The Film & Video exhibitions program at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is permanently committed to artistic practices associated with the moving image in the context of contemporary visual arts.
The work of artist and filmmaker Alex Reynolds (b. 1978, Bilbao) constantly explores our modes of relation and affection as they appear embodied in the cinematic language. Altering narrative structures, commands and rhythms in production, playing with the conventions of acting and storytelling as well as the role of the viewer, the artist defies our perception beyond the perimeter of the screen and the realm of images. Thus she transforms objects and events in the exhibition space as well, suspending the automatisms of meaning.
This exhibition presents three recent works by Reynolds, between which a triangulation of ideas – the norm, the acting hand, the singing voice – circulates ceaselessly. The film Palais, shot in Brussels inside the imposing architecture of the Palace of Justice, presents a silent walkthrough of the labyrinthine administrative facilities of a 19th-century building. Intimations of curiosity, humorous mischief, and uncanny trepidation seem to overlap as we follow the camera through a monumental space marked by imperial iconography. At the other side of the anteroom, a tuning fork is presented and surreptitiously vibrates through the air. Traditionally used for fine-tuning musical instruments, this object has been custom-made to portray the exact voice pitch of a person known to the artist, and after whose name – Justine – the piece is titled.
On view in the main gallery is Reynolds’s most recent film work, made in collaboration with Swedish choreographer Alma Söderberg. Co-produced by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, The Hand that Sings builds a web of connecting gestures, voicings, and images in time. These elements mimic each other following an open associative sequence: from the extraction of oak bark in Extremadura during the yearly cork harvest, to the peeling of an orange before a handheld fire or the act of washing someone’s hand; from the tremor of leaves to that of a voice, to a bird’s flapping wings in the distance or, again, the feedback loop between the performer’s chant and hand movements. Words in Spanish and English are traded over a rooftop as we get a glimpse of the Palace of Justice in the Brussels skyline. Sensorial resistance to fixity and hierarchy, focus on transformation with all senses engaged in the process, are key aspects to this new work. Both free-form and minutely composed, The Hand that Sings proposes a lyrical interplay of correspondences where bodies, landscape, and the camera jointly perform, attuned to one another.
Curator: Manuel Cirauqui
Alex Reynolds & Alma Söderberg
The Hand that Sings (La mano que canta), 2021
HD Video, color, sound (production image)
Courtesy of the artists and Marta Cervera Gallery
© Alex Reynolds and Alma Söderberg