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Jean-Claude Taki in residence at the Espace Khiasma

Phantom - mercredi 23 janvier 2013

THE ISLE OF THE DEAD

Notes by Olivier Marboeuf, on the cinema of Jean-Claude Taki

June 2012

The cinema of Jean-Claude Taki is a cinema of research. This is not said as a way of classifying it in a certain register, but so as to state its intention: to set off on the search for a lost (or extinct) image. And this elusive image is nothing more than a horizon. For the question is not to find it, but to follow its trail, to trace a path, to embark on a journey, an experience. Taki’s films often open with the pretext of an investigation. Like a hare in a long distance race, the investigation only serves to establish the rhythm, the pace of the narrative. We quickly understand that it will soon leave the race track and allow the film—and the artist—to continue alone. It is an exile. The film has no need for the illusion of an end, it doesn’t need to go anywhere. Unless it is to row towards the Isle of the Dead as others, in the past, crossed a bridge to meet ghosts. It is a definitive program for a cinema of another time. If Taki relentlessly searches for the trace of a phantom, it is probably the ghost of the cinema that allows us to see—by the absence that exists between images, to think by means of disappearance.image taki

To speak of this universe in a different way, we could linger on the fact that he oftens uses a cell phone to film his works. But it is not done in an attempt to use novel technological devices or as a sort of signature, but as a way to shed light on the manner in which the filmmaker amplifies elements already characteristic to his work for a great while. This radically simple gesture reveals what the artist is distancing himself from: the cinema as collective product, as factory, as industry, with its postures, planning, organization and social norms. To this “theater”, he opposes a cinema of necessity. We immediately think of Godard and his hermetic cruises, to those film shoots where solitude is the only set and beauty a final combat with no army. Taki also chooses the solitary journey and, like his elder, inscribes his art under the sign of the incestuous relation cinema maintains with literature.

He sets off to find his double, to walk in his own footsteps, tracking his ghost towards the East, the vague figure of a writer filling a journal pocked with holes.

The cell phone gives him images full of doubt, smaller than the world and less sure than dreams, freed of the weight of grand narratives, of the project of cinematographic illusion.

In fine brush strokes, Taki nevertheless paints a world. Slowly, this amalgam of intimate images that caress the skin, the intoxications and tragedies of singular destinies, these stories seemingly linked by nothing, cede their place for a view of the whole, and we discover the vast landscape of disappearance that the artist explores, film after film.

Like an echo to the fragmented hints—enigmatic journals and narratives—left behind by the missing in his films, the cinema of Jean-Claude Taki is full of these vacant spaces that are also waiting spaces—and perhaps the condition of a rediscovered memory. We know that the mystery will never be resolved ; it is constantly in practice, indefatigably so. The lost image will never be found, because it is only a space for projection. And the beauty of this cinema can be resumed in the constantly renewed attempt to give form to this absence.

 

 

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