From 28 September to 30 November 2014, EYE presented the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands by British artist Anthony McCall. Since the 1970s McCall has produced a remarkable body of work that includes drawings, performances and—most importantly for this exhibition—his large-scale light-projection installations, so-called ‘solid light films’. McCall's sculptural light projections are at once minimalist in form and magical in effect, theoretical in essence and visceral when experienced. His moving light sculptures are in a permanent state of flux, consistently refusing to be classified by the confined categories of art history such as ‘sculpture’ and ‘film’.
EYE's exhibition program seeks out areas of overlap between film and other art forms. EYE takes a special interest in the medium of film as an art form that is not necessarily confined to screenings in cinema auditoriums, but that also explores uncharted territories, pushing the envelope and setting out to exploit the scope afforded by the three-dimensional exhibition space.
McCall's multi-layered and interdisciplinary work challenges, exceeds and re-defines traditional divisions between ‘art’ and ‘cinema’; an achievement that resonates with EYE's curatorial vision.
solid light films
McCall's first solid light film, Line Describing a Cone (1973), consists of a 16mm projector and a roll of film. McCall treated the role of film with a simple animation technique in such a way that a single white dot on the screen gradually grows into a full circle. When projected in an open gallery space filled with a thin mist in the air the light beam of the projector becomes sculptural.
With his solid light films McCall set out to examine the foundations of film offering a critique of the commercial cinema industry, its manipulation of time and space, its use of narrative, montage and suture and its problematic relationship to the viewer. McCall turns cinema's raison d'être on its head and draws the viewer's attention away from the projected image towards the projection beam itself. By presenting his work in a museum setting, McCall also challenges the visitor to relate physically to the moving light sculptures. The artistic context of the 1960s and early 1970s—the blossoming film co-op culture, expanded cinema, performance art, minimal art, structural film and conceptual art—provides the rich, multidisciplinary background against which to read McCall's projections.
In the late 1970s McCall moved away from art. After a 20-year break, he resumed his career with a renewed sense of urgency and presented Line Describing a Cone at the landmark exhibition Into the Light at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2001. New digital design software, high-quality video projectors and improved technical conditions offered McCall new possibilities to revisit and expand on his works from the 1970s.
In 2003 McCall made his first digital solid light film Doubling Back. It consists of two wave-shaped projections that slowly overlap each other.
about the exhibition
In the first part of Anthony McCall: Solid Light Films and Other Works (1971–2014) a selection of McCall's drawings, photographs, documentation of his early performances, maquettes and pages from his notebooks offered an introduction to the "roots" of the solid light films.
The second part traced the gradual development from his solid light films from Line Describing a Cone (1973) and Four Projected Movements (1975) to the more recent digital installations Doubling Back (2003) and Face to Face II (2013), McCall's first large scale installation using floating, double-sided screens. Finally, the exhibition also presented Traveling Wave (1972/2013). This work holds a unique position in McCall's oeuvre as it is purely sound-based.
The exhibition is curated by Jaap Guldemond (EYE’s Director of Exhibitions), in cooperation with Dr. Maxa Zoller, experimental film critic and freelance curator.
Curators: Jaap Guldemond, Maxa Zoller
Associate Curator: Marente Bloemheuvel
Project Management: Claartje Opdam, Sanne Baar
Graphic Design: Joseph Plateau
Technical Production: Indyvideo
Installation: Landstra & De Vries
The exhibition was accompanied by the publication Anthony McCall - Face to Face. This book contains an introduction by Jaap Guldemond, an interview with the artist by co-curator Maxa Zoller, and an essay by art historian Luke Smythe and McCall’s reflections on his own work. These texts are accompanied by an extensive selection of reproductions showing McCall’s large-scale light projections and works on paper. The result is rich and nuanced impression of McCall’s fascinating oeuvre.
Published by EYE in collaboration with nai010 publishers. €19,50.
films, talks, events
The exhibition was framed by a film programme around three themes: Here, Now and The body.
From A to Z