ellen cantor december 9, 2016 – january 28, 2017

A noted figure from the 90′s gender identity discourse in New York’s transformative era under Rudolph Giuliani, Ellen Cantor emerged with an unapologetic language, colliding intimate and collective sources with a sado-masochistic tone – Cantor will end up playing the maid in Pinochet Porn, 2008-16, the last film that she has directed.

 

Back in Winter 1998, Ellen Cantor embarked in the epic production of Remember Me, 1998, single video channel, color, sound, 10 minutes 25 seconds, an elegant filmic collage succeeding the more ghastly Within heaven and hell, 1996 *, a metaphorical sequel about her agonizing break up with a lover and art figure from Zurich. The propensity of Ellen Cantor to universalize a very intimate problematic through the use of mainstream cinematographic  quotations is remarkably effective, to the point of delusional melting with these references. During an extensive stay with English artist and DJ Michael Sayles in rundown Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, Ellen immersed herself in the archives of Videodrom and Negativeland, rare and excellent film resources in pre-internet Berlin. First shown in 1999 at XL Xavier LaBoulbenne, New York, the monumental single projection strikes as a departure from the distanced film appropriation used by her contemporaries such as Douglas Gordon and Johan Grimonprez, the tone is extremely intimate, the editing rhythm singular to a point of dramatic sensuality, thus the artist distances herself from the crude self-representation of post-feminism against polished iconography as in the work of Carolee Schneemann.

 

Trevis Jeppesen writes: “In Remember Me (1999), Cantor smartly and movingly homes in on Antonioni’s L’Aventura, the bizarre tale of a romance that blooms from a woman’s disappearance. Against a devastatingly beautiful Mediterranean backdrop, Cantor’s voice warns: “The sea is an element devoid of loyalty. Do not trust it, or it will end by submerging you.” Tragedy—the torrents it produces and the ways in which we navigate them—is, in the end, what gives a life its substance” .*

 

Remember Me is the first solo exhibition in Berlin of Ellen Cantor, deceased in 2013, following a solo-presentation with XL Xavier LaBoulbenne at Art Forum Berlin in 1996. Recent solo-exhibitions and projections include Participant inc; New York; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart; Museum of Modern Art, New York; ICA London; Maccarone, Foxy Production and 80WSE galleries, New York.

 

* Roberta Smith, New York Times, November 29, 1996

* Trevis Jeppesen, Art in America, July 2016