Under the Influence of Kubrick

The American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) is a leading figure of cinema in the last decades of the twentieth century. His monumental body of work continues therefore to influence new filmmakers and visual artists in film and contemporary art. Films such as “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), “The Shining” (1980), “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999) are essential works in cinematic art and narrative experimentation. For this very reason, Kubrick used and experimented genre cinema at length: horror, science fiction, historical film or even melodrama. His meticulous methods (of which the most extreme example is the exhaustive repetition of takes) and ability to invent new cinematic methods (let us recall, for example, the lenses that were used in “Barry Lyndon”, 1975) make him, in fact, one of the most important authors in film history.

“2012 A Kubrick Odyssey” is therefore a celebration of the filmmaker’s genius and extent of his influence. The most important moment of this tribute is centred on an exhibition at Solar – Cinematic Art Gallery and Centro de Memória, which includes works by filmmakers and visual artists who have been influenced by the philosophical and cinematic importance of Stanley Kubrick. Therefore, works by Graham Gussin, Johan Thurfjell, Nicolas Provost, Sheena Macrae and by the Portuguese Pedro Tudela, Miguel Soares, Alexandre Estrela, João Tabarra and João Onofre will be exhibited.

The central concept of the exhibition arises from an urge, felt by the festival’s programming team, to praise and pay homage to the filmmaker, a little like the huge success of another of these experiences: the exhibition “Under Hitchcock” whose premisses were, precisely, to understand the influence of the English master in contemporary culture.

The works that make up this exhibition, mostly produced in the 21st century, demonstrate a great variety of approaches to Kubrick’s work and also enter into dialogue with the works by the authors themselves. Furthermore, these works result from a fascination with some of Kubrick’s most popular films, mainly “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Shining”, as well as with the kindness revealed by the filmmaker’s austere humanism. Some of the most striking scenes in these films are therefore appropriated or re-staged to enter into dialogue with the works by the artists and to relate to the space within the museum where they will be exhibited.

For example, in the case of Alexandre Estrela, the Portuguese artist enters into dialogue with the concept of monolith present in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the way in which that monolith represents the black screen in Kubrick’s film. That is the re-staging proposed by the Portuguese artist. It is also within that context that João Tabarra’s work emerges, filming again the famous scene of the bone thrown by the monkeys in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In this case, the bone does not make the match cut with the spacecraft as it does in the film. On the contrary, it is crushed by a cold shot in a realist demonstration proportionally opposed to the sidereal dance in Kubrick’s film. João Onofre also uses “2001” for his piece, this time using one of the film’s space scenes, but placing it in a mirror, in a sculpture-like solution (this is a piece already dating from 1999). Finally, Graham Gussin also uses Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece, exhibiting two monitors that begin synchronised but with different durations, allowing a dialogue between narrative past and future.

Pedro Tudela chooses a relationship with the film “Eyes Wide Shut”, creating a sculpture-like piece that recovers the characteristic sound of the film (and of the scene where the meeting with the secret society unfolds), associating it with a mask. Therefore, it is a reflection on identity and power that Kubrick’s film also draws. Sheena Macrae’s piece is more radical, manipulating “2001: A Space Odyssey” in a way that renders it imperceptible. The sculptural form created (through mirrors) shows abstract moving images full of movement and colour, typical of Kubrick’s futuristic fantasy.

The film by Nicolas Provost “Induction” is perfectly integrated in the logic of his work, i.e. in the way in which he creates situations (in this case filmed by Provost himself) to rethink gender issues. The main reference of this film is, of course, “The Shining” and the emotions associated with horror (fear or suspense, for example). One of the essential features is therefore the creation of the soundtrack.

Completing the exhibition is a work by Thrufjell – “Do You Have the Shine” in which the author creates a videogame and an associated film from the geography of the hotel in “The Shining”; and two pieces by Miguel Soares – “Space Junk Beta 0.1” and “Time Zones”: both are 3D animations in which the author deals with Kubrickian references (for example, “2001: A Space Odyssey” but also “Dr. Strangelove”).

Accompanying this Exhibition, there will be a parallel programme screening some of Kubrick’s most popular films, such as “The Shining” or “A Clockwork Orange” and a less well-known one: “The Killing”. Another of the highlights of “2012 A Kubrick Odyssey” will be the screening of the documentary “Stanley Kubrick – A Life in Pictures” (2001), in the presence of its director, Jan Harlan. Harlan, who followed Kubrick’s life closely, was executive producer of several of his films and accompanied the preparation of the epic “Napoleon”, a project that unfortunately never came to fruition. During his visit to Vila do Conde, Harlan will still give a masterclass on Kubrick’s work.

Finally, the curious documentary “Room 237” by Rodney Ascher will be screened, analysing different, more or less obscure interpretations of “The Shining”. These secrets now revealed made a splash at the last Cannes festival and were also screened at Sundance. They thus prove that Kubrick’s work will not fade in the future.

© 2017 Curtas Vila do Conde