Never~Ending Story

l'Histoire Sans Fin

for images clickNEVER ENDING STORY : 

a work in progress 2014.

Film posters,glue,acrylic paints,inks. approx, 100 images circa 70x120cm


After moving my studio to Grand Bassam (Ivory Coast) in January 2013, through a series of extraordinary circumstances I was able to salvaged a large number of semi~destroyed Film Posters from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s which had been found in a local deposit and were about to be burnt.

All the films had been shown in  Ivory Coast cinemas and were foreign productions , originating in Europe, the United States and Asia.They were all what would be regarded as 'commercial' films, guaranteed to seduce a large cinema~going public: hence romance,war, gangster, western and martial arts were popular. Action and Romance!

Printed on paper eaten away by time,often  faded, a vast community of characters came alive in these refound  film posters ~ a cosmopolitan passing parade of 'stars'  dancing, romancing, and gun toting; another pantheon of desirable (and dangerous) heros and anti heroes, many of the faces famous twenty,thirty or forty years ago, yet perhaps not known by todays' younger public.

Through a process of collage, recuperating one of the great art innovations of the twentieth century, by cutting and pasting cinematic memories, layering them side~by~side or over each other, those same memories merged, became confused, and started to tell me   different stories.

This is much the same as what our memories do, over time. They change, tranform, tell things in a different way.

Collageapplied in this body of work also eliminates the possibility of revisiting the images 'as they were' thus denying the possibility of a voyage into Nostalgia.

Collage reminds us of Reality's multi~layered interpretations , of fragmentations, and accentuates the delicious falsities.

Through the application of white paint ~ whitewashing ~ parts of the images are concealed while other parts may either filter though, as if through a series of veils. A face may appear more boldly in places where the white has not been applied.

So for the viewer, the act of seeing this work is as if gazing through a mesh, peering 'into' memory chambers,  certain things surface and others recede.

You, the viewer, may find yourself searching for what you may recognize or remember. But nothing is static, least of all memory. Your memory will have altered and mysterious  changes may have happened, out of your conscious control ; for example, in these works some of your favorite American film stars may have even changed color , telling a different story: a story about how Hollywood might have been back then.

These collages offer up infinite possibilities of what the story is, or might have been, in a sense stripping the posters of much of the original power within the film industry and replacing it with a sense of wonder. They tell a ''what if?'' story.

What emerges is also how much the Ivorian public viewed imported films during those decades in the many cinemas in Abidjan, Grand Bassam and beyond. So these works are also about this specific place, about the Ivory Coast: Because all these movie stars once appeared in a cinema near you! 

Bruce Lee was popular,Jane Fonda, Isabel Huppert, Denzel Washington, Bette Midler, Liam Neeson and Marcello Mastroianni, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Gerard Depardieu and a constellation of other International  'global' stars: they are all here, alongside Bollywood actors ,Spaghetti Westerners,Tarzan, Dracula, Superman and Chinese martial arts it was a very international smorgasbord being presented, and all in the French language.

Everything mixed up in a cosmopolitan pot~pourri !

Unlike today, where people look at cinema on line, and youtube or Netflix can bring films from all over the world to you for free on your personal computer, the stardust being sprinkled was enjoyed collectively in the large purpose built cinemas, so many of which, here in West Africa, have now been converted into charismatic churches or ministries.

Virginia Ryan, Grand Bassam January 2014

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