Despite the plethora of images and information that inundates contemporary life, we can rarely be certain of the reliability or the persuasive spin defining what we encounter. Artist Johan Grimonprez questions the reality presented by news media and popular culture and sees that fear has become a global commodity. In an effort to make sense of the chaos and to offer his own critical analysis, artist Johan Grimonprez positions his film work within the intersections of popular culture and art, of fiction and documentary.
The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh currently presents Johan Grimonprez - offering a sample of Grimonprez’s work in film that allows the gallery visitor to experience the progression of his career. This exhibition includes Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997), DOUBLE TAKE (2008), Where is Your Helicopter (1992) and It Will Be Alright If You Come Again, Only Next Time Don’t Bring Any Gear, Except A Tea Kettle (1994). These examples reveal that Grimonprez has been an early leader in the ascendancy of the moving image and documentary in contemporary art practice.
Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y and DOUBLE TAKE – both film essays – address compelling contemporary issues. Each was created using found footage from news broadcasts, Hollywood movies, animated films and commercials layered together to address contemporary complexities. Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y focuses on the history of airplane high-jacking since the 1970s and how this changed the nature of journalism. In DOUBLE TAKE, Grimonprez uses highly recognizable visual Hitchcock metaphors to segue into important pedagogic content. Hitchcock’s many cameo appearances hint at repeated doubling of identity and meaning while the birds become a metaphor for fear and paranoia.
Grimonprez’ work reminds us to take nothing at face value – that multiple and hidden meanings lie beyond the images we encounter. This idea is something that we are reminded of everyday – most recently with the violent Israeli crackdown on aid ships seeking to break the Gaza blockade.
Johan Grimonprez lives and works in Brussels and New York and is represented by the Sean Kelly Gallery. He studied at the School of the Visual Arts in New York where he now serves as a faculty member. Grimonprez has shown internationally and his work can be found in important collections such as Artist Rooms.
Johan Grimonprez will be on view at the Fruitmarket Gallery through 22 July 2010.