Thursday, 20 May 2010

Over Your City Grass Will Grow

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow - Sophie Fiennes film of Anselm Kiefer's studio estate - seen here

This interview with filmaker Sophie Fiennes about Anselm Kiefer's extraordinary project in La Ribaute, south of France was on The Guardian website this morning. Shown this year at Cannes, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, is a documentary film about the artist's work and processes in the labyrinthine structure he has created in an abandoned silk factory he took over in the early 1990's. The project has now reached a halt, Kiefer has moved away from the site to Paris leaving it, for now to the elements.

I was torn as I watched the interview. The opportunity, as an artist to spend 10 or so years obsessively building a space, a monument like this is immensely beguiling. In his review of the film also in The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw quotes from Heidegger's essay on boredom "It is only when one is bored, that one's consciousness settles, reluctantly or even fearfully, on oneself and the nature of one's own existence." seen here. There is a monstrous aspect to that idea alongside the glory of such project. It parodies the Nazi ideologies that Kiefer has spent much of his artistic career addressing, it embodies the horror of human endeavour alongside the pure inventiveness and obsession that drives us.

I like the idea of a woman making this documentary, in fact it seems almost imperative. Kiefer's structure is arguably a masculine adventure. She brings her gaze to bear upon it, initially as a kind of servant to its brilliance, but ultimately, as she says in the interview, she casts aside that subservience to the artist and his creation in the edit and brings her own ego to bear upon the finished film. Therein lies another layer of horror and irony, which Fiennes highlights, that of Leni Riefenstahl and Triumph des Willens, her documentary film of the 1934 Nuremburg congress of the Nazi party.

Anselm Kiefer and Sophie Fiennes - seen here

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