Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow"

Here's another interesting film out on very limited release (and hopefully soon on DVD.) From
Sophie Fiennes' highly unconventional documentary "Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow" takes you inside the symbolic and apocalyptic world of German artist Anselm Kiefer, who has spent almost 20 years building a dreamlike city to house his paintings in the south of France. It's difficult to use words to describe what Fiennes' camera captures as it travels slowly and deliberately through the buildings, tunnels, caverns and outdoor spaces Kiefer has constructed at La Ribaute, an abandoned silk factory near the town of Barjac. You could describe it as a permanent construction site, a ruin meant to evoke places like Pompeii, the set for a "Road Warrior" sequel or an almost fascistic museum and theme park built by Kiefer to honor himself.

Whatever else it may be, La Ribaute is clearly a mythic and aesthetic space that suggests various things in the outside world but never engages with them directly. On one hand, Kiefer's somber and often monumental work, with its ash and brown and gray and blue-black tones, has often been described as a reflection of his childhood in postwar Germany. He makes frequent references to the Holocaust, and to such related phenomena as the poetry of Paul Celan and the Jewish spiritual traditions of the Kabbalah. On the other hand, Kiefer's explanations of what's going on at La Ribaute have more in common with science fiction or ancient myths than with, say, replicating Berlin in 1945 (which was, not coincidentally, the year he was born). One building, he tells an interviewer, is supposed to have been hit by meteorites, represented by large boulders that have punched clear through the structure into the underlying tunnels. A basement has been filled with broken glass to represent "Sternfell," the mythical falling of stars to earth...

"Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow": Inside Anselm Kiefer's apocalyptic theme park
Andrew O'Hehir
Thursday, Aug 11, 2011

No comments: