Mario Garcia Torres, “Unspoken Dailies”, 2003-2009, 16mm black and white film, 66 min. Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery
Torres’ feature length movie contains no words. Nor does it need to. This tribute to the enigmatic Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader who is as well known for his work on celluloid as for his mysterious disappearance in the aftermath of an attempted crossing of the Atlantic in a 12 foot boat tackles memory and time. The 16mm movie recalls Ader’s on-camera falls and introvert close-ups, but it goes a step further, taking the viewers into the realms of the unsaid and the undone.
The movie, shot in real time, features Mexican actor Diego Luna well-known from his mainstream works (Y tu mama también, 2001, Milk, 2008). In a simulation of a prolonged screen test Luna was handed a script (based on Torres’ academic paper “Around Bas Jan Ader” presented at a conference in 2004) and is placed in a sparsely furnished space with only a table, a chair, a plant, a wall clock (the very one installed in the galleries, featured in the photo above), and a glass of water. The paper is now a script, and the actor has been instructed to read it, silently, for the first time, as the camera rolled. While it might not seem as a premise for the most exciting 66 minutes ever spent, the movie proves otherwise. Punctuated with Luna’s subtle expressions, the inevitable yet titillating advancement of the clock’s hands, and an original score by Alejandro Ross, it makes for a very engaged viewing. Shot by Alexis Zabé. I suggest that before going to see the feature you check out some of Bas Jas Ader’s work here.
This is Torres’s second solo show in Japan, but this young conceptual artist had already made a reputation for himself both in Europe and the US. A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts (2005), Torres lists Jeu de Paume (2009), Kunsthalle Zurich (2008) and Stedelijk Museum (2007) among others on the list of solo exhibition venues.
On through December 12 at the Taka Ishii gallery. Screenings at 13:00, 15:00 and 18:00 daily.