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Ceci ne serait pas une Pipe (Un film du Musée d’Art Moderne)
1969/70, 35mm, b/w, 2’20”, Brussels
This is one of a series of films that Broodthaers made on the subject of the pipe, a reference to the work of René Magritte. A static camera depicts images of a pipe, clock, and smoke against a whitewashed brick wall. The superimposed titles were added in 1971, and include the labels ‘Figure I’ and ‘Figure II’, phrases that recur throughout Broodthaers oeuvre, and echo Magritte’s concern with the relationship between object, image and language.
Eau de Cologne
1974, 35mm, col., sound, 2’, Cologne
A child voice at the beginning and end of the film repeats its title and the date, 1974, in French, German and English in such a way as to evoke the number 4711 of the well-known Cologne scent of that name. Vertical panning shots of Cologne Cathedral and of Broodthaers holding a potted palm tree are accompanied by an accordion playing Le Chaland qui Passe. The film was previewed in a slightly longer format in June 1974 at the Melville Paris Pullman cinema in Cologne, though Broodthaers’s subsequently cut it to 2 minutes for its first public screening.
1970, 35mm, 3’, Brussels
1974/75, 35mm, col., 2’, Brussels/Paris
The film shows a suited mechanical dummy reading the French newspaper L’Express. Static camera work is juxtaposed with the movement of the camera from side to side, echoing the motion of the figure’s head as he peruses the journal. Though shot in Brussels, the film was edited in Paris and was initially titled Mouvement, which Broodthaers subsequently changed to Monsieur Teste.
Projet Pour un Poisson (Projet pour un Film)
1970/71, 35mm, b/w, 9’ (with title sequence), Brussels / Cologne
The main part of this film was created by the process of superimposition: Broodthaers’s ink drawings of fish, scales, words and signs were transferred to film stock, which was used in negative to create the final work. In contrast, the title sequence, added in 1971, shows Broodthaers’s drawn storyboards filmed with a moving camera. The film was shown for the first time at the Galerie Michael Werner in Cologne in 1971, and a second film Le Poisson est Tenace, was created partly from its out-takes.
Crime à Cologne
1971, 35mm, b/w, 1’30”, Cologne
In 1971, Broodthaers’s exhibited at the Cologne Art Fair and the Galerie Michael Werner nineteen altered copies of the fair’s catalogue. He inscribed onto the books the names of nineteen poets, artists and filmmakers, which he also displayed in the gallery window. This film was shot at the gallery during the exhibition, where a woman reads a book by John Blackberry. The music, which continues throughout the film, even after the last image, is Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), 1859.
La Pipe Satire
1969/70, 35mm, b/w, 3’, Brussels
Une Seconde d’Eternité (D’apres une idée de Charles Baudelaire)
1970, 35mm, b/w, 1”, Berlin
In a film that he declared to be inspired by Charles Baudelaire, Broodthaers employed the techniques of animation. Using a pencil on white card, he drew his initials in twenty four stages and filmed each drawing in one opening of the camera shutter. The resulting film was projected at 24 frames per second, so that it lasted just one second. It was screened in a continuous loop at the Galerie Folker Skulima, alongside a sculpted reproduction of the 24th frame, as a means of ‘presenting the static against the kinetic image’.
Un Film de Charles Baudelaire
1970, 35mm, col., sound, 7’, Brussels/ Paris
This film was made on the occasion of a seminar on Charles Baudelaire given by Lucien Goldmann at Brussels University in 1969-70. It exists in an English version and a French one, the latter never shown during Broodthaers’s lifetime. The film purports to be the second version of a (fictional) film made by Baudelaire in 1850 in memory of his (actual) voyage across the Pacific. It was shot using a world map mounted on black board, filmed in its entirety and in extreme close- up. The subtitles were superimposed on the final prints.
Un Jardin d’Hiver (ABC)
1974, 35mm, col., sound, 6’, Brussels
The subject of the film is Broodthaers’s installation of a winter garden – including palm trees, folding chairs and natural history prints – in one room of a group exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in January 1974. The film was shown as part the installation Un Jardin d’Hiver II in Broodthaers’s solo exhibition, Catalogue-Catalogus, at the same museum later that year. The sound track that accompanies the film is one that Broodthaers had discovered in a sound studio.
Berlin oder ein Traum mit Sahne
1974, 35mm, col., sound, 10’, Berlin
Broodthaers made the film in 1974 while holding a residency under the DAAD programme. It was shown at the Nationalgalerie on the occasion of the exhibition Invitation pour une exposition bourgeoise in the spring of 1975. The film – which depicts Berlin scenery, intercut with scenes of Broodthaers smoking, reading, eating and daydreaming – is accompanied by the sound of Maria Gilissen playing the tune Parlami d’amore, Mariú on the accordion.
La Bataille de Waterloo
1975, 35mm and 16mm, colour, sound, 11’20”, London
For an exhibition in the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 1975, Broodthaers set up two rooms on the upper floor of the ICA with furniture, plants, firearms, photographs and several other objects to accompany his film. One room represents the nineteenth century, with a contemporary interior design and two cannons and a rifle from the Napoleonic era (props for film studios from Bapty & Co. Ltd., Stage and Film Warlike Stores). The other room represents the twentieth century, with an arrangement of typical garden furniture and shelves stacked with machine guns to remind the visitor of the Vietnam war.
The accompanying film consists of shots filmed inside the installation, combined with scenes recorded at the rehearsal and display of the Trooping the Colour on 14 June, 1975. The brutality of war, a central concern of Broodthaers’s film, is complemented by its use of the romantic melodies of Wagner’s Tristan, highlighting the bizarre conflicts that the installation presents and the absurdity of the war that it evokes. The film was first shown to the public at the Tate Gallery in 1976.
(Program notes kindly supplied by the Estate of Marcel Broodthaers, and Michael Werner Gallery, New York.)