Little Sheep

2009


Marseille, Où - Lieu d’exposition pour l’art actuel


1 video loop, 10’24’’.






Little Sheep is made up of fifteen short video montages created using the closing shots of the Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Otto Preminger films worked into Lora’s Tears. By focusing on the endings of the works, whereas the Little Foxes montage made use of their openings, it acts as a pendant to the prior work, logically closing visitors’ pathway through the exhibition.

Nonetheless, the montage has been developed in a very different manner from Little Foxes. The principal method employed consists of exchanging the images and soundtracks from the closing minutes of the five films brought together in an attempt to match, thus creating new endings. This process lends the entire production the air of a stylistic exercise, conferring a highly academic and ordered form that contrasts with that of Little Foxes, which functions through far vaguer effects that interweave and overlay the filmic materials.

The title given to the montage underlines the simplicity of the process. In contrast to the Little Foxes that run around in all directions, these Little Sheep proceed as a flock. One after the other, the fifteen montages follow the same paths and never deviate from directions sign-posting their route. The inextricable nature of their trajectory, emphasised by the systematic use of fades-to-black and fermatas in the musical score within each of the fifteen parts, recalls the legend of Panurge’s sheep launching themselves over a cliff edge. We may also compare them to the sheep counted before sleep, as though the monotony deriving from the visual and sound repetition effects were to lead the spectator to detach from the series’ general thrust, and the framework of the entire exhibition.

This repetitive programme helps to emphasize the stronghold exerted by the codes of Hollywood over the films’ production. Indeed, it is due to the clear similarities that emerge between their various conclusions that the sound-visual exchange process is made possible within the frame of the montage. The limited nature of the materials suggests the idea of a series of minute variations and reinforces the sense of repetition initiated by the analogies themselves. The systematic switching of the five films’ closing captions accentuates the idea that the spectator is faced with a set of paradigms in which it appears that any element can easily be replaced by another without having any effect on the works’ general stances.

Nonetheless, spectators will be free to seek out the true endings of the films used among the successive excerpts shown, despite their systematic reshuffling in view of inducing a sense of distance and doubt in their minds. Thus indirectly invited to mentally re-organise the montages, matching up their own combinations so as to regain the true nature of the works treated, visitors are led to sort the sheep from the goats.

Some shots from the films used have also been laterally inverted within the montages. Displayed in reverse, the “The End” screens of the closing captions of each title make these re-workings explicit. As is the case in Xy3 – Nude at the window, it becomes explicit that the spectator has taken up the position behind the glass screen inhabited by Laura’s portrait in Little Foxes; he/she has stepped through the looking glass, entering into the realm of the films themselves and partaking in their hidden games.



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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet