I said I love. That is the promise.
The tvideo politics of Jean-Luc Godard
September 9 to October 16, 1999
Swiss Institute 495 Broadway, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10012
I said I love. That is the promise.
The tvideo politics of Jean-Luc Godard
Curated by Gareth James, Annette Schindler,
installation in collaboration with Florian Zeyfang
Opening Thursday, September 9, 6-8 pm
Curators tour, Saturday, September 11, 3 pm
Monsieur Jean: Is something wrong?
Young man: These secretaries are all bitches.
They've- forgotten the main thing.
Monsieur Jean: Really?
Young man: Yes, all the films you've never made.
The Jean-Luc Godard introduction typically runs along lines such as these: a founder of the French New Wave cinema, and one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of the moving image, Godard has created, in the course of 77 and more films, the most beautiful, innovative, confounding and stimulating cinema culture. I said I love. That is the promise. is a survey of the video and television work of Jean-Luc Godard, spanning the period from his first broadcast commission, Le Gai Savoir, 1968, to the present day, and a moment in which to consider matters such as love, promises, and unmade films.
Amongst the many important but rarely seen productions on display, will be the groundbreaking Numéro Deux; the two major TV series of the 70s produced with Anne-Marie Miéville, Six fois deux: Sur et sous la communication, and France/tour/détour/deux/enfants; extraordinarily frank and often humorous short video revisions of his 35mm cinematic releases such as Scénario du film Passion, 1982; and the moving and enigmatic self-portrait, JLG/JLG Autoportrait de décembre, 1994, from which the title of this exhibition, and the exchange quoted above are taken.
In a multiple-monitor installation which will make work constantly available throughout the duration of the exhibition to enable spectators to connect the diversity of Godard's tvideo work as well as linger comfortably over individual pieces, I said I love will be the first exhibition of Godards work to consider the mutual reciprocation between Godard and contemporaneous art practices. In October, I said I love will host a series of lectures, by renowned writers; Kaja Silverman, Manthia Diawara, and artist and theorist Dave Beech, who will be speaking about such aspects of Godard's practice as the importance of the conversation, revolution, utopia, realism, beauty and misbehavior in Godard's work.
It is to the lowly forms of television and video that Godard turns again and again, much to the vexation of the cinéaste, in order to exceed the confines of his gilded position in the canon of cinematic genius. Godard himself has often expressed his preference for 10 dollars financing for his next project over a well turned celebratory phrase, and I said I love. will show how from its beginning, Godard's work with tvideo owes a great deal to such obdurate pragmatism. Yet Godards pragmatism has a speculatively existential and aesthetically motivated face that describes a kind of wondrous luxury in the relatively inexpensive world of video.
I said I love proposes that in his crucial encounter with tvideo, Godard forced a series of re-articulations of the aesthetic, political, and gendered understanding of images and sounds. Godards tvideo work begins with a promise made during his period of collaborative film-making with the Groupe Dziga Vertov: the unity of film and politics. Ushering in the consequent period of intense collaboration with Anne-Marie Miéville in the Sonimage workshop, was a film using material originally shot for the last and unfinished Groupe Dziga Vertov project, Jusqu à la victoire. As Sonimage set about discovering how to make this unmade politifilm, Until Victory became Here and Elsewhere, acknowledging changing political realities, and the stubborn reality of the division between film and politics. The Sonimage collaborators realized that the promise could not be fulfilled before representations of political subjectivity acknowledged how class identity was divided along gendered and post colonial faultlines. Today, while Godard still works intermittently with Miéville, a film of such political confidence as Ici et ailleurs seems impossible. Subjectivity itself, immanently divided, seems more the order of the day. Even the direct address to the Bosnian war in Forever Mozart 1997, is far from the promise of unity - Elsewhere.
Godards tvideo work is burnt by the unmade revolution. How the promise is kept alive today is a more complex affair. I said I love describes three distinct articulations of his ongoing negotiation with tvideo: the anticipatory potential of video technology and the broadcast image; a utopian-reformist participation in their development; and a post-reformist implosion of the utopic drive. Yet these articulations do not precisely supersede each other chronologically, but remain inexorably imbedded in each other. As far back as 1976, French philosopher Gilles Deleuze argued that Godard's politics of film did not offer a binary truth of either/or, but a politics of enacting the conjunction of things in the world, the politics of "and": a factory AND a landscape, AND a woman's body, AND a mother's labor, AND an unmade film.
Godard has frequently urged caution in the simplistic attribution of views expressed by characters in his movies, to their author, and has equally warned against looking for facts in JLG/JLG, a self-portrait, not than a biography. But if we were to look for some of those unmade films, where would we begin? Our suspicion is that some of them are hiding where we would least expect them - in those films that were produced. The tvideo work of Jean-Luc Godard is crowded with the ghosts of films, his own and others', made and unmade, unmade means of financing films, unmade means of seeing them, made and unmade links between different arts and fields of knowledge, things omitted, things without names.
I said I love. That is the promise. will not be a purist's or specialist's exhibition. It will be a tracing of the conjunctions of Godard's practice, both cautious and foolhardy in spirit, an exhibition that sets out along with his tvideo work, on the path of the films he never made, and their vocabulary. If Godard invents the first word every time, even if it no longer always makes sense once he's finished with it, we will have to trust ourselves, to do as he does, not as he says.
LECTURES AND DISCUSSIONS
Monday October 4, 1999, at 6:30 pm
In the early 70s the newly installed revolutionary Marxist government of Mozambique commissioned Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville to advise on the start-up of an entire TV infrastructure from scratch. Dr. Manthia Diawara will discuss the history of this ambitious utopia, and how its ultimate failure impacted both Godard's work, and conceptions of radicalized TV in Africa and Western society. Dr. Manthia Diawara is the Director of Africana Studies and the Institute of African American Affairs at New York University, where he is also Professor of Comparative Literature and Film.
Tuesday October 5, 1999, at 6:30 pm
Dave Beech will discuss how the conventional separation of mass cultural pleasures and elevated high-cultural seriousness is a crucial agent in Godard's turn to tvideo, as well as forming a ground for understanding the mutual reciprocation between Godard and contemporary art practices. This relation will be considered in the context of his highly provocative recent reevaluation of philistinism. Dave Beech is an artist, critic and curator based in London.
Thursday October 7, 1999, 6:30 pm
Kaja Silverman will be presenting new research on Godard's filmic self-portrait, JLG/JLG, as well as discussing Speaking About Godard, perhaps the most subtle book about Godard's films, consisting of a series of conversations between Silverman and Harun Farocki, one of the most outspokenly political filmmakers of our time. Speaking About Godard, directly relates to the significance of the conversational form in Godard's work. Kaja Silverman is Chancellor's Professor of Rhetoric and Film at the University of California at Berkeley.
New York-based British artist, Gareth James, and Florian Zeyfang, Berlin-based German artist, are two of the most interesting young artists working in the spirit of Godards antagonistic relationship to the rules of culture, and committed to a critical understanding of art that exceeds purely visual discourse. In a pragmatic crossing of institutionalized professions, James, Zeyfang, and curator Annette Schindler, have developed a collaborative installation allowing Godards tvideos to be constantly available throughout the duration of the exhibition. Consisting of an overabundance of chairs, enigmatic quotes, and multiple monitors, headphones and remote controls, the installation transform the gallery into a Godardian scenario. Eschewing the inconvenience of the conventional format of a program of screenings, the installation will enable the spectator to make connections between the diversity of approaches, as well as linger comfortably over individual pieces.