Monday 20 March 2006

La Bataille de Waterloo and other rare 35mm films by Marcel Broodthaers

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Artprojx +
Hauser & Wirth
'La Bataille de Waterloo' and other rare 35mm films by Marcel Broodthaers
with an introduction by Maria Gilissen and Barry Barker

Monday 20 March 2006, 6 - 8 pm. Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, London WC2

Screening organised by David Gryn,,, 07711 127 848

Special thanks to Maria Gilissen and Marie Puck Broodthaers

Additional programme notes by Lucy Bradnock, Hauser & Wirth

Event partners:

Artprojx 06 is kindly supported by Arts Council England, Lottery Funded
design: fetherstonhaugh


Broodthaers and ‘La Bataille de Waterloo’
Marcel Broodthaers was a major figure in the fields of conceptual art and institutional critique. He was born in Brussels in 1924 and began his artistic career as a poet and filmmaker before he decided to become a visual artist. In 1964, he performed the symbolic act of embedding fifty copies of his poetry book Pense-Bête in plaster, creating his first sculpture. In 1968, he founded the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles in his home. This installation was followed by several further manifestations of the ‘museum’ that were exhibited in public institutions, such as the Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (1970) and the Neue Galerie at Documenta 5 in Kassel (1972). He moved to London in 1973, where he exhibited his seminal installation ‘Décor: A conquest by Marcel Broodthaers’ in the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 1975 - it is this which will be shown again in London at Hauser & Wirth from September 22 to October 28, 2006. In 1976 Marcel Broodthaers died of liver disease in Cologne.
For the 1975 exhibition, Broodthaers set up two rooms on the upper floor of the ICA with furniture, plants, firearms, photographs and several other objects to accompany his film. One room represents the nineteenth century, with a contemporary interior design and two cannons and a rifle from the Napoleonic era (props for film studios from Bapty & Co. Ltd., Stage and Film Warlike Stores). The other room represents the twentieth century, with an arrangement of typical garden furniture and shelves stacked with machine guns to remind the visitor of the Vietnam war.
The accompanying film consists of shots filmed inside the installation, combined with scenes recorded at the rehearsal and display of the Trooping the Colour on 14 June, 1975. The brutality of war, a central concern of Broodthaers’ film, is complemented by its use of the romantic melodies of Wagner’s Tristan, highlighting the bizarre conflicts that the installation presents and the absurdity of the war that it evokes. The film was first shown to the public at the Tate Gallery in 1976.

Clef d’Horloge (Poème cinémathographique
en l’honneur de Kurt Schwitters) 1957, 16mm, b/w, sound, 7’, Brussels
Broodthaers’ first film, Clef d’Horloge, was made using a borrowed camera and some film stock that he had been given. It was shot at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, in 1956, during an exhibition of works by Kurt Schwitters. The film is made in negative and positive and is based on several works that were on display. It premiered on 23 April 1958 at ‘Filmexprmntlfilm’, an experimental film convention in Brussels.

Figures of Wax (Jeremy Bentham) 1974, 16mm, col., sound, 15’, London
The figure of wax to which the title alludes is that of philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), one of the founders of the University of London. The film was shot over a period of two days in three locations: the hall of University College, London, where Bentham’s wax figure sits in a glass-fronted case; Oxford Street; and the City of London. Subtitles indicate a dialogue between Broodthaers and Bentham, in addition to a spoken commentary delivered by Charlotte Hardman. The film is accompanied by Broodthaers playing scales and music by Beethoven and Chopin on the piano.

Ceci ne serait pas une Pipe (Un film du Musée d’Art Moderne) 1969/70, 35mm, b/w, 2’20”
This is one of a series of films that Broodthaers made on the subject of the pipe, a reference to the work of René Magritte. A static camera depicts images of a pipe, clock, and smoke against a whitewashed brick wall. The superimposed titles were added in 1971, and include the labels ‘Figure I’ and ‘Figure II’, phrases that recur throughout Broodthaers oeuvre, and echo Magritte’s concern with the relationship between object, image and language.

Eau de Cologne 1974, 35mm, col., sound, 2’, Cologne
A child’s voice at the beginning and end of the film repeats its title and the date, 1974, in French, German and English in such a way as to evoke the number 4711 of the well-known Cologne scent of that name. Vertical panning shots of Cologne Cathedral and of Broodthaers holding a potted palm tree are accompanied by an accordion playing Le Chaland qui Passe. The film was previewed in a slightly longer format in June 1974 at the Melville Paris Pullman cinema in Cologne, though Broodthaers’ subsequently cut it to two minutes for its first public screening.

La Lune 1970, 35mm, 3’, Brussels
Monsieur Teste 1974/75, 35mm, col., 2’, Brussels/Paris
The film shows a suited mechanical dummy reading the French newspaper L’Express. Static camera work is juxtaposed with the movement of the camera from side to side, echoing the motion of the figure’s head as he peruses the journal. Though shot in Brussels, the film was edited in Paris and was initially titled Mouvement, which Broodthaers subsequently changed to Monsieur Teste.

Projet Pour un Poisson (Projet pour un Film) 1970/71, 35mm, b/w, 9’, Brussels/Cologne
The main part of this film was created by the process of superimposition: Broodthaers’ ink drawings of fish, scales, words and signs were transferred to film stock, which was used in negative to create the final work. In contrast, the title sequence, added in 1971, shows Broodthaers’ drawn storyboards filmed with a moving camera. The film was shown for the first time at the Galerie Michael Werner in Cologne in 1971, and a second film Le Poisson est Tenace, was created partly from its out-takes.

Crime à Cologne 1971, 35mm, b/w, 1’30”, Cologne
In 1971, Broodthaers’ exhibited at the Cologne Art Fair and the Galerie Michael Werner nineteen altered copies of the fair’s catalogue. He inscribed onto the books the names of nineteen poets, artists and filmmakers, which he also displayed in the gallery window. This film was shot at the gallery during the exhibition, where a woman reads a book by John Blackberry. The music, which continues throughout the film, even after the last image, is Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), 1859.

La Pipe Satire 1969/70, 35mm, b/w, 3’, Brussels
Une Seconde d’Eternité (D’apres une idée de Charles Baudelaire) 1970, 35mm, b/w, 1”, Berlin
In a film that he declared to be inspired by Charles Baudelaire, Broodthaers employed the techniques of animation. Using a pencil on white card, he drew his initials in twenty four stages and filmed each drawing in one opening of the camera shutter. The resulting film was projected at 24 frames per second, so that it lasted just one second. It was screened in a continuous loop at the Galerie Folker Skulima, alongside a sculpted reproduction of the 24th frame, as a means of ‘presenting the static against the kinetic image’.

Un Film de Charles Baudelaire 1970, 35mm, col., sound, 7’, Brussels/Paris
This film was made on the occasion of a seminar on Charles Baudelaire given by Lucien Goldmann at Brussels University in 1969-70. It exists in an English version and a French one, the latter never shown during Broodthaers’ lifetime. The film purports to be the second version of a (fictional) film made by Baudelaire in 1850 in memory of his (actual) voyage across the Pacific. It was shot using a world map mounted on black board, filmed in its entirety and in extreme close-up. The subtitles were superimposed on the final prints.

Un Jardin d’Hiver (ABC) 1974, 35mm, col., sound, 6’, Brussels
The subject of the film is Broodthaers’ installation of a winter garden – including palm trees, folding chairs and natural history prints - in one room of a group exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in January 1974. The film was shown as part of the installation Un Jardin d’Hiver II in Broodthaers’ solo exhibition, ‘Catalogue-Catalogus’, at the same museum later that year. The sound track that accompanies the film is one that Broodthaers had discovered in a sound studio.

Berlin oder ein Traum mit Sahne 1974, 35mm, col., sound, 10’, Berlin
Broodthaers made the film in 1974 while holding a residency under the DAAD programme. It was shown at the Nationalgalerie on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Invitation pour une exposition bourgeoise’ in the spring of 1975. The film - which depicts Berlin scenery, intercut with scenes of Broodthaers smoking, reading, eating and daydreaming - is accompanied by the sound of Maria Gilissen playing the tune Parlami d’amore, Mariú on the accordion.