12 September 2007

Babette Mangolte

London Whitechapel Gallery
Wednesday 12 September 2007, at 7:30pm

A rare screening of The Camera: Je or La Camera: I, followed by a discussion between filmmaker Babette Mangolte and Ian White, Adjunct Film Curator, Whitechapel. Presented in association with LUX and Mark Webber.

The Camera: Je or La Camera: I (Babette Mangolte, 1977)

Babette Mangolte, USA, 1977, 16mm, b/w & colour, sound, 88 minutes

An experimental film which acts out the view of a photographer on her subjects and the city she lives in, New York. The film uses a technique of subjective camera, to give to the spectator an active sense of the problematics in the relation of camera to subject, photographing to photographed.

The film is a description of the act of making photographs from the point of view of the still camera and therefore the point of view of the photographer. This technique of 'subjective camera' places the person who looks at the film in the same relation with the screen as the one of the photographer with her subjects, therefore giving to the spectator, on a first-hand basis, so to speak, a direct experience of the tension as well as the wanderings and timing of a photographic session, and a way to understand and perceive the relation between photographer and subject, a relation which is not about dialogue but about power, power of saying yes or no to the taking of the photograph, power however undermined by the elements of anxiety (coming from both sides, the subject and the photographer). The situation is turned around at the end of the film when the power is shown to belong to the performer on the screen, acting as a critic, looking at the photographs displayed in front of him, and questioning by his look the work of the photographer.

We guess along the way the character of the photographer, a woman, through the kind of pictures she is taking: portraits in the first part, streets and buildings in the second part. This double structure is conceived as a metaphor of the inherent dual aspect of the act of taking a photograph: being outside with the still camera, being removed and maintaining the distance which is felt necessary to judge and take the picture as opposed to the desire to participate and be included, to be inside of it ...

A going back and forth between observation and sentiment or imagination, the film is a self-portrait of the photographer-filmmaker during the years 1976-1977.

Presented in association with John Hansard Gallery, Southampton as part of the exhibition Live Art on Camera, 18 September - 10 November 2007, which includes photographic work by Babette Mangolte and others.

Babette Mangolte's new feature Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramovic, a document of the artist's week-long performance series at the Guggenheim Museum, will be screened in The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival in October.


Whitechapel Gallery
80-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX
Nearest Tube: Aldgate East

Tickets: £5
Telephone: 020 7522 7888
Email: film@whitechapel.org



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