ANOTHER TIME brings together three films that have not previously been linked: Taiwanese artist Chen Chieh-jen’s Factory (2003), American filmmaker Peter Hutton’s At Sea (2004-2007), and British artist Tacita Dean’s Kodak (2006). Though the films are shot in real time, their pace seems out of sync with the accelerated speed at which we usually encounter moving images. In all three works, the passing of time takes on a physical presence achieved through very still images, long takes and, in the case of At Sea and Factory, the absence of sound. Each film suggests the possibility of a different experience of the present, a time other than that dominating contemporary life. Through shared poetic sensibility, these works register a loss that is connected to the passage of time and to notions of technological advance and progress. The industries on which these films center—a Taiwanese textile factory, a 16mm film factory in France, and the global seafaring industry—are symbols of the past as it bears on the present. In all three films, the “on-the-clock” time of labor is countered by a rhythm of images that offer a contemplative experience.
Collectively, the works resist the impulse to rush, survey and move on, suggesting instead the possibility of an aesthetic experience, which takes place in another temporal register. It is through their ability to immerse the viewer that these films effectively communicate the personal and collective loss of a cultural commitment to progress. The films encourage reflection on the passage of time, the time of being and of history, and on capitalism’s disregard for such qualities of time.
Chieh-jen’s Factory focuses on a group of female Taiwanese textile workers who lost their jobs in the mid 1990s when the manufacturing industry migrated to countries with lower production costs. The artist draws attention to the consequences of a globalized economy on local workers. By highlighting the dignity and individuality of the workers, Factory counters the processes of dematerialization and abstraction that characterize a capitalist economy. Chieh-jen creates a visual metaphor for the stoppage of production and of time through close-ups of the women’s faces and hands and through monumentalized shots of their static bodies. Fusing the “presentness” of his own footage with the past evoked by archival footage, Chieh-jen points to the oversights of official history and its collusion with capitalism’s unrelenting movement toward greater profitability, whether through technological advancement or the perpetual search for cheaper labor.
Peter Hutton’s film, At Sea, is a document of maritime culture and of a particular way of seeing and being in the world. Structured around the life of a ship, its birth, journey and death, each of the film’s three sections is a meditation on the place it depicts: a Korean shipbuilding yard, the sea seen from a cargo ship en route across the Atlantic, and a ship-breaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The film unfolds slowly and quietly, almost like a series of still-images, allowing the viewer time to reflect on the individual image. The distance Hutton maintains from human subjects in the Korean shipyard creates the sense of an unpopulated world, a feeling reinforced in the film’s middle section shot at sea. As the film progresses, the viewer embarks on a journey with the image in which time seems to be visibly passing. In the final scenes of the film, Hutton deliberately collapses the distance between the camera and the curious workers in the ship-breaking yard in Bangladesh. The sudden unnerving proximity of the camera to the workers draws the viewer’s attention to the global economic conditions and the poverty that has made this industry possible. As the film’s critical underpinnings surface, the viewer is encouraged to contemplate the fine line between the critical potential of a lyrical aesthetic expression and the risk of aestheticizing the labor on which At Sea centers.
Tacita Dean’s Kodak pays homage to celluloid film, which, as digital formats proliferate, has become largely discontinued. Dean gained access to a Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône, France only weeks before it closed. Throughout Kodak, Dean’s footage oscillates between documentary-style images of workers attending to the factory’s operations and abstracted images of the celluloid production and factory space. Workers cut, wrap and transport celluloid in the yellow- and red-hued factory interior that feels, paradoxically, both futuristic and dated. Kodak illustrates celluloid’s ability to produce “a near perfect simulacrum of our visual world” in a series of stunning images that reflect elusiveness through both the subject and medium of film. In a symbolic moment, the camera captures a digital clock ticking towards obsolescence. Paradoxically it measures not only the production that is “on-the-clock,” but also references the new, digital technology that has precipitated the factory’s demise.
Born in Canterbury, Kent in 1965. Lives and works in Berlin. Tacita Dean received her Masters of Fine Art from The Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1992. She works in a variety of media but is perhaps best known for her 16mm films. Since the late 1990s she has had numerous significant solo exhibitions, including at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (1997); ICA, Philadelphia (1998); Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2000); MACBA, Barcelona (2001); Tate Britain, London (2001), Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu, Japan (2006) and more recently at the Schaulager, Basel (2007) and Miami Art Central, Florida (2007). In 1999, she was the Artist in Residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, and following received a DAAD Scholarship in Berlin for 2000-2001. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998 and received the Hugo Boss Award in 2006.
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1944. Lives and works in Annandale-on-Hudson. Peter Hutton is the Director of the Film and Electronic Arts Program and Professor of Film at Bard College, where he has taught since 1984. He received both his B.F.A. (1969) and M.F.A. (1971) from San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied painting and sculpture. Since the 1970s, he has produced more than twenty films, most of which are portraits of cities and landscapes around the world. His films have been shown at Berlin, Rotterdam, Montreal, Toronto and New York film festivals and at exhibition venues such as Red Cat, Los Angeles; Tate Modern, London; the Whitney Museum, New York; The Walker Art Center, Ohio and ZKM, Karlsruhe. Hutton is the recipient of numerous grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, DAAD Berlin, Rockefeller Foundation, Dutch Film Critics Prize, and the Guggenheim among others. A retrospective of Hutton’s oeuvre will open this spring at MoMA, New York.
Born in 1960, Taoyuan, Taiwan. Lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. Growing up under Martial Law in Taiwan (instated until1987), Chieh-jen received no formal art training. His work is concerned with historical and social conditions of marginal areas in a globalized world. In 2002, he began making films, which he has exhibited both at film festivals and international biennials such as the Sao Paulo Biennial (1998), the Biennale de Lyon (2000), the Taipei Biennial (1998, 2002, 2004), the Shanghai Biennial (2004), the Fukuoka Triennial (2005), the Liverpool Biennial (2006), the Sydney Biennial (2006), the Istanbul Biennial (2007), and the Venice Biennale (1999, 2005). In 2000, he was awarded The Special Prize in the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. In 2007, he had a major solo exhibition at Asia Society, New York (2007). Most recently his work has been exhibited at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MICASA) in Madrid (2008).
Another Time was organized by Milena Hoegsberg as part of the requirements for the master of arts degree in curatorial studies.
CCS Bard student-curated exhibitions are made possible with support from the Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg Student Exhibition Fund, Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg, and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies. Additional support is provided by the Monique Beudert Award Fund.