Video Art Program[The 57th Program] Cécile Hartmann


Achrone, 2011 color, black and white, sound, 12min.

Dubai rapidly developed as the economic hub of the Middle East, and skyscrapers and vast shopping malls rose at a dizzying pace. Cécile Altmann visited the city in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 global financial meltdown, and filmed in the city, where huge construction projects had been suspended.
In her video piece, we see a city with a forest of colossal skyscrapers under construction. There are a few people on one construction site, but scarcely any movement visible. Only the cars on the road give the barest sense that the city is not completely depopulated. The other buildings are deserted, and an empty gondola lift sways in the wind. All around, left-behind construction materials and tools are slowly being buried in sand, reminding us that this city arose from the desert. At some point the picture changes to black and white, and we see a rugged moonscape, which transitions to a series of still images of sand dunes swept into beautiful waves by the breeze. The work’s title, Achrone, is derived from the French word for time and the negating prefix a-. Near the end, the achronal desert landscape begins to crumble, evoking sand falling through an hourglass.

Cécile Hartmann:
Born in Colmar (France) in 1971. She is a French artist and filmmaker who negotiates relationships between documentary and fiction. After studies at the National Fine Arts Academy of Paris, she lived in Japan and in Berlin. She questions the division between a constructed world and an organic world, pondering instability, experimental processes and the metaphysical. Her recent researches bring different image regimes, abstract and narrative modes, objects and natural elements into correspondence. Focusing on sites where beauty has evolved from decay or where violence has left scars on the landscape, she vividly depicts the times and places where our present-day economy and architecture interact with landforms, mineral and vegetal, hidden memories, substances and residues. Strongly elaborate, her work and installations give shape to complex forms, surfaces and temporalities inviting the viewer to a warmer embrace of life’s incurable systems.