All my life

Film cycle around Mark Cohen
October 1st - November 26, 2013

In order not to be here, 2002

Deborah Stratman

Mark Cohen's photography – instinctive, compulsive, mostly intruvise – creates an unsual atmosphere, almost confusing.

Stolen images, fragmented bodies, a disconcerting sense of the still-life scenery, as far as possible of romantic clichés. Mark Cohen's framing technique, wandering across the streets with his camera and looking for subjects reminds us by its immediacy the direct cinema born in North America in the late 50s (the Canadian National Movie Office directors, Donn Alan Pennebaker, Frederick Wiseman, etc...). Yet, unlike these directors, his photography isn't documentary at all and reveals a visual violence and a new sense of urgency which are unique. In the experimental cinema field, the technical casualness (a camera and its flash) and the absence of predetermined subjects evokes Jonas Mekas's movies and the way he built all of his new bulletins. But we don't find in Lost Lost Lost's author the same energy or brutality. Mekas tried to build some kind of dramaturgy, nonexistent in Cohen's work.

The two screenings will try to shed light on the american photographer process, through the formal concept of fragmentation and with the central theme of his work : Which America is photographed here ?

Fragments / Tuesday October 1st, 2013 - 8 PM

The spontaneous framing style of Mark Cohen, mostly with close-up shots of his subjects, leads to a framing which deliberately introduces the accidental into the photographic process. The large shots are rare : the bodies are often truncated and the faces are out of cameral range. By this almost controlled gesture – so immediate that any kind of precision is absolutely impossible c  the photograph divides up his subjects. From a formal point of view, the "fragment" theme is in the heart of his work. 

In Pair Of by Volker Schreiner, the found-footage german director gathers film extracts, mostly from the Hollywood production. This way, he fragmented original works to focus on every shots, every details which may illustrate his words. In Prelude 6 by Maria Kourjouta, an animated film made of photographs of New-York, the director manifests the movement as this fixed and closed-up images of the bystanders's feets to express the city nervousness. With Mary Helena Clark and The Plant, another strategy operates. The director opens new narrative ways and shutters them instantly : one main character suddently disappear. Then, our attention is guided on a architecturally spectacular building. The movie switches between colours and black & white without explanation. This is the essence of an odd, mysterious and cryptic speech, clouding the reading. We find this detail attention in Gunter Deller (Schattengrenze), Tomonari Nishikawa (Market Street), or Aldo Tambellini (Black Plus X). They also share Mark Cohen's investigation field : public spaces, the street. 

With Ptkho, the kurdish director Mahine Rouhi, as a photographer, fragments the body (animal this time), so tronced that it isn't recognizable. The screening ends with Nathaniel Dorsky last opus, Song, which even if it expresses a lyricism nonexistent in Mark Cohen's work, shares with it a certain beauty. 

Pair Of  by Volker Schreiner, 2011, video, n&b, son, 4’ 38
Prelude 06 by Maria Kourkouta, 2008-2010, vidéo, n&b, son, 1’47
The Plant by Mary Helena Clark, 2012, video, coul, son, 8’11
Schattengrenze by Gunter Deller, 1999, 16 mm, n&b, son, 9’20
Market Street by Tomonari Nishikawa, 2005, 16 mm, n&b, sil, 9’
Black Plus X by Aldo Tambellini, 1966, 16 mm, n&b, son, 9’
Ptkho by Mahine Rouhi, 2001, 16 mm, n&b, son, 7’
Song by Nathaniel Dorsky, 2013, 16 mm, coul, son, 18’30

Amerika / Tuesday November 26, 2013 - 8 PM

The screening seems like a journey through America, from the East Coast (New York with David Rimmer) to the West Coast (California with Bruce Baillie and Laida Lertxundi) with views on New Jersey (Fern Silva) and Illinois (Deborah Stratman), with american directs (except for Laida Lertxundi, born in Bilbao but based in California). 

All My life by Bruce Baillie, presented in Cannes for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in 1970, will be the first movie of the series. The lyrical movies by Bruce Baillie – one of the founding member of the Canyon Cinema in San Francisco – inspire the experimental cinema since the 60s. A panoramic shot on a wall moves in a slow, continuous and rising to the sky travelling, the time for Ella Fitzgerald to sing All My Life. In Laida Lertxundi's movies, which explicitly refer to Bruce Baillie, the characters wander with no goals. The same scenes are seen again, re-framed, and the diagetic use of music is disturbing. A sense of the puzzling, the incongruous, also present in Mark Cohen's work, which offers a surrealist vision of America. Yet, Real Italian Pizza (David Rimmer) and Spinners (Fern Silva) are more close to some observation movie, linking with the prosaic dimension of Mark Cohen's images. 

Two movies end the programme, Little Girl (Bruce Baillie) and In Order Not To Be Here (Deborah Stratman). Both create a disturbing atmosphere, close to Cohen's universe. In Stratman's movie, entirely recorded at night, the director shows the suburbs landscape : empty parkings, Drive-Thru, 24/ groceries. Many places that seem abandonned but which are under surveillance. A heavy-handed secured America which is scared by itself. 

All My Life by Bruce Baillie, 1966, 16 mm, coul, son, 10’
My Tears are Dry by Laida Lertxundi, 2009, 16 mm, coul, son, 4’
Spinners by Fern Silva, 2008, 16 mm, coul, son, 7’
Real Italian Pizza by David Rimmer, 1971, 16 mm, coul, son, 10’
Little Girl by Bruce Baillie, 1994-95, 16 mm, coul-n&b, sil, 3’
In order not to be here by Deborah Stratman, 2002, 16 mm, coul, opt, 33’

Practical info

Cinéma des Cinéastes 

7, avenue de Clichy - 75017 Paris



Mark Cohen

Dark knees (1969-2012)

September 27 - December 8, 2013


Talk with Christopher Morris

Tuesday October 2, 2013 - 8 PM

The abstraction of space

Talk with Toshio Shibata

Wednesday 9 October 2013 at 8PM

Super Vision

Talk with Mishka Henner

Wednesday October 23, 2013 - 8 PM

Mark Cohen's surrealist visions

Conference by Guillaume Le Gall

Wednesday November 27, 2013 - 8 PM

Mark Cohen

Dark Knees