Where: Whitechapel Gallery
When: June 2014
I'd like to say I was a big fan of the work of Chris Marker but that would not be the whole truth. In all honesty a lot of it up until very recently was hard to come by with exhibitions and screenings in short supply. Instead it would be fair to say I'm a fan of the work I'd seen, in particularly the film Sans Soleil (1982) which in these days and times is like someone being sent video fragments of a friend's trip and narrating their blog posts alongside the images. Of course this work is perhaps 1000 times more insightful than your typical travel blog.
This exhibition covers both Marker's work as a photographer as well as his films and installation work. The exhibition starts with some simple portrait photographs from his Staring Back (2002) series which show the loneliness inherent in the crowd and also embrace the fact that people react differently to having their photo taken by a stranger and outsider.
We then enter the Zapping Zone (1990-94), an installation of TVs and computers displaying Marker's idea of multichannel TV, both serious and humorous. At first the swell of information is overwhelming but I have fun playing with the computer and watching some of the more amusing screens.
After that we check out the big screen where Marker's famous grinning cat avatar navigates us through Second Life and shows us the invasion of the cat in popular culture as well as some film posters that wouldn't look out of place in a B3ta image challenge! Heading further in there are all the travel guides that Marker provided photos for and a great quote about his alternate career!
We then watch the film Statues Also Die (1953), a moving documentary on the destruction of African art due to western colonisation and how it removed the practicality and purpose from the items that were created. Instead the items became handicrafts, an industry in themselves for tourists instead of cups, spoons, combs, chairs that were intended to be used, not placed in a museum.
We head upstairs and passed La Jetee (1962) as we had both seen it numerous times and entered the final section of the exhibition dealing with Marker's more political works. We see a juxtaposition of Vietnam protests and left wing marches alongside the recent Iraq war demonstrations and the left wing rally against the far right in France. It seems we never learn and nothing changes!
The exhibition finishes with the film after which it is named. We stay for a bit but with at three hours in length we don't have the time to sit through all of it. A Grin Without a Cat deals with the events before and after the famous events in Paris from May 1968 and what has happened since. It is made up of interviews with the public with a brief commentary to link the sections.
I leave wanting more, precisely to be able to watch all the films, photographs and multimedia that Marker has produced throughout is long life. I feel engaged and educated and feel like I should be doing more with my life. Instead we go eat some Nonya food! Such is the way of the world.
When: June 2014
Where: 102 Old Street London
Being perfectly out of synch with the natural order of things, we arrive for dinner, which in reality is lunch just before the restaurant opens. We wait in a park across the street with a drunk and a man with a noisy dog. The restaurant blends in well with the various curry houses, kebab restaurants and the erotica shop located nearby. A small group enter shortly after the sign is switched from closed to open and we follow them in. The menu appears to be a simple mix of Chinese favourites and Malaysian curries.
We start with a beer, some satay and clear spring rolls. The food comes quickly and the portions are generous. The satay is good but the amount of sauce is a little disappointing, but the beer washes it down well. For mains we have the duck curry which although a little greasy is very tasty and the Blachan Chicken. We have a plain rice and a delicious coconut rice. Again portions are on the generous side and the food comes quickly.
Sedap: 102 Old Street, London, EC1V 9AY 0207 490 0200 http://www.sedap.co.uk/nonflash.html
Whitechapel Gallery: 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX 020 7522 7888 www.whitechapelgallery.org/