Erarta Museum presents an exhibition by the prominent French filmmaker, photographer and multi-instrumentalist Siegfried
- Hundreds of miles and faces captured on film
- The joy of ordinary things
- A road movie superimposing illusion over reality
Siegfried is a truly versatile artist: at once a film director, a composer, and a photographer. Russia has long been his creative hub, a place for close friendships and collaborations in independent filmmaking and avant-garde jazz. He enjoys continued success touring under his alias Sig with the acclaimed trumpeter Erik Truffaz, but seems capable of instigating his own experimental jam in any of the European cities. Moscow and St. Petersburg have seen him perform with Vladimir Volkov, Sergey Letov, and other like-minded improvisers.
The exhibition Kinogamma: Film and Selected Photographs of Strangers on view at the Erarta Museum testifies to Siegfried's strong commitment to analogue photography and manual film processing, at the same time presenting him as an underground filmmaker. The series of photographs and the film presented here comprise the artist's visual diary kept, quite literally, on the road. Moscow, Orsk, Novotroitsk, Tallinn, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan — no matter where he finds himself at the moment, Siegfried invariably captures the very essence of the local social and cultural life.
The main characters of his black and white photographs are the locals and passers-by encountered in the congested cities. The reality captured on photographic film, particularly in the artist's psychologically intense portraits, stands in strong contrast to his musical and cinematic output based on dynamic editing and experiments with sound.
What the pictures and the film have in common, though, is their creator's unique perception of the humanity: the excited admiration for each of his models, the delight found in ordinary things, the meditative contemplation of what goes on, and a kind of joy stemming from absolute acceptance of the existence.
It is particularly important that this exhibition is taking place in Russia. For many years Siegfried has been a tactful observer of the day-to-day realities in our country, choosing it is the filming place for the first part of his Kinogamma motion picture. The film's title alludes to Dziga Vertov's Cine-Eye (Kinoglaz), a cult movie for cinephiles internationally. Siegfried's film employs the same principles of 'attacking the reality with a movie camera', but instead of words the artist finds his ground in sounds, while the reality itself is spaced out by thousands of miles.
Kinogamma is a peculiar kind of a road movie in which the director entices viewers into a complex visual and musical illusion created by him together with his chance travel companions and fellow human beings.
His cast members are nearly speechless, immersed in their work or daily routines. There are no major or lesser characters here, each one of them is a modest everyman allowing us a glimpse into his world of everyday objects, sounds and actions. The viewer drifts between individual stories making no distinction between fact and fiction: we walk the subway underpasses, empathise with the woman giving birth right before our eyes, have lunch with the workers at a factory canteen, and admire the perseverance of the little aspiring ballerinas.
Siegfried's entire multi-faceted oeuvre, unfolding against the backdrop of global military conflicts, the triumph of technology and the primacy of intellect, is held together by the recurring themes of love and freedom. The artist remains true to his ideals, to which his international activism and this exhibition at the Erarta Museum bear convincing witness.