Julian Rosefeldt’s American Night

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Lonesome cowboys

BFI Gallery, South Bank, London, until 7 November


At the end of the frontier, from Julian Rosefeldt's American Night


Heading into the darkness of the BFI Gallery is always a dangerous moment for two reasons – one is the likelihood of annoying other visitors by walking between them and the screen (and sometimes there are screens back and front too, so it’s impossible not to get in the way of something), and the second is the probability that you just aren’t going to see someone (probably sitting cross-legged on the floor in an attitude of devotion) and spreadeagle yourself over them. I’m hoping that Alison Wright of Alison Wright PR, who organises these events for the BFI, will be able to keep me out of trouble.

This night, previewing Julian Rosefeldt’s American Night is no different.
Thankfully Danny (according to his name badge) won’t let me enter the
cinema with a glass of wine, so the prospect of embarrassing myself
still further (and if there’s one thing worse than spreadeagling
yourself, it’s when you cover the enthusiastic cinema-goer beneath you
in red wine) recedes slightly into the distance. So I retreat back to
the foyer and that gives me a chance to exchange a brief word with
Geoff Wesborough, who lives in a block beside Tate Modern (and so must be as rich as Croesus). He is a regular at the BFI, he tells me, and
moved to the south bank of the Thames from Richmond to be closer to everything that London has to offer.

Inside, in the dark space where these events happen, American Night turns out to be five widescreen colour movies, shot on a Sergio Leone
film set in southern Spain and on the Canary Islands, running
simultaneously. George W Bush and Barack Obama feature as puppets in one small section!

As usual, I can see not much at all as I walk in, but fumble my way to a seat, which probably tags me as the evening’s pervert.

American Night, it appears, is a kind of ‘day for night’ technique
used in the film industry, and presents us with something that nods
pretty heavily in the direction of François Truffaut’s La Nuit
Américaine. I’m hoping to have a word with David Thorp who writes for
Contemporary magazine and who is interviewing the artist on another
evening, but he is spirited away before I can reach him. I think I see
art blogger Matthew de Abitua passing quickly through also.

The very entertaining 40 minutes or so of the viewing passes quickly.
It’s an intriguing work and Head of Exhibitions at the BFI, Elisabetta
Fabrizi, is to be congratulated for bringing the installation to
London. Julian Rosefeldt is of course based in Berlin and is
represented in London by Max Wigram Gallery London and by Arndt Berlin in Germany.

Somewhere else in the BFI is acclaimed playwright and screenwriter,
David Hare, talking about his career. Maybe that’s the reason that
American Night isn’t quite so crowded as these events usually are.

Julian Rosefeldt’s American Night is at the BFI and runs until 7
November 2010. Admission is free.

© Brent Crude 2010

10 September 2010

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