Upon his death in 1972, the American filmmaker Jerome Hill established the Camargo Foundation – a cultural center located in southern France that supports the study of French culture and provides a residency program for artists. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea from a small fishing village named Cassis, which boasts 300 sunny days a year, the Foundation sits near the base of France’s Provence region, whose famous light has captivated generations of painters, from Cezanne to Van Gogh, Matisse, and Seurat. Magic Lantern’s “Resisting Paradise” combines four works of experimental film and video made by artists affiliated with the Foundation to explore how different artists have sought to capture, refract, or even resist Cassis’s alluring shimmer. Pairing a feature-length documentary by the acclaimed American avant-garde filmmaker, Barbara Hammer, with three short works, this program presents views from the Foundation’s paradisiacal environs, while also posing questions about the meaning of paradise in times of struggle.
“The Canaries,” Jerome Hill, 1969, 16mm, color, sound, 4 min.
Live-action footage taken around the artist’s property in Cassis is overlaid with hand-painted effects, and paired with a musical score composed by Hill himself. Hill spent his summers painting in Cassis, where he also developed his interest in filmmaking. A truly versatile artist, he began composing music for his own films in the late ‘60s.
“Cassis,” Jonas Mekas, 1966, 16mm, color, sound, 4.5 min.
“I was visiting Jerome Hill [in Cassis]… My window overlooked the sea… The sun was doing wonderful things on the surface of the sea… I thought I began understanding Seurat: Seurat was a realist painter… I decided to place my Bolex exactly at the same angle of light as Seurat’s, and film the same view, from morning till after sunset… a few frames every few minutes.” – JM
“Resisting Paradise,” Barbara Hammer, 2003, 16mm, color, sound, 80 min.
A provocative inquiry into the role of the artist during wartime, Hammer’s Resisting Paradise was begun in 1999 while she was an artist-in-residency at the Camargo. Though she originally went to Cassis to study the light of Provence, the outbreak of the Kosovo War led her to question the value of such abstract pursuits, and to begin a search for the “historical and political reality” existing beneath the surrounding landscape (BH). Projecting these concerns backward through history, Resisting Paradise turns to the lives of Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard to examine the divergent practices of artists and Resistance fighters living in the south of France during WWII, blending captivating formal experiments with rare archival documents and interviews with former Resistance workers.
“Fall (3 Parts),” Leighton Pierce, 2002, video, color, sound, 13 min.
Shot in 2001 while Pierce was in residency at the Camargo Foundation, Fall (3 Parts) was produced as part of a series of highly crafted, poetic videos concerning “the shifting perceptions of place and displacement precipitated by the events of September 11th and the following war.” This particular work centers on a “struggle to hold on to the world, the various worlds we try to inhabit.” –LP