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Describing Love (in 7 Fragments)

14 june, 2004 - 23 june, 2004 /
Sabatini Building, Auditorium
Chris Cunningham. All is Full of Love, 1999
Chris Cunningham. All is Full of Love, 1999

Describing Love (in 7 Fragments) presents some twenty videos and seven films that, using different moments and contexts, reflect on love and are related to seven ideas taken from the book by Roland Barthes (Cherbourg, 1915 - Paris, 1980), Fragments d’un discourse amoureux. The book is structured around topics (arranged from A to Z) that the author defines both theoretically and personally. As in the book, the programme follows Barthes’ ideas in alphabetical order, as he presents them in the original French, thus questioning the linearity of the narrative of the subject’s experience and his love affair, providing a portrait (which is structural more than biographical) in which the loving subject speaks about himself in a confrontation with the loved object, who does not speak.

The ideas of Affirmation, Contacts, Letter, Signs, Unknowable, Unbearable and Waiting act as structural axes for each of the seven sessions that make up the series, a look at some of the essential figures (to use an expression from Barthes) in the discourse of love. Music is the common denominator of the first light and festive programme, which includes pieces by Zbigniew Rybczyński (Lódz, 1949), Chris Cunningham (Reading, 1970) and Pipilotti Rist (Grabs, 1962), among others. The sessions dedicated to Letter and Contacts use pieces by VALIE EXPORT (Linz, 1940), Rui Calçada Bastos (Lisbon, 1971) and Sadie Benning (Madison, 1973) to reveal the joyous beginnings of relationships when feelings of falling in love take command.

Waiting introduces the “tumult of anxiety provoked by waiting for the loved being, subject to trivial delays, letters, telephone calls, returns”. In this fourth programme, the Internet (virtual communication) and the telephone play leading roles, for example in works by Christian Jankowski (Göttingen, 1968) and Lorna Simpson (New York, 1960). The last three sessions look more deeply at the discourse of love, where the abstraction inherent in concepts like ‘unknowable’ and ‘signs’ introduce the darker aspects of love affairs.

The variety of playful, ironic, poetic, critical and committed approaches in the works included in Describing Love (in 7 Fragments) contribute to a multi-faceted definition of the idea of love, and freedom from the prejudices that trivialise or deny the political importance of topics so close to what is individual and personal.

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Montse Badia


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