Monday, January 27, 2014

Jean-Luc Godard's Histoires du Cinema

Last week, at Hibbleton Gallery's Jean-Luc Godard Retrostpective (curated by Steve Elkins), we screened excerpts from Godard's epic masterpiece Histoires du Cinema.  The whole thing is over 5 hours long, and we watched about 2 hours worth.  The film is a collage of images, sounds, and text that evokes a kind of stream-of-consciousness meditation on the history of cinema.  Godard, who has been prolifically making films for the past seven decades, is an encyclopedia of not just film knowledge, but of literature, art, music, and history.  The film is almost never screened in the United States, so we were privileged to see it on the big screen.  During the film, artist Michael Magoski (of the Magoski Arts Colony and Violethour Studio) took still photographs, which are hauntingly beautiful and poetic, and evoke the beauty and ideas of Godard's epic film.  Here are Michael's photographs of Godard's film.  At the end, I put all the captions together, like a poem.

And here is the poem of the images.  I call it "Godard/Magoski":

To feel everything
such intensity
Our only mistake was to think it was a beginning.
the fourth wall of the house of the world,
on a par with primary truths
I don't know
Just music and painting,
which can be lived but not really talked about.
Life, a beginning of life,
like Euclid's parallel lines,
for students and Earth dwellers in general
and spectators in particular.

All is eclipsed,
and so it happens that the only big problem in cinema
not symbolic or simulated
to become the greatest of assents
when we utter the word "man"
That is most precious
Sorrow of revolution
Our hands slide and separate
But at last the sun shines again.

Citizen Kane is not an example for us to follow.
a manifestation of life finishes growing old
We had nothing but book to put into book
No activity can become an art
until its proper epoch has ended.
Then this art will disappear.

Men and women believed in prophets.
Now we believe in statesmen.
to embrace before us the totality of the world
this totality of the universe.
But beside it dwells nothingness
is also the gaze of nothingness upon us.
The image is light.

Nothingness, immensely heavy,
run by a rotating crew of the same incompetents.

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