visual resemblance to Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic studies of motion is not coincidental. The performer was given the assignment to separately enact the eight poses of Muybridge’s Plate 160: Jumping: running broad jump. While the photographer’s task was to photograph the moments of maximal resemblance with the image from Muybridge, the film registers the same performance, but rather reveals the attempts to achieve the poses. At the decisive moments, the photographer releases the photo camera’s shutter and triggers the flash light which overexposes a frame from the film, thereby effectively erasing the image on it. The film and the series of slides are set up in an antagonistic media dialogue which seeks to capture the same moment, but ends up capturing its different aspects. This reading of Muybridge, stages his desire to reveal the micro-temporality of motion, but deconstructively. Monkeyshines #4 comments on this fantasy of veracity associated with the photographic medium, to make us aware of how highly mediated each situation of image production is. We become aware of how images can construct motion, instead of merely recording it. Ancient Greek artists also touched upon this very precise moment. When representing bodies in motion they had to deal with the limitations of their medium and use the convex surface of their vases. They indicated the stages of a movement, but also introduced distortions in the athletes’ bodies to further convey the suggestion of motion.

Text by Alena Alexandrova