The last beautiful pleasure.
Manon de Boer
29 April - 24 June 2017
1301PE is pleased to announce The last beautiful pleasure., an exhibition on the occasion of twenty-five years of 1301PE. Exploring themes of duration, beauty and pleasure vis-à-vis the act of smoking and the notion of portraiture, the exhibition will feature Manon de Boer's Sylvia, March 1 and March 2, 2001, Hollywood Hills (2001-2005) and Tacita Dean's Portraits (2016). This will be the first time these works will be exhibited in Los Angeles,
Over the past years, both Tacita Dean and Manon de Boer have made film portraits of friends, actors and actresses, writers, dancers. With a nod to Andy Warhol's infamous screen tests from the 1960s, these psychological portraits are situated at the intersection of the still and moving image and typically show the subject doing something other than their profession. The two works exhibited at 1301PE present the viewer with filmic portraits of the artist David Hockney and actress Sylvia Kristel, respectively, smoking, thinking and looking without an immediate given objective - seemingly unaware of the camera.
Tacita Dean's Portraits (2016) is a 16 mm color film observing David Hockney as he smokes and thinks, surrounded by portraits in the making in his Los Angeles studio. "He's thinking about his paintings", Dean explains, "He paints, sits down, has a cigarette and figures out what to do next.' Smoking is instinctual to Hockney and is embedded in his process – to remove it would be to impair the long-achieved and finely balanced quality of his concentration. The resulting 16-minute film is composed of five sequence shots, each of which corresponds to the five cigarettes Hockney smokes – giving rise to a multiple portrait-ness that is heightened by the surrounding portrait paintings.
Manon de Boer's Sylvia, March 1 and March 2, 2001, Hollywood Hills (2001-2005) consists of two silent 16 mm loops, shot on Super-8 films, in each of which the French actress Sylvia Kristel is filmed on two successive days in the Hollywood Hills. The now late Kristel, widely known for playing the role of Emmanuelle in the eponymous 1970s erotic movie, is here shown in close up while she slowly lights a cigarette. While Dean's portrait of David Hockney explores the preconditions for creativity as embodied in the act of smoking=thinking, de Boer's charged portrait of Sylvia evokes the archetype of the femme fatale whereby smoking is associated both with sexual pleasure as well strength and independence.
Taken together, Dean's and de Boer's time-based portraits provide a point of departure to think further about smoking as an metaphor for duration and pleasure. As Hockney points out, "It used to be you couldn't be gay. Now you can be gay but can't smoke." Ever since the advent of industrialization in the early 19th century, cigarettes have come to signify the antidote to the frenetic pace of modern day life – punctuating the monotony of work, acting like a clock that determines the length of a break. Similarly, art has become a type of substitute religion, with galleries and museums acting as sites of ritual. Both smoking and art offer respite and a sense of community, yet are toxic in their own ways. In our disconnected, on-demand society of distraction, these are perhaps nevertheless the 'last beautiful pleasures' that remain.
Tacita Dean (born 1965 in Canterbury, UK) is a British artist primarily working in film. She recently had an acclaimed major solo exhibition at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City (2016-17), which follows exhibitions at amongst others the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah (2014); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Arcadia University Art Gallery, Pennsylvania (2013), Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro; Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna (all 2013), documenta (13), Kassel; New Museum, New York; Norton Museum, West Palm Beach (all 2012); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig – MUMOK, Vienna (2011) and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia/Abadia de Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain (2010). Dean has been the recipient of various awards including the Kurt Schwitters Prize in 2009, and the Hugo Boss Prize in 2006. In 2011, she was selected for the prestigious Tate Modern Uniliver commission in London. In 2014 she became artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute. She is a founding member of savefilm.org and is vigorously campaigning to save the medium of film.
Manon de Boer (born 1966 in Kodaicanal, India) completed her artistic education at the Akademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Rotterdam, and at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Using personal narration and musical interpretation as both method and subject, de Boer explores the relationship between language, time, and truth claims to produce a series of portrait films in which the film medium itself is continuously interrogated. Her work has been exhibited internationally, at the Venice Biennial (2007), Berlin Biennial (2008), Sao Paolo Biennial (2010), Documenta (2012) and has also been included in numerous film festivals in Hong Kong, Marseille, Rotterdam and Vienna. Her work has been the subject of monographic exhibitions at Witte de With in Rotterdam (2008), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2008), London South Gallery (2010), Index in Stockholm (2011), Contemporary Art Museum of St Louis (2011), Museum of Art Philadelphia (2012) and Van Abbe (2013), among others.