The Film & Video program of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao lays a special focus on artistic practices related to the moving image, experimental film, and video installation.
Michael Snow (b. 1928, Toronto) is unanimously regarded as one of the key figures in the development of experimental cinema since the 1960s. Also a painter, photographer, sculptor, and musician, Snow’s work reflects his multifaceted spirit and his fundamental interest in the mechanics of perception and its paradoxes. As he once put it: “My paintings are made by a film-maker, my sculptures are made by a musician, my films by a painter (…), and sometimes they all work together.” Fascinated by the world’s visual representation systems, Snow understands film as a form of sculpting with light and time, while at the same time he devises objects that will monopolize, deflect, or block the observer’s view. He thus manages to reveal not only the materials of the artwork, but also its ability to create specific circuits of attention.
Connecting four pieces from various periods of his production, the exhibition Closed Circuit ranges across various formats where the image is radically dissociated from film support. Sight (1968) diagonally limits and restricts the view from the window where it is installed, creating a forced synthesis between what is framed and what is framing it. In this unusual arrangement, perspective disappears. Site (1969/2016), whose title is deliberately homophonous with the previous work, replaces the image with the word and the place evoked with an abstract object, vaguely familiar in its design. The reference is lost in the exchange, while the sculpture affirms itself as presence and absence. Near these two works, two video devices explore other links between image, sculpture, and place. The Corner of Braque and Picasso Streets (2009) projects a view of the exterior of the Museum in real time onto a screen constructed out of pedestals from other exhibitions, giving rise to an ephemeral and Cubist form of cinema. By using another closed circuit, Observer (1974) meanwhile invites viewers to see themselves from an atypical angle that reduces their bodies to a vertiginous two-dimensionality.