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Curator: Krist Gruijthuijsen
Artist: François Ozon
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the flâneur occupied an exploratory position in Paris city life, implying a new bond with the dynamics, the uniformity and the anonymity of modern city life. Charles Baudelaire examined this phenomenon, characterizing the flâneur as a distant and observing figure peculiar to urban culture, yet one who simultaneously abandoned himself to experiencing and reflecting on city life.
Titled Curtain Raiser, the focus here is on this double relationship, only this time round with the help of work by French director François Ozon. This filmmaker is intrigued by the various ways in which a breach occurs in someone’s personal life, and an alternative lifestyle evolves making a transforming moment (of the protagonists) possible. In Ozon’s work, this transformation is the result of an obsessive longing, often leading to a renewed idea of one’s own identity. Ozon translates this process into scenes mostly played out in a single home. Remote, static camera work and balanced picture composition are specific elements of his visual language. This artificial staging gives rise to intriguing and banal situations, and characters flirting with a changing sexual identity, causing shifts in the established balance of power between them.
Curtain Raiser focuses on the short films Ozon made in the early years of his career. They are of great artistic value and can be regarded both as cinema and as visual art. The exhibition is now displaying these original cinematographic works at an art institute and in combination with Rites de Passage. These contextual changes provide opportunities for reinterpreting Ozon’s films in various ways. In the theatre upstairs, films such as Victor (1993) in which, after unsuccessfully attempting suicide, a young nobleman decides to murder his parents and then paint a portrait of them after his own ideal, or La Petite Mort (1995), in which the frustration of paternal neglect leads to a climax on the father’s deathbed, are brought together to evoke a dialogue between the two. In the meantime, lighthearted, absurd sketches from Scènes de Lit (1998) about sexual etiquette in bed echo on the staircase. In 2006, Ozon decided to produce another short film on his own. Un Lever de Rideau is the filming of Montherlant’s play Un Incompris, in which a young man decides to break off the relationship with his girlfriend in a very cruel yet theatrical way.
Besides signifying a short interpretation or a play that takes place just ahead of an event, "A Curtain Raiser" also highlights the symbolic and conceptual framework of the exhibition.