Maria Pask

Film program

02/04/11 – 16/04/11
For the first time in the Netherlands, Maria Pask’s newest film Déjà vu (2010) will be screened at Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS. Accompanied by earlier work, this is the ultimate chance to get an insight into the impressive film collection of Maria Pask.

Amsterdam-based Maria Pask investigates in her project-based work the collective creativity, empowerment and the position of the individual in the community. Working with social structures, she employs a broad array of methods ranging from sculpture and film to workshops, publications, live performances and events. Her work often has a strong social and collaborative element reminiscent of radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s. It will be the first time her newest film Déjà vu (2010) will be shown in the Netherlands, which was previously made and shown at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford.

Friday April 15: Artist Talk by Maria Pask at Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS, more info coming up soon.

Deja Vu, 2010, HD video (on Blue-ray), 72 min.

Little Millet, 2009, HD video, 31:53 min.

Beat It, 2004, DVD, 6 min.

The Naturist Campsite, 2001, DVD, 12 min.

Starhawk! The Musical, 2004, DVD, 66:11 min.

Summer School, 'John Newton: a basic guide to play', 2005, DVD, 55:22 min.

DÉJÀ VU, 2010, DVD, 72 min. Pask’s newest film Déjà vu is inspired by Rose Hill Roundabout, a community newsletter produced from the 1950s to the 1960s in Rose Hill, a housing estate on the outskirts of Oxford. Filmed on location in Rose Hill, the film stars local people alongside professional actors. The film presents a series of mini-dramas inspired by past community events that were documented in the newsletter, such as a tiddlywinks competition and amateur dramatics productions. Roundabout promoted the development of community cohesion and engaged in political and social discussion, whilst recognizing the value and importance of local life. The film was produced for the Museum of Modern Art Oxford and shown there previously.

LITTLE MILLET, 2009, digital video, 31:53 min. Little Millet was made as part of the project of De Appel curatorial program ’08/09, ‘Weak Signals, Wild Cards’. Little Millet is a film that records fragments of conversation between an empty building and the younger self of American author and feminist activist Kate Millet. Echoing parts of Millet’s biography, the ‘little Millet’ finds her meaning becoming lost in the medium. Misunderstood by her commune, her family, the city, the press – she creates an illusion of time-bending space that exists only in her mind, a limitless arena where her memories degenerate into rhapsody and mania. This fictionalised narrative could be an alternative future path, forked from Millet’s history. It is derived from a series of interviews and newspaper articles from the 1990s describing the role Millet took in a tenants’ dispute against the Cooper Square Urban Renewal Scheme in New York. Best known for her 1970 dissertation Sexual Politics, Kate Millet started buying and restoring farm property near Poughkeepsie, New York to use as a bolt-hole. The project became the Women’s Art Colony Farm, a community of female artists and writers where she currently earns a living selling Christmas trees and screen prints.

BEAT IT, 2004, DVD, 6 min. ‘Beat it’ was made for the exhibition “Olandu Biuras” at CAC in Vilnius on occasion of the Dutch presidency of the EU and the EU enlargement of ten countries. In the video that accompanies the Michael Jackson song Beat it, two urban gangs come together in an industrial warehouse to fight. Michael Jackson enters, breaks the fight up, and leads the two groups into a fabulously choreographed dance routine. The tension is broken and everyone cheers. For Maria Pask, the song and the dance routine is a very black and white, rather ridiculous but accessible metaphor for complex political issues surrounding the entrance of countries into Europe and the subsequent formation of a new superstate. For the CAC, Pask worked with art students from Holland and Lithuania to re-enact the dance routine from the Beat it video. They then performed the dance routine on the opening night of the exhibition. The Dutch students played one urban gang, the Lithuanians the other. They collaborated on costume and sets. Pask wants to start the process of putting on a show to re-energize a group of young students and to encourage everyone to use skills they may have previously kept outside of their own art practice. It was to be a new direction that the whole group experienced together.

THE NATURIST CAMPSITE, 2001, DVD, 14 min. This film is a documentation of a live event that took place in the back garden of Marres, Centrum Beeldende Kunst in Maastricht in 2001. In “Naturist campsite” Pask presented a work that examined and rearranged the ‘rules’ of Naturism with its supposed ideals of freedom and non-exclusivity. The camp lasted for 1 day and actors were used to play the roles of the naturists. The actors were cast according to type, young, slim and good-looking therefore adding to the fantasy of the ideal. Open access was given to the visiting public who upon entering the garden from the main exhibition space were immediately confronted by a fully functioning naturist camp. Pask presented the idea that the visiting public was made to feel that they too could possibly loose their inhibitions if they wanted to. The actors were instructed to actively encourage the public sometimes using the rampant sentiment of communication often associated with the politics of naturism. It doubled either as an invitation or a challenge.

SUMMER SCHOOL ‘John Newton: a basic guide to play’, 2005, DVD, 55:22 min In August 2005 Pask brought together actors from Milton Keynes to work with a small group of Dutch artists. Arriving and encamping at Milton Keynes Gallery in a VW Camper van, Pask’s ensemble ‘spilt out’ into the exhibition space, transforming the gallery into an all-in-one production site for stage design, a prop making facility and rehearsal space, open for gallery visitors to watch. The project comprised of a four-day workshop, using a script devised by the artist. The play was performed over two evenings; one act presented each night, the script for which the actors had only been given the day before. Pask’s project made visible the very structure of an artwork, and, racing against time, created as many possibilities for it to fail as to succeed. The script focuses on the life and work of John Newton, past resident of Olney (a village near Milton Keynes), reformed slave trader and author of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. Pask’s project fittingly contemporizes the past, connecting 18th century social reform with the social and political complexities of today.

STARHAWK! THE MUSICAL, 2004, DVD, 66:11 min Starhawk! the musical, is a musical realized with art academy students around the themes of spiritual and political activism. Interested in alternative concepts of life style and community organization, Pask chooses to focus on the personality of Starhawk. Starhawk is a real person in her fifties, an ecotopian and feminist activist based in San Francisco. The musical, in fact, evolves through a series of workshops Pask develops with students who have applied to participate by answering the ads she spread around the academy in search of the cast (“WANTED! Enthusiastic student to work on developing a musical score for an art project.”). In four acts – ‘Beginning,’ ‘Direction,’ ‘Teaching,’ and ‘Witness’ – and a number of scenes the students are free to reinterpret and improvise the script according to their own interests, knowledge, experiences, fantasies, and artistic convictions. This involves stage design and composing music – all this is done by the students themselves and under a considerate supervision by Pask. There is no distinction between the rehearsals and performances themselves: the camera is the audience that is permanently present, registering all stages of the development.

Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS
Rozengracht 207A
1016 LZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands