Chris Marker: A Grin Without a Cat

From the 16th April until the 22nd June, the Whitechapel Gallery will be hosting ‘A Grin Without a Cat’, an exhibition of multimedia pieces by the  filmmaker Chris Marker, and a series of talks on the enduring significance of his work.

Visionary French filmmaker Chris Marker (1921–2012) created vivid film-essays that lace realism with science fiction and lyricism with politics. Changing his name, declining to be photographed or interviewed, Marker was both enigma and legend. His influence extends across art, experimental film and mainstream cinema: his 1962 masterpiece La Jetée was the basis of Terry Gilliam’s 1995 Twelve Monkeys.

A photographer and director of 60 films, Marker was an inveterate traveller – his camera was his eye. His astonishing range of footage can encompass a temple in Tokyo devoted to cats to frozen flowers in a Siberian science station. Marker pictures our cultural rituals, ancient and modern – visiting a shrine, playing video games, protesting on the streets. He splices his images with found footage including fragments of movies, cartoons, ads and newsreels. Musical scores are interwoven with the noises of everyday life; haunting commentaries are narrated as if from the future, meditating on history and memory. ‘I compare dreaming to cinema and thinking to television’.

Darkness also underlines Marker’s portrayals of planetary cultures – memories of war ravaged France, the brutalities of colonialism, the failures of revolution. This exhibition takes us on a journey through the themes that absorbed him –the museum, travel, film, revolution and war. We also encounter portrayals of his friends including Christo, Roberto Matta and Andrei Tarkovsky. Great classics such as Statues Also Die (1953), Le Joli Mai (The Merry Month of May) (1962), A Grin Without a Cat (1977), Sans soleil (Sunless) (1982), Zapping Zone (Proposals for an Imaginary Television) (1990–94), alongside photographs and bookworks offer a sequence of multi-media environments saturated with sound and image.

Admission to the exhibition is free. More details can be found on the Whitechapel Gallery’s website.

As part of the exhibition, the gallery will be hosting two symposia on the 10th of May and 14th June, featuring a series of presentations, screenings and discussions, responding to the theme of memory, and illustrating how the concept is interwoven throughout Marker’s life and work, organized with and supported by the Memory Network. Speakers include Holly Aylett, Magnus Bärtås, Raymond Bellour, Chris Darke, Richard Hollis, Filipa César, Brian Dillon, Jeremy Millar and Daniel Potter.

Bookings for these events can be made through the links below: