"I am leaving in Brooklyn its the end of the world..." (Michel Auder)
It’s nothing. It will never be here again. That thing that left the world.... That thing never came back again. It came back one time but it wasn’t the same thing. --Alex’s monologue in Michel Auder, Talking Head, 1981, Edited 2009 (1⁄2” reel to reel video to digital video SD, black and white, sound, 02:27 minutes)
I’m not asking you about your overlays of memories, like the overlays of culture in Europe, culminating in a decayed sea- side hotel whose walls peel away from themselves into the literature they think is supporting them. I’m asking you what you know.” --Kathy Acker, Don Quixote, (New York: Grove Press, 1986)
What Michel Auder knows is that overlays of time, memories—the now and then of it—temporally and technologically, all collapse and dissolve when you just live your life. The works included are records of doing that. Living. What he and we all do now with our phones, record it, he’s been doing since the introduction of the Sony Portapak in the late 1960s. So he’s better at it. Which is also a great thing to know.
Of the ‘vintage’ works included, or works utilizing his own vintage footage, 48 Hours In 8 Minutes, 1978 (Super 8 film to digital video SD, color, silent, 08:26 minutes) gives us compressed time of Auder looking at himself with a Super 8 camera, in bed with Bengal tiger sheets, sleeping, doing blow, on the phone, talking, sleeping, fooling around, eating, reading, drinking. Blind Sex, 1983, Edited 2009 (1⁄2” Betamax video SP to digital video SD, color, sound, 05:16 minutes) showcases New York City in the early 1980s—street scenes, hookers on Delancey Street shot from a window, West Broadway, back to Delancey with a videotape glitch, radio soundtrack, hooker convincing a john into a hotel, guy helping a woman across the street, john walking around seeming happy enough. And Chronicles Morocco, 1971-1972 (1⁄2” reel to reel video to digital video SD, black and white, sound, 26:33 minutes) provides a seconds-long glimpse of Viva and their baby Alex, then becomes a travelogue of camels, donkeys, children, builders building and posing for the camera, music, a guy making a lot of noise, showing off, shoving eggs into his underpants, showing his dick, ripping the head off a bird, cooking it, and then seemingly Auder and his friends eat it.
Like all of Auder’s work, these pieces rely on a practice of rigorous editing from extensive volumes of material. His illusory images are conscientiously rendered minutiae, anthologized fragments drawn from an archive of spontaneous footage. If his early film works were recklessly idiosyncratic, they also serve to foreshadow Auder’s subsequent decades of casting dramas from his lived experience, and provide him a means to structure otherwise uncomposed moments of life.
Encompassing the complex range of methodologies that characterize Auder’s work to date, more recent videos rely heavily on newly available digital technologies. Made primarily with an iPhone, they respond to the increased anonymity/ surveillance of social media and the Internet, and situate Auder, reflectively, in the present—an artist left to his own devices. Do You Love Me? 2013 (mini-dv and phone video to digital video SD, color, sound, 10:38 minutes) begins with folding a letter, time folding. It looks enough like Morocco or Vanuatu or upstate—far away and near. Here is what it says: a toast with Jonas Mekas, kitchens, dinners, back yards, kids playing in the mud, real babies, fake babies, hornets, spiders, bees, rabbit in a snow globe, naked boys, naked men, a crashed plane, his apartment on fire and Kembra in red body paint, overlays of art and life, eating, swimming, “Tongue Kiss,” rain, snow, fire, birds, a clown, dramatic and mundane landscapes, kids’ voices, Do You Love Me?
To say that these works feature interests and techniques that Auder revisits throughout his career is at a certain point a given. Using his camera (mobile phone, handheld, underwater device) as a voyeuristic tool, he provides strangely intimate portraits of his world, at times of unwitting neighbors, and always of himself. Bizarrely epic in scale, his Endless Column, 2011 (phone video to digital video HD, color, sound, 18:21 minutes) approximates what many people seemingly do all the time—whizz through their inexhaustible albums of digital pictures, trying to locate something. But Auder’s rehearsed yet manic typing fast through segments of his life instead locates him. Train tracks, travel, Jelena and Zlato, Jelena and Ruta, us, masks, Lucien, the phone buzzing, Jelena’s studio, same bunny in a snow globe, self portrait, studio, himself and others typing, lost tooth, weather, boxes, the layout of his book, “what will you do when I die,” Marisa, Christmas cookies, mail, computer screens, Femlins!, baking cookies, wine spill, me and Tom, Breyer P-Orridge, Timothy Carey, Jennifer Miller, Vaginal Davis, Marisa and Zlato, moving the studio, fire on East Houston, signs saying “NO” to dumping, trespassing, eating, smoking, “Night Repair,” home of the brave, no signal, Rona’s show, “Man with a Camera,” flowers, art shows, installations, videotapes, plans, “the advantages of being a lesbian artist,” grandkids, spiders, me trying on clothes, rubber duck, cats, “A Coupla White Faggots Sitting Around Talking,” a pause, Michel Auder’s show....
- Lia Gangitano
Michel Auder was born in Soissons, France and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has been working in video since the inception of the Sony Portapak around 1968. He has screened and exhibited his work extensively, nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Stories, Myths, Ironies, and Other Songs: Conceived, Directed, Edited, and Produced by M. Auder, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2014); Screen Life #13 & Polaroid, Office Baroque, Brussels, Belgium (2014); Portrait of Michel Auder, Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal (2013); Language is Only a Word and I’m so Jealous of Birds, NoPlace, Oslo, Norway (2011); Dinner Is Served, Art Unlimited, Art 42 Ba- sel, Switzerland (2011); The World Out of my Hands, Lund Konsthall, Sweden (2011); Dinner is Served, Krabbesholm, Skive, Denmark (2010); and Keeping Busy: An Inaccurate Survey of Michel Auder, Zach Feuer Gallery, Newman Popiashvili Gallery & Participant Inc, NY & Volume2, Los Angeles (2010). Auder’s solo screenings include dOCUMENTA, Kassel, Germany (2013); Intimate Stranger, Anthology Film Archives, New York (2010); and Retrospective at 11th Biennial of Moving Images, Geneva, Switzerland (2006). His film, The Feature, made with Andrew Neel, was screened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); as well as the Berlin, London, and Denmark Film Festivals in 2008. He has had solo exhibitions at Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery, Santa Monica (2012); Galleria Fonti, Naples, Italy (2011); Cubitt, London (2009); and Yvon Lambert, Paris, France (2007); and his work has been included in exhibitions such as the 2nd Athens Biennial, Athens, Greece (2009); and the 5th Berlin Biennial, (2008). In 2002, Auder had two retrospectives, Michel Auder: Retrospective 1969-2002 at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and Michel Auder: Video, Film, Photography 1969-2001, at Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden. Auder will have a solo exhibition at De Hallen, Haarlem, The Netherlands in 2014 and participate in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.