The GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Bergamo, together with the Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Georges Pompidou of Paris, is pleased to present a selection of video works by Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky.

Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky are a couple of conceptual artists who, since 1988, live and work in New York , creating works both individually and in collaboration with one another.
Concentrating mostly on media such as photography, video and slide-projection, over the years Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky have developed a body of works that combine everyday poetry and conceptual rigor. Their research into the nature of languages and the media based on recording the passing of time – such as video, cinema and photography – goes beyond the limits of purely formal research and touches on themes such as memory, the fragility of human existence and the unconscious.

For the first time in Italy it will be possible to admire a selection of video works of the two authors that are related to one another by the theme of cinematographic image and brought together in a program designed expressly for the occasion.

The works on display are the result of a working method that combines deep theoretical awareness – in this particular regarding the history of cinema – with a marked poetic attitude. Images and sequences from masterpieces by Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard are extrapolated and modified, with slight technical solutions, resulting in revealing a hidden aspect. As in all their work, what may first appear familiar is revealed under a new and unexpected light.

The video entitled Black and White (2008) uses a short extract from the film Persona that Ingmar Bergman made in 1966. A few minutes of the Bergman footage are shown at the beginning in the sequence of the original film, then at the end of the sequence the same images are shown in reverse. While Bergman’s film is a profoundly psychological investigation made through the close comparison of the film’s two protagonists (Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson), the work by the Kopystianskys takes up the theme of the “double” once again, transposing it onto the image itself, which is split by its temporal linearity.

The second work on display I Knew Edwards only Slightly (2009), instead, borrows a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound from 1945. Here we see the same sequence – in which the protagonist is Ingrid Bergman – several times, alternatively positive and negative, while in the moments of the shift from one state to the next the screen gradually goes gray until it cancels the image itself. Even in this case the film is one of Hitchcock’s most psychological and oneiric, in which the director investigates not only the setting for psychoanalysis but also the mechanisms of the dream, trauma, amnesia and memory. In Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky’s work the film’s images emerge and disappear cyclically, evoking the uncertain confines of memory.

Fiction Double (2008) is the 20 minute concentration of a longer work in which the artists used the entire film Breathless produced in 1960 by Jean-Luc Godard, with co-protagonists Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. Godard’s film is re-proposed in full, with two versions superimposed run in opposite directions: one from the beginning to end of the film and the other from the end to the beginning. In this way the entire film is doubled and only at the mid-point is there a single frame that is perfectly visible because it coincides with the only instant when the two streams of images align.

The final work on display is Speak when I have nothing to say (2009), in which the film Eclipse by Michelangelo Antonioni (1962) is the object of appropriation and re-editing. The work consists of a montage of a few scenes from the film that are selected from among those in which its protagonists Monica Vitti and Alain Delon act without exchanging a single word. A few scenes appear more than once, in different lengths. Eclipse is a kind of shortened and silent version of the original film, a tribute to Antonioni’s capacity to delve into the psychology of the characters, examining silence as a dimension of existential incommunicability and solitude.