Chantal Akerman: Selfportrait / Autobiography: A Work In Progress - Exhibitions

Chantal Akerman: Selfportrait / Autobiography: A Work In Progress

20 November 1998 – 14 January 1999

Frith Street Gallery is pleased to announce a six part film installation and a series of photographs by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman. Akerman is recognised as one of Europe’s leading auteurs. This is her first solo show in the UK.

The installation consists of edited passages from some of Akerman’s best-known films, including D’Est (1993), Toute une Nuit (1982), Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) and Hôtel Monterey (1972), accompanied by a narrative written and read by the artist.

By isolating individual elements of each film, Akerman focuses the viewer’s attention on details, encouraging a recognition of similarities and patterns within her oeuvre. The text, written three years after the death of Akerman’s father and entitled A Family in Brussels operates as a matrix for the images. The viewer experiences the installation as a flood of interconnected images and sentences in the way one might recall from memory the impressions and emotions of a life.

Akerman’s work can be considered to be a meditation on the problematic nature of the representational abilities of cinema. Many of her works contain images that are presented in unbroken takes from a fixed perspective, and her films are often marked by the lack of conventional cinematic devices such as dialogue or plot. Often set in real time, her films display a lack of hierarchy in the way in which the images are presented; the gradual accumulation of small details and everyday observations in the films create a language of great emotional power.

Akerman made her first film in 1968. In 1975, when she was 25, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, was received with great acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival and instantly acknowledged as a classic of the avant-garde establishing her prominent position within international cinema. Her career has spanned 30 years and includes a wide variety of short and feature length films made for the cinema and European television.

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