September 6 – October 6, 2007
We are pleased to present Matt Saunders’ Prison Scene, which will be his first show in Scandinavia. Works by the Berlin-based American artist (b. 1975) very often deal with the afterlife (and the on-going life) of films, as well as how the experience of these images – often portraits of people or performances – can be embodied in different material.
The works shown in Martin Asbæk Projects draw on the short-lived 1967 British TV series The Prisoner, which was created by and starred actor, Patrick McGoohan, playing the part of a man who is gassed in his apartment in London and wakes up in an exact replica of that apartment in “the Village” - in fact a prison for people who know too much.
Saunders carries a scene from The Prisoner into painting, video and photography. Together, they enact a kind of entrapment, a sense of being inside of a loop, but also a fascination, a repeated return to the same image (the same footage) to see it in different ways.
A sequence of 8 paintings on mylar are based on photographs of McGoohan taken off the television. The image is painted in oil on the back of the transparent material, while on the front a separate layer of metallic ink serves as a surface, an obstruction and a screen. McGoohan can only be seen behind this silver layer, and behind the material of the mylar. The sequence is non-linear, different freeze-frames shuffled from McGoohan’s movements.
An animated video is made out of several hundred drawings - essentially a drawing of each frame of McGoohan that appears in the sequence from the show that Saunders has set his focus on: a scene in the second-to-last episode of the series in which the warders watch from a control room as they run the sleeping protagonist through a series of “wave-lengths”. In its various permutations, the video highlights and extends the looped-back repetitions of the original, which (for reasons of economy) recycled the same short bits of footage incessantly. The drawings were made, not as copies of the original frames, but as their imagined negatives. They were then inverted for the animation, as if the set of drawings were a strip of negatives, from which the video was “printed.”
A similar process lies behind two black and white photographs – yet again drawn from the same small loop of footage – which were produced by putting drawings between glass and using them directly as negatives to expose the photographic paper. The drawings are used functionally, and their qualities, marks, even a small sense of their materials, now occupy a photographic space.
And so a short sequence from an aging show (a sequence meant to depict the actor observed) passes through and imbeds itself in various materials, repeating and cycling back, as if in a perpetual, claustrophobic loop.