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still from Paradox of Praxis 5 (Francis Alÿs, 2013)
still from Paradox of Praxis 5 (Francis Alÿs, 2013)

Online exhibition

Waiting for the Time to Pass

Francis Alÿs, Cao Guimarães, Isaac Julien, William Kentridge, Quay Brothers, Janis Rafa, Fiona Tan

campaign image Waiting for the Time to Pass

The films are as different as the artists themselves, but they are all situated at the interface between film and visual art, precisely the focus of our exhibition policy.

To celebrate Eye's 75th anniversary this year, we asked seven artists to provide a film work for a digital exhibition. They are all artists with whom we have collaborated over the past ten years in the context of an exhibition.

campaign image Waiting for the Time to Pass

View the digital exhibition from your living room

The programme will be available online from 9 March through 19 March (16.00) on the Eye Film Player. In this week, you can screen the films as often as you’d like.

Paradox of Praxis 5 (Francis Alÿs, 2013, 7’49”)

In many of his films, Francis Alÿs performs seemingly futile tasks in public spaces. For instance, he spends hours pushing a block of melting ice through the streets of Mexico City; he moves a mountain a few centimetres with the help of 500 volunteers, and he scoops water from one lake to another with a bucket. But, according to the artist, the poetical is political. Paradox of Praxis 5 is filmed in Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican city torn apart by violent drug cartels and a corrupt government. Alÿs kicks a burning ball through the dark streets, its flames illuminating the unpaved surfaces and stray dogs, the viaducts and freight trains he passes along the way.

still from Paradox of Praxis 5 (Francis Alÿs, 2013)
still from Paradox of Praxis 5 (Francis Alÿs, 2013)

In 2019 Eye organized the first major solo exhibition by Francis Alÿs in the Netherlands, after he had received the Eye Art & Film Prize the previous year. Alÿs (b. 1959) studied architecture and relocated to Mexico City in 1986, where he developed into a visual artist. He is renowned for the short films he shoots all over the world, often in collaboration with local communities. Alÿs will represent Belgium at the Venice Art Biennale in 2022, and he has also had solo exhibitions at, among others, New York’s MoMA and London’s Tate Modern.

Read more on Francis Alÿs – Children's Games

The Eyeland (Cao Guimarães, 1999, 10’31’’)

In his early film The Eyeland (1999), Brazilian artist Cao Guimarães demonstrated his ability to discover the casual poetry in everyday scenes. The film begins with a text by the nineteenth-century writer Nathaniel Hawthorne on the feeling of estrangement that arises if you’ve been out of your familiar environment for a period. Cao Guimarães was living at the time in London and in his images – shot on super8 film – he not only observes the casual beauty of the city but also connects the timelessness of the moment to the underlying melancholy.

still from The Eyeland (Cao Guimarães, 1999)
still from The Eyeland (Cao Guimarães, 1999)

Eye organized in 2017 a major double exhibition of work by Cao Guimarães and Apichatpong Weerasethakul entitled Locus. Born in 1965 and self-taught, Guimarães has achieved success with works at the intersection of art and film. They have been screened at major film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance and Venice, and exhibited and purchased by such museums as London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Guggenheim Museum. A retrospective of his films was shown at the MoMA in New York.

Read more on Locus: Cao Guimarães - Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989, 46’29’’)

Looking for Langston is an early work by filmmaker and visual artist Isaac Julien. The film is an ode to the American poet and writer Langston Hughes (1901-1967). Hughes was a prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance, an intellectual and artistic movement that emerged in the 1920s around Afro-American artists and writers. Isaac Julien examined the identity of Hughes as a black and gay cultural icon. The film evokes the atmosphere of a Harlem speakeasy, combined with the feel of a 1980s London night club. The texts are taken from works by Hughes and other prominent black writers. The result is a landmark film that celebrates black culture and homosexuality.

still from Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989)
still from Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989)

Isaac Julien (b. 1960) presented Ten Thousand Waves (2010) at Eye in 2012. A large video installation on ten screens, the work connects a tragic accident in which migrant workers from China drowned off the coast of England with a sixteenth-century Chinese fable. Julien began making films in the 1980s and co-founded the Sankofa Film and Video Collective. Dissatisfied with the limitations of the film industry, over the years he has increasingly focused on making experimental film installations. Interdisciplinary collaborations are an integral aspect of his practice, and his films blend poetry, architecture, dance, painting, music, fiction and reality. Julien’s prize-winning work has been extensively exhibited and collected around the world.

Read more on Expanded Cinema

Waiting for the Time to Pass (Janis Rafa, 2021, 4’30’’)

A dog waits in a car. The windows fog up and we hear the creature panting and whining softly – his impatience and restlessness are contagious. The dog is entirely at the mercy of people in escaping from this predicament. Janis Rafa connects this image with early Soviet space flights in which dogs were sent into space as part of experiments. Waiting for the Time to Pass is a new work, made during the corona pandemic, and the association with the limited freedom of movement and uncertainty about the lockdown is clear. In her earlier work, Rafa often commented subtly on the ecological disaster caused by anthropocentrism.

still from Waiting for the Time to Pass (Janis Rafa, 2021)
still from Waiting for the Time to Pass (Janis Rafa, 2021)

Janis Rafa (1984) is a visual artist and filmmaker. Her work featured in Eye’s 2016 exhibition Close-Up: A New Generation of Film and Video Artists in the Netherlands. She was artist in residence at Amsterdam’s Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, and her work has been presented at Paris’ Centre Pompidou, New York’s MoMA and London’s Tate Modern. With her first feature film she won the VEVAM Fund Prize from the Directors Forum and the Prize of the Circle of Dutch Film Journalists.

Read more on Close-Up: A New Generation of Film and Video Artists in the Netherlands

City Deep (William Kentridge, 2020, 9’40’’)

City Deep is the eleventh film from Drawings for Projection, a series of animation films that William Kentridge has been working on since 1989. City Deep is about so-called Zama zamas, illegal mineworkers who scour abandoned mines for remnants of gold. Kentridge mixes the world of the mineworkers with, among others, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, built during the heyday of the gold industry and colonialism.

Drawings for Projection marked Kentridge’s international breakthrough as an engaged artist with a sense of commitment and a concern for developments in his native country. His films illuminate the charged history of South Africa. ‘I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid’, he once stated. ‘But the drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off the brutalized society left in its wake.’

still from City Deep (William Kentridge, 2020)
still from City Deep (William Kentridge, 2020)

The work of William Kentridge (1955) has been the subject of a solo exhibition at Eye on two occasions. If We Ever Get to Heaven was presented in 2015, followed in 2019 by Ten Drawings for Projection, to mark the major donation made by the artist to Eye in 2016. Kentridge is celebrated for his remarkable animation films, charcoal drawings and installations that combine film, sound, music and objects. He is also an opera and theatre director much in demand. For O Sentimental Machine, an installation that Kentridge made for the Istanbul Biennial in 2015, he used film fragments from the Eye collection.

Read more on William Kentridge – Ten Drawings for Projection

Nellie (Fiona Tan, 2013, 3’09’’)

The short film Nellie was inspired by Cornelia van Rijn, the illegitimate daughter of Rembrandt. She emigrated at the age of 16 to Batavia and, as far as we know, she was never painted by her father. Little more is known about her life. Fiona Tan has now finally given her a face. With a minimum of means, Tan suggests a complex story in a short space of time. A central theme in her work is the exoticized Western view of the ‘Far East’, of the colonies. Other recurring features include research into memory, history and archives.

still from Nellie (Fiona Tan, 2013)
still from Nellie (Fiona Tan, 2013)

As early as the first year of its new existence, Eye presented work by Fiona Tan in the exhibition Expanded Cinema (2012), together with work by Isaac Julien and Yang Fudong. Tan’s films have been widely exhibited and collected internationally. She represented the Netherlands at the 53rd Venice Biennale and has recently had solo exhibitions at Cologne’s Museum Ludwig, Frankfurt’s Museum für Moderne Kunst, and Tilburg’s Museum De Pont. A solo exhibition is planned at Eye in 2022.

Read more on Expanded Cinema

Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. (Quay Brothers, 2016; 26’)

This short film is based on the work of the Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernández (1902-1964), viewed by many as the father of magic realism in literature. In Unmistaken Hands, Quay Brothers pay tribute to Hérnandez, fusing together a number of his stories. Eye screened this film once before, in a special presentation at Our Lord in the Attic, a 17th-century clandestine church in Amsterdam. Quay Brothers have a particular interest in unknown and marginal figures from art history. Drawing much of their inspiration from writers and artists from Eastern Europe, they also tap into sources ranging from Gilgamesch and outsider art to Franz Kafka, and from medical instruments to South American literature.

still from Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. (Quay Brothers, 2016)
still from Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. (Quay Brothers, 2016)

Stephen and Timothy Quay, identical twins, were born in Pennsylvania in 1947 and relocated to London in the 1970s. In 2013 Eye was the first museum in Europe to organize an exhibition on their work: Quay Brothers’ Universum. The Quays employ a broad range of techniques, among them cut-out, stop motion, puppet animation, illustration and stage design. The work of Quay Brothers is screened at film festivals all over the world. They also frequently collaborate with composers and opera directors. In 2016, for example, they designed the set for the opera The Theatre of the World by Louis Andriessen, directed by Pierre Audi.

Read more on Quay Brothers’ Universum

Looking for previous exhibitions?

Browse the archive via the link.

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