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A Village by the Sea A Village by the Sea

Mathias Poledna2011

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney

For the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014), Mathias Poledna presented A Village by the Sea (2011) at Carriageworks. In a short black-and-white film, inside a shadow-lit, silver screen dream-set of an uptown Manhattan apartment, a tuxedoed man and a frothily dressed woman perform a duet: a song-and-dance routine familiar to any fan of Hollywood musicals of the 1930s. Soaring music, pan and crane shots, deco design, lamp-lights and crystal ware, all combine to set the mood of this so-smooth soufflé of a cinematic moment.

Poledna’s film, shot on the expensive stock of 35mm celluloid film, using a 30-piece orchestra at the famous, but now seldom employed, Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros Burbank studios, and working with dozens of film and stagecraft, design, make-up and wardrobe professionals, makes reference to the obsolete and extravagant production of the Hollywood musical. However, unlike the Hollywood musical, which is often dismissed and criticised as style over content, Poledna’s take is all about what is contained within this parenthetically performed and staged space.

The central moment within this cinematic bubble is the song. Like the musical itself, which interrupts speech and natural movement with out-of-the-ordinary singing and dancing, the song serves as a meta-narrative for the plot line, and reinforces the fantasy of romance, which demands the appearance of the love duet. The song is a solipsistic rendering of the male and female relationship in which ideas of masculinity and femininity, of present and future, of carefree and conventional ideas, are contested and performed.

In the instance of Poledna’s version, the song, from which the work takes its title, is based on Léo Chauliac and Charles Trenet’s ‘Que reste-t-il de nos amours?’, first recorded in 1942. The whimsical tune, later adapted by Albert A. Beach as the 1950s standard, ‘I Wish You Love’, is delivered here with different words and a new score, which act as a further meta-narrative. Working primarily in film, Poledna creates short cinematic productions that explore a variety of subjects ranging from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea to post-punk music and the golden-era of American film production. Appealing to our collective memory and imagination, Poledna’s films explore the connections between art and popular culture and the history and language of cinema.

Poledna was selected to represent Austria at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), presenting a series of drawings and a new 35mm colour film titled Imitation of Life (2013). Inspired by the American film industry of the 1930s and 1940s, Poledna worked with historic hand-drawn animation techniques to create a three-minute film of a cartoon donkey performing a musical number.

Produced in collaboration with animation artists from studios in Los Angeles, more than 5000 sketches, drawings, backgrounds and animation cells were made in the process of the work’s creation. The film also features a soundtrack that combines original music with ‘I Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin’, a 1930s song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, recorded with a full orchestra in a style appropriate to the 1930s time period. Imitation of Life explores the correlation between American popular culture and European art, referencing the migration of people from Europe to America, and the export of products and culture from the United States back to Europe.

Recent solo exhibitions of Poledna’s work include ‘A Village by the Sea’, Vienna Secession (2013) and Galerie Daniel Bucholz, Berlin (2012); ‘Mathias Poledna/Florian Pumhösl’, Raven Row, London (2011); ‘Karthik Pandian/Mathias Poledna’, Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna (2010); and ‘NEW COMMISSIONS Mathias Poledna: Crystal Palace’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2009). Poledna has also participated in international group exhibitions including Busan Biennale (2012); ‘The Activity of Sound’, Grieder Contemporary Projects, Berlin (2011); ‘unExhibit’, Generali Foundation, Vienna (2011); and ‘Modernologies’, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2010).

For the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014), Mathias Poledna presented A Village by the Sea (2011) at Carriageworks. In a short black-and-white film, inside a shadow-lit, silver screen dream-set of an uptown Manhattan apartment, a tuxedoed man and a frothily dressed woman perform a duet: a song-and-dance routine familiar to any fan of Hollywood musicals of the 1930s. Soaring music, pan and crane shots, deco design, lamp-lights and crystal ware, all combine to set the mood of this so-smooth soufflé of a cinematic moment.

Poledna’s film, shot on the expensive stock of 35mm celluloid film, using a 30-piece orchestra at the famous, but now seldom employed, Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros Burbank studios, and working with dozens of film and stagecraft, design, make-up and wardrobe professionals, makes reference to the obsolete and extravagant production of the Hollywood musical. However, unlike the Hollywood musical, which is often dismissed and criticised as style over content, Poledna’s take is all about what is contained within this parenthetically performed and staged space.

The central moment within this cinematic bubble is the song. Like the musical itself, which interrupts speech and natural movement with out-of-the-ordinary singing and dancing, the song serves as a meta-narrative for the plot line, and reinforces the fantasy of romance, which demands the appearance of the love duet. The song is a solipsistic rendering of the male and female relationship in which ideas of masculinity and femininity, of present and future, of carefree and conventional ideas, are contested and performed.

In the instance of Poledna’s version, the song, from which the work takes its title, is based on Léo Chauliac and Charles Trenet’s ‘Que reste-t-il de nos amours?’, first recorded in 1942. The whimsical tune, later adapted by Albert A. Beach as the 1950s standard, ‘I Wish You Love’, is delivered here with different words and a new score, which act as a further meta-narrative. Working primarily in film, Poledna creates short cinematic productions that explore a variety of subjects ranging from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea to post-punk music and the golden-era of American film production. Appealing to our collective memory and imagination, Poledna’s films explore the connections between art and popular culture and the history and language of cinema.

Poledna was selected to represent Austria at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), presenting a series of drawings and a new 35mm colour film titled Imitation of Life (2013). Inspired by the American film industry of the 1930s and 1940s, Poledna worked with historic hand-drawn animation techniques to create a three-minute film of a cartoon donkey performing a musical number.

Produced in collaboration with animation artists from studios in Los Angeles, more than 5000 sketches, drawings, backgrounds and animation cells were made in the process of the work’s creation. The film also features a soundtrack that combines original music with ‘I Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin’, a 1930s song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, recorded with a full orchestra in a style appropriate to the 1930s time period. Imitation of Life explores the correlation between American popular culture and European art, referencing the migration of people from Europe to America, and the export of products and culture from the United States back to Europe.

Recent solo exhibitions of Poledna’s work include ‘A Village by the Sea’, Vienna Secession (2013) and Galerie Daniel Bucholz, Berlin (2012); ‘Mathias Poledna/Florian Pumhösl’, Raven Row, London (2011); ‘Karthik Pandian/Mathias Poledna’, Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna (2010); and ‘NEW COMMISSIONS Mathias Poledna: Crystal Palace’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2009). Poledna has also participated in international group exhibitions including Busan Biennale (2012); ‘The Activity of Sound’, Grieder Contemporary Projects, Berlin (2011); ‘unExhibit’, Generali Foundation, Vienna (2011); and ‘Modernologies’, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2010).

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Details

  • Title: A Village by the Sea A Village by the Sea
  • Creator: Mathias Poledna, Mathias Poledna
  • Date: 2011, 2011
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin and Cologne; Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna; and Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles, Courtesy the artist; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin and Cologne; Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna; and Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles
  • Type: Audio Visual/Installation, Audio Visual/Installation
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/, http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney, Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: 35mm film, 5:40 mins, black-and-white, optical sound, 35mm film, 5:40 mins, black-and-white, optical sound
  • Edition: 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire

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