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L'Eye Filmmuseum presenta Cosmic Realism

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- La mostra retrospettiva inaugurale sull'acclamato duo di registi Véréna Paravel e Lucien Castaing-Taylor durerà fino al 20 maggio e prevede una serie di eventi paralleli e proiezioni

L'Eye Filmmuseum presenta Cosmic Realism
Leviathan di Véréna Paravel e Lucien Castaing-Taylor

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From 20 January-20 May, the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam is showcasing "Cosmic Realism", marking the debut retrospective of Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's oeuvre. Initially trained as anthropologists, they blend anthropology, documentary and visual art in their films, aiming to pioneer a cinematic dialect distinct from traditional human-centric narratives. Their pursuit revolves around crafting a sensory-driven cinematic language, diverging from conventional anthropological perspectives to explore the world through non-human lenses, often engaging in provocative encounters.

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Their works delve into vast, overarching themes, such as the earthly, the sea, the mind, sleep and the apocalypse. The exhibition guides viewers through seven immersive installations, offering insights into the evolution of the artists. Paravel and Castaing-Taylor view filmmaking as synonymous with research; they film while investigating and vice versa. Utilising the camera as a tool for exploration, they boldly approach – sometimes even embedding themselves within – their subjects without hesitation.

In crafting the film De Humani Corporis Fabrica [+leggi anche:
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intervista: Véréna Paravel, Lucien Cas…
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, which they have transformed into an eight-screen installation specifically for this exhibition, Paravel and Castaing-Taylor embarked on extensive research across five Parisian hospitals. Their camera not only slipped among patients, doctors and nurses, but also ventured into the intricate depths of the human anatomy, exploring aortas, blood vessels and brains during surgical procedures. Mirroring the surgeons depicted, the filmmakers unveil a previously unexplored cinematic frontier, transforming the human body into an eerie realm. However, the film's scope extends beyond mere anatomical examination, delving into the hospital's corridors, staff quarters, cafeterias and inner workings. This portrayal renders the hospital as a living organism, its network of passageways resembling a central nervous system, where interdependence among its elements becomes apparent.

In their acclaimed film Leviathan [+leggi anche:
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, renowned for its captivating exploration of the intricate bond between humanity and the sea, the filmmakers embarked on an extensive filming endeavour aboard a fishing cutter, outfitting it with numerous small GoPro cameras affixed to various points, including the vessel, its crew and the fishing nets. Through this method, they crafted a cinematic experience that offers a unique perspective not only from the point of view of the crew, but also from that of the fish, seagulls and the vast expanse of the sea. The immersive journey exposes viewers to a realm teeming with the sheen of jackets and the slime of unintended catch, where the gaze of captured fish meets the camera lens within nets, and the weathered countenances of fishermen resemble the texture of scales. This multisensory engagement is heightened by the auditory landscape, which ranges from the roar of crashing waves to the slithering movements of fish. Alongside the two aforementioned pieces, the exhibition features works such as Sheep Rushes, Caniba [+leggi anche:
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, Somniloquies and Ah Humanity!.

On Thursday 14 March, an Artist Talk featuring Paravel and Castaing-Taylor, moderated by Rachael Rakes, will delve into the intersections of anthropology, documentary, art and film. Through an illustrated discussion, the duo will explore the pieces showcased in the Cosmic Realism exhibition, intertwining fragments of ideas and longstanding collaborations present in their work. The conversation will be enriched with clips and dialogues, offering deeper insights into both the exhibition and the artists' practices across anthropology, documentary filmmaking, art and cinema.

Additionally, a series of screenings and special events will complement the exhibition, featuring films directed by the duo alongside works such as Sweetgrass by Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, El mar la mar by Joshua Bonnetta and JP Sniadecki, and Foreign Parts by Paravel and JP Sniadecki, with Sniadecki himself attending to give a talk on ethnographic cinema. Anthropological documentary experts Andrew Littlejohn and Ernst Karel will discuss their respective areas of expertise and the significance of sound in ethnographic film, while the DARKMATTER Collective will present two multimedia performance-lectures, including a collaboration between Mohamad Khezri Moghadam and dancer Saman based on an ethnographic photo series shot in Iran.

The complete schedule of the screenings and events can be found here.

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