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Exhibitions 01|2011

29 January–25 April 2011
Robert Cahen.
Narrating the Invisible

ZKM | Media Museum, Project Space
Opening: Fri. 28 Jan, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the ZKM_Foyer

Information auf Deutsch
Conversation and video screening
Interview with Robert Cahen
Robert Cahen in conversation with Isaac Julien

The French artist Robert Cahen (born in Valence in 1945, lives and works in Mulhouse) is one of the great pioneers and narrators of video art. After studies in composition in the context of Musique concrète and first experiences making short films, Cahen developed in his early videos the key principles which have characterised his oeuvre: a narrative approach scarce in words that relies on the montage of images and music, an interest in the passage from still to moving image, the use of slow-motion to heighten the perception of the otherwise unseen. The exhibition Robert Cahen. Narrating the Invisible seeks to shed light on the artist’s recent video installations and invites reflection on his oeuvre as a whole.

In parallel with his activities as a composer and director of experimental video at the French national television service ORTF, Cahen began to create videos in the early 1970s which conveyed non-linear and multi-layered narratives through the conscious juxtaposition of image and sound. His editing style bore witness in equal measure to film and video history (notably to the tradition of Surrealist film) and to Musique concrète. This musical movement stood for music-making freed from the constraints of writing and encouraged an experimental handling of sounds fixated by way of recording devices. Similarly, Cahen freely edited his video material through the use of electronic instruments, obtaining surprising visual effects which enabled him to express his narratives.

The exhibition presents eight video installations by Cahen, a format in which he has been working since the mid-1990s (he was awarded the ZKM's International Video Art Prize for his installation Sept Visions Fugitives in 1995). The majority of the works on show are large video projections which require a dark exhibition space. A cinematic experience is created in that the work envelops the viewer both through the image and sound and through its spatial environment. In his works Cahen does not aim to convey ideas or criticism head-on, rather he seeks to seduce the viewer, merely hinting at potential interpretations, helping him read the invisible.

Curated by Chiara Marchini Camia

DVD box set
In parallel with the exhibition the DVD box set Robert Cahen. Films + videos 1973-2007 will be published by Ecart Production with the cooperation of the ZKM. The box set includes 29 films and videos and six previously unpublished compositions by Robert Cahen, as well as texts by Stéphane Audeguy and Hou Hanru, EUR 40.00 (01/2011).

Guided visits
Guided visits through the exhibition will be held on the following dates: 18 and 25 February, 4 March at 4 p.m.

Conversation and video screening (Language: English)
Robert Cahen will be appearing in conversation with Isaac Julien, Professor at the University of the Arts Karlsruhe, videos by Cahen will be screened on 23 February at 7 p.m. in the ZKM Lecture Hall, admission free.

In conjunction with the exhibition Robert Cahen. Narrating the Invisible the internationally renowned French video artist Robert Cahen will be appearing in conversation with the acclaimed British film-maker Isaac Julien. Isaac Julien, who has also gained recognition for his curatorial work and who is Professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, will lead the conversation and, complementing the exhibition of video installations, he will present a selection of single channel video art works by Robert Cahen.

The two artists, who belong to different generations and whose work springs form different film traditions, manifest suprising parallels in their respective work methods: the exploration of different artistic disciplines including painting, sculpture and dance, the picturisation of poems, the recurrent engagement with stories and images from foreign countries from South America to East Asia.


Robert Cahen »Traverses«, 2002, Filmstill, © Robert Cahen

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