Saturday 21 June 2008

The Image To Come: How Cinema Inspires Photographers

The debate over the similarities and differences between photography and cinema is as old as the two media themselves and while this fascinating exhibition currently on show at CCCB, Barcelona is the latest in a long list to explore the relationship between the two disciplines it is, much to its credit, a lot more original than many of its counterparts.

Magnum have teamed up with Cinémathèque Française and invited ten of their photographers to produce original works in response to specific film (or a single scene within the film), filmmaker, period or style and in this way demonstrates the influence of cinema in their own imagery.

The results are as wonderfully eclectic as the different generations and schools of documentary photography that the photographers represent. For example Abbas juxtaposes clips from Robert Rosselllini´s Paisà, (1946) against his own black and white photographs of violent and convulsive scenes of civil war that erupted on the streets across Tehran between 1978 and 1980 during the Iranian revolution. Rioting, demonstrations, arrests, executed bodies and the like are depicted through a series of 18 images while two large format projections of Rossellini´s film run simultaneously, the desired effect of which is to draw parallels between the similar aesthetic approaches and themes of heroism, nationalism and war. Essentially they are bound by brutal realism.


Utterly different in tone and technique is Antoine d´ Agata´s private autobiographical diary of his stay in Tokyo inspired by Oshima´s Empire of the Senses. His photos are not hung, but take the form of a film called Aka Ana, in which he stars as the main character who is seen with a lover. Far from being sexually explicit, the way their bodies glide over one another is in fact more sensual than anything, and the close up camera shots and disorientating perspectives make many of the body parts hard to discern. The design of the video installation itself is such that it seamlessly interweaves still photographs with moving images, so the boundary between the two works becomes blurred.

©Antoine d´ Agata

Elsewhere, Alec Soth pays homage to Wim Wender´s cult classic Kings Of The Road(1979) that was based on the story of a wonderer who fixed film projectors for a living in a time when cinemas were rapidly disappearing in the German Federal Republic. Soth is a renown photographer of modern American life who often reveals striking yet vacuous and disturbing aspects of his country; for this project, he travelled across Texas taking pictures of thirty six abandoned movie theatres and one funeral parlour to follow in the footsteps of this film that profoundly marked his teenage years.

©Alec Soth

Each pairing is so unique in this exhibition that the viewer never tires nor do they grow complacent since there is no formula, no repetition. There are, instead, many different slices of reality on display, showing how cinema left an imprint on these photographer´s psyche and, in turn, how this imprint manifested in their work.

Magnum 10 Sequences
Until September 7th