As a prologue to the major exhibition Alchemy. The Great Art (6 April – 23 July 2017), the American artist Joe Ramirez presents the world premiere of his project The Gold Projections, on the occasion of the 67th Berlin Film Festival, from 7 – 19 February 2017.
Joe Ramirez, who was born in San Francisco in 1958, has lived and worked in Berlin since 2007. He studied painting and film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London, before working as a fresco painter. During the restoration of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Ramirez had the unique opportunity of viewing Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings up close. The journey in the hoist became an initialising experience: the scenes from The Last Judgement rolled past him as in a painted film revealed in stop motion – “fresco cinema”. The impression these images made never left him, and he went on to create something completely new, transforming them over a period of 12 years into his own pictorial language: The Gold Projections.
Using a technique, which he has since patented, Ramirez projects films onto a circular, slightly convex, wooden panel, which he has gilded by hand in an elaborate process, leaf by leaf and layer by layer. This creates a unique projection surface, which determines the form of the projected images.
With their slow pace, the painstakingly composed films work like animated paintings. The expressive wealth of the early Italian fresco painters, echoes of High Renaissance sfumato, as well as the fantastic visions and dramatic light-dark contrasts of Goya can be found in Ramirez’ work. The masters of the Spanish Baroque are as tangible an influence as the cinema visionaries Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky. In a way never seen before, the Gold Projections lend materiality and spatial depth, an almost sculptural quality, to moving images. As with James Turrell, they generate a spectacular, physically tangible, almost graspable light.
At the heart of the special presentation at Kulturforum is Joe Ramirez’s latest film painting Somnium (Latin: dream), based on Johannes Kepler’s 1608 novella of the same name, which describes the author’s dream journey to the moon. Kepler’s science-fiction vision serves Ramirez as the starting point for the creation of his somnambulant images, for his around two-hour-long film painting. Out of loose, intuitively constructed episodes, the artist weaves silent scenes and beguiling images together to form an associative collage that prompts the spectator’s immersion in his own imaginative and contemplative world.
On Tuesday, 7 February 2017, in the Exhibition Hall, Joe Ramirez will begin the gilding process for the projection disc, which stands about 2.5 metres high and weighs some 200 kilograms. Somnium will be projected onto this disc on 14 and 15 February 2017 during the museum’s normal opening hours, and additionally on the evening of Thursday, 16 February 2017. After the showing of Somnium, the work Limits of the Marvellous will be projected on the 18 and 19 February 2017. The piece will be the product of a transformation process, reminiscent of a Gordon Matta-Clark performance. As material and filmic quintessence it will then be included in the Alchemy exhibition.
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