Reverberance 1

23 March, 2012 - 11:00
KASKCINEMA
“Robert Gardner’s camera scans with precision and feels with sympathy – the objectivity of an anthropologist, the fraternity of a poet.” (Octavio Paz)

 

“It is apparent that only a certain kind of person will want to make ethnographic films”, is how Robert Gardner (1925) situated his own practice. “It will, above all, be those who sense the profound affinity that exists between the film medium and a desire to understand people.” As often scorned by scholars as applauded by the avant-garde, the work of Robert Gardner is of undeniable influence in the field of visual anthropology. As legendary fimmaker Stan Brakhage, a fervent defender, once put it, the question of whether Gardner is “An Artist, an Anthropologist, or WHAT?” is “SUCH a boring question once one has fully experienced his films.” It was while studying anthropology in the 1950s that Gardner started making films, some in collaboration with American painter Mark Tobey. His international breakthrough would come with Dead Birds (1963), a multi-awarded but controversial portrait of the Dani people in New Guinea. His lyrical and cinematographically exquisite portrayal of non Western cultures would produce many more master pieces in the following decades such as Rivers of Sand (1974), about the Hamar in Southwest Ethiopia, and Forest of Bliss (1986), filmed in the Indian city of Benares. The three abovementioned films are the starting point of Correspondence, Robert Fenz’s tribute to Gardner. Fenz literally followed Gardner’s footsteps in search for the shooting locations of the three films. The result is a poetic dialogue which at the same time pays homage to a obsolescent way of filmmaking. 

Forest of Bliss

Robert Gardner
,
US, IN
,
1986
,
35mm
,
colour
,
90'

Correspondence

Robert Fenz
,
US, DE
,
2011
,
16mm
,
colour
,
30'