press release

H BOX is an innovative, roaming screening hall, presenting major new video commissions by eight international artists. Designed by architect Didier Fiuza Faustino, the unique structure hosts a rotating, diverse programme of videos by Alice Anderson, Yael Bartana, Sebastián Díaz-Morales, Dora García, Judit Kúrtag, Valérie Mréjen, Shahryar Nashat, and Su-Mei Tse.

Consisting of two entirely collapsible modules constructed of aluminum and Perspex, H BOX can be assembled, disassembled and transported as required. It is designed to travel the world, in search of new audiences. Each year, as H BOX tours between museums internationally, four new artists will join the programme as four others give up their place. The itinerant nature of the structure and the commissions shown within it highlight the exciting fluidity of video, a medium that continues to reshape the twenty-first century.

H BOX is produced by Hermès. Benjamin Weil, executive director of Artists Space, New York, is the artistic director of the project. H BOX was first unveiled at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in November 2007 and has traveled to MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon, Spain, and MUDAM, Luxembourg. Following its presentation at Tate Modern H BOX will travel to the Yokohama Triennale in Yokohama, Japan.


Shahryar Nashat, Plaque (Slab) Switzerland 2007, Beta, 7’40 minutes Plaque (Slab) is about ‘taking shape’. Its starting point was archive footage of Canadian musician Glenn Gould. In the 1964 recording, the pianist plays on a TV set surrounded by three faux marble monuments. In Shahryar Nashat’s final edit Glenn Gould appears in a short sequence of jaunty stop-action animation. However, Plaque mostly documents the manufacture of a concrete slab in a factory in the outskirts of Berlin. The proportions of the hefty monolith are reminiscent of the panels seen in Gould’s television set. The question of what the real subject might be is left unclear and rendered unstable through editing and the use of different source material. ‘Wordless Plaque suggests that meaning is a construction site where it is maybe better to peer into the wet concrete than worship at the monolith.’ [Dominic Eichler]

Dora García, Film (Hôtel Wolfers) Spain 2007, 35mm transferred to video, 11 minutes Dora García has a taste for travel and the sharing of experience it brings. Born in Valladolid, Spain, in 1965, she studied in the Netherlands. Today, she lives and works in Brussels. Her works combine video, writing and performance. Like a director, García explores the resources of fiction: the fine detailing of the scenario and the incorporation of archival footage or photographs are means to grasp people and emotions. In Film (Hôtel Wolfers), sound and image are independent but strangely connected. We hear a male voice discussing the principle of the subjective camera employed in different ways in three films: Samuel Beckett’s Film (1965), Moustapha Akkad’s The Message (1976), and John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). In each film the camera is assigned a distinctive role by the director, as if embodying a character. Shot first of on black and white 35mm film, the video presents Henry Van de Velde’s celebrated Wolfers House in Brussels, as if in an architectural documentary. But García uses conventions of the subjective camera, which—with a furtive and distracted eye—scans the decaying walls of the building, suggesting the detached attention of the historical gaze.

Yael Bartana, Mary-Koszmary Israel 2007, Super 16 transferred to video, 10’30 minutes Yael Bartana was born in Afula, Israel, in 1970. Today, she lives and works in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. Nourished by an attachment to the land of Israel, Bartana’s work offers a detached, critical, yet undeniably poetic reflection on the complex relationship between the individual and society. Video, her favoured medium, is particularly well-suited to her focus on the isolated individual. Everyday actions are examined in light of the current geopolitical context. Bartana’s videos interrogate the state of permanent war in which Israeli society finds itself, and the position of women within this tense situation. She considers the question of language: its vitality, its power, and the sense of loneliness that arises from the experience of not being understood. In Mary-Koszmary, 2007, a young Polish leftist gives a speech at the Warsaw Stadium, evoking the complex situation in Poland before the outbreak of the Second World War. If the allegory is political, it touches as much on human subjectivity.

Judit Kúrtag, Midway Hungary / France 2007, video, 19 minutes Born in Budapest and brought up in an artistic household, Judit Kurtág trained as a photographer at the École des Gobelins in Paris before continuing her studies at the École des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. After developing a concern with the silence and speed of photography, Kúrtag turned her attention to video, its rhythms and the impetuous or languid movements that give a face to time. Kurtág continues to use both media, adopting a dual artistic identity to match her dual, French-Hungarian nationality. Exhibiting internationally for the past decade, she lives and works in Paris and Berlin. Disguised autobiography and fragments of shattered recollections are characteristic tropes in Kurtág’s work. Midway offers a subtle and detached take on three well-known stories: Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Charles Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood and Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. As in a dream, references are combined and jumbled, without beginning or end, disturbing the possbilities of reading and opening up a space of interpretation both intimate and deeply sensitive.

Valérie Mréjen, Bulles France 2007, video, 5’42 minutes Valérie Mréjen is an artist, photographer and writer. Living in Paris, where she was born in 1969, Mréjen first devoted herself to the visual arts, but words turned out to be as important to her work as images. In addition to her videos and short films, she writes fiction. L’Agrume, published in 2001, was awarded the French prize for the best second novel. Rigorous in the extreme, attentive to the smallest detail, Mréjen conceives her videos in minutely calculated static shots. She finds her subjects in everyday simplicities. Many of her videos are concerned with childhood, misunderstanding, and the comedy of human relationships, but Mréjen’s concerns are very far from being merley sociological. She works with actors as a means of freeing herself from the constraints of documentary. In Bulles, the characters reflect in silence on their relationships to other individuals, who may be present or absent from the room: in voice-over, we hear their thoughts, suppositions, and misunderstandings.

Alice Anderson, Bluebeard UK 2007, video, 14 minutes Born in London in 1976 and brought up in France, Alice Anderson trained at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts before returning to London in 2004. An artist of mystery, Anderson produces photographs and videos that are tinged with darkness. Her characters are marked by the beauty of despair and caustic behaviour. With their frequent allusions to a troubled autobiography and to the mother figure, her videos form a series of Freudian fables. Barbe Bleue recasts the Bluebeard legend in the feminine, presenting a new look at the forbidden. Barbe Bleue is a woman of androgynous physique, who lives alone in a vast and magnificent house where one day a poor mother and her handsome son present themselves at the door. A curious relationship establishes itself between the three characters, one question returning endlessly: who is Barbe Bleue and what is hidden in the room that may not be entered?

Sebastián Díaz-Morales, Oracle Argentina 2007, digital video transferred to dvd, 11 minutes Born in Comodoro Rivadavia in 1975, Sebastián Díaz-Morales lives and works in his native Argentina and in the Netherlands. His work reveals a profound desire for freedom: in documentaries, video-essays or short films, Díaz-Morales is as concerned with experiment as he is with narrative. Produced with minimal equipment—a video camera and a computer—his films mix fiction and reality, presenting individuals confronted by the natural environment or by the pressures of a society torn by political and economic imbalances. Video for Díaz-Morales is an art of scrupulous and committed observation. In an age saturated with language, yelling and speechifying Díaz-Morales works with silent video, allowing him to carve out his own space and to develop a sensibility that privileges the image. Oracle offers a random assemblage of images that address the future as a continuation of the present. Presented without judgment or interpretation, these images succeed each other, like an oracle fusing past and future in the here and now of the spectator.

Su-Mei Tse, Open Score Luxembourg 2007, video, 10 minutes Su-Mei Tse, the daughter of a Chinese father and a British mother, was born in Luxembourg in 1973. Contrast and hybridity are sources of inspiration and reflection in her work as a visual artist and musician. Her projects combine film, photography, music and dance in a logic that is above all concerned with emotion. For Open Score, Su-Mei Tse returns to subjects such as autism, already treated in Chambre sourde (2003) and Le Musicien autiste (1999-2003). ‘Introspection manifests itself in the form of an invented hybrid game, half-way between squash and tennis, in which we follow a single player playing in a blank space, a ‘white box’; a very strong white, accentuating the idea of the void and of confrontation with a space that can also stand for mental space. Suggesting also absence, solitude, and confrontation with ones own ‘I’, or the ‘blank page’ that lies at the beginning of every new work, and which takes form in the course of the game.’ [Su-Mei Tse]

Benjamin Weil Benjamin Weil, artistic director of the H Box, is responsible for programming the eight artists selected for the first year of the project, and the selection of those who will succeed them. Weil is director of Artists Space, a multidisciplinary art centre in New York that shows the work of emerging artists. From 2000 to 2006, he was Curator of Media Arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A specialist in new media, in 1994 he founded äda’web, the first contemporary art website to produce and present works specially made for the internet. He was director of the New Media Centre at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London from 1998 to 2000, and curated the art/film programme for Art Basel in 2006 and 2007.

Didier Fiuza Faustino Didier Fiuza Faustino is an artist and architect. In 1996 he set up the Laboratoire d’Architecture, Performances et Sabotages (l.a.p.s.), and in 2002 founded Bureau des Mésarchitectures. Faustino designed H BOX as ‘a screening space designed as a travel kit,’ a screening room conceived as an itinerant piece of furniture or a suitcase. ‘In placing the body at the centre of the world, at the confluence of visual and audio flows, H BOX explores what an experiential architecture might be. Taking the form of a camera obscura, it is a hybrid object, both hidden refuge and an agent of extreme exposure, whereby the body becomes a photosensitive film, a hypersensory receptor.’ [Didier Fiuza Faustino]

only in german

Design: Didier Fiuza Faustino

Videos von Alice Anderson, Yael Bartana, Sebastian Diaz Morales, Dora Garcia, Judit Kurtag, Valerie Mrejen, Shahryar Nashat, Su-Mei Tse