Jane & Louise Wilson: Screening & Conversation with the Artists in conjunction with From the Ruins
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 4pm at SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 W 26th St., 15th floor

This program featured a short screening of two recent films, The Toxic Camera (2012) and Undead Sun (2014), by Turner-prize nominated artists Jane & Louise Wilson, curated by Jane Ursula Harris in conjunction with the exhibition, From the Ruins... A dialogue between the artists and curator followed, exploring the Wilsons’ work in relation to the exhibition’s apocalyptic themes as well as the rise of “dark tourism” (i.e., the desire to visit disaster zones).

The Toxic Camera, 2012 (21 min), revisits the Chernobyl nuclear reactor site where Ukrainian filmmaker Vladimir Shevchenko first documented the aftermath of the infamous 1986 explosion, entering the zone three days after the disaster. He died eight months later from dispersed radiation sickness.

The film was developed from interviews with the surviving film crew and the liquidators who were involved in the clean up. The Toxic Camera weaves a narrative around the story of the camera, reflecting on the materiality of film and incorporating recollections from nuclear plant workers, nuclear physicists, and Shevchenkoʼs film crew.

Undead Sun, 2014 (10 min), mixes animation, historical photography and staged scenes to underscore the paradoxical relationship between warfare and technological progress, emphasizing the evolving surveillance and propaganda programs of World War I.

During the First World War, the advent of aerial warfare and the new possibilities offered by the panoramic overview triggered rapid advances in optics and other technological innovations. Alongside these, new counter measures such as the art of camouflage and cloaking emerged. Alluding to the threat of exposure from above, Undead Sun explores ideas of visibility and concealment.

The film concludes with a conscientious objector shredding the uniform that he was forced to wear. The scene was inspired by diary entries of a WWI conscientious objector and alludes to an ongoing cycle of protest against war as seen in present conflicts and future ones yet to come.

Using film, photography and sculpture, Jane and Louise Wilson have created a series of highly theatrical and atmospheric installations that investigate the darker side of human experience. They first began working together in 1989 and have since been fascinated by the power of the unconscious mind, creating a body of work that probes collective anxieties and phobias, arouses unwanted memories, and reveals things which are usually repressed. They have exhibited widely at galleries and museums internationally including the Tate Britain; Victoria & Albert Museum; MoMA; LACMA; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Paris; and 303 Gallery in NYC, which represents the artists.

Jane Ursula Harris is a Brooklyn-based writer who has contributed to publications like Art in America, Bookforum, The Paris Review, The Believer, The Village Voice, and Time Out New York. She has also contributed essays to various catalogues such as Hatje Cantz’s Examples to Follow: Expeditions in Aesthetics and Sustainability (2010); Phaidon’s Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing (2005); Universe-Rizzoli’s Curve: The Female Nude Now (2004); and Twin Palms’ Anthony Goicolea (2003). Harris is a member of the art history faculty at School of Visual Arts and is the founder of the blog janestown.net. A sample of her fiction can be found at ducts.org/content/picklocks/

Image above: Jane and Louise Wilson. Undead Sun (2014; still). © Jane and Louise Wilson. Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York.
Film credits: Jane and Louise Wilson, The Toxic Camera, 2012, 21 min, 07 sec. Co-produced by Film London (FLAMIN) and Forma Arts and Media, Arts Council England. Special thanks to Tony White and Dr.Susan Schuppli; Jane and Louise Wilson, Undead Sun, 2014, 14 min, 13 sec. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and The Arts Council England,The Imperial War Museum, London. Special thanks to Artliner, Tom McCarthy and 'C.'

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