Michel Auder. The World Out of My Hands

18 September – 14 November 2010.

Michel Auder

Michel Auder was born in France in 1944, but he has been living and working in New York since the late 1960s. His oeuvre, both incisive and generous, is now assuming its rightful place in an updated overview of recent art history, thanks to a series of ambitious solo exhibitions and participations in biennials or other larger-scale events.

For more than 40 years, since he bought his first portable video camera in 1969, Michel Auder has been recording, reviewing and releasing electronic footage. The terms ‘chronicle’, ‘portrait’ and ‘voyage’, which he himself uses, capture important aspects of the work. A chronicler knows that he is authoring a particular version of history and that he is not necessarily a reliable source. A good portrait is more than just a record of someone’s distinctive features; it is the result of a process of subjectivation requiring the participation of both artist and model. A voyage, finally, is not always defined by geographic distance or physical displacement.

The World Out of My Hands is the title of a video installation from 2008, a torrent of vision and sound arranged as a non-linear narrative flow. It has been chosen as the title for Michel Auder’s substantial solo exhibition at Lunds konsthall, which comprises some 20 works from the period 1971–2010.

Michel Auder is perhaps best known as a chronicler and portraitist of the artistic circles around Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York in the 1970s. Much of the enormous amount of video footage that he has amassed, several thousand hours all in all, is too sexually or emotionally explicit to be released, he says. In the material that he does release, we often have the impression of watching his own life taking shape as if on an open stage. This only highlights how important selecting and editing is for him. One prime example is The Feature (2007, 180'. Co-director Andrew Neel), a three-hours-long account of Auder's life through selected sequences of earlier films, with a fictional narrative frame. It is shown in collaboration with the Kino cinema theatre in Lund.

It is worth noticing several different approaches to editing in Auder’s work. In the 1980s he made a series of works using re-filmed images from television, reshuffled with nearly obsessive attention to detail. TV America (1986, 22’) represents this body of work in the exhibition. Seduction of Patrick (1979, 28’) indicates another approach to video, where the medium is used to preserve semi-improvised, collectively authored drama. Since the mid-1990s Auder has been releasing longer and shorter sequences from his archive. Chronicles. Chelsea Girls and Andy Warhol 1971–1976 (1994, 73’) and Portrait of Alice Neel 1976–1982 (2009, 120’) are two well-known example of this genre. Along with three other films, they have been subtitled by Lunds konsthall to enhance the understanding of occasionally indistinct soundtracks. The travelogues are important for Auder, demonstrating his command of the extended time-format and represented here by A Personal Narrative of Travels to Bolivia (1997/2010, 11 hours) and Vanuatu Chronicles (1998/2010, 277’). Video images are sometimes compiled into works without narrative sound but with strong visual impact, such as Heads of the Town (various years/2009, 13’). A recent sub-category of such non-verbal montage deploys a more decidedly audio-visual poetics. The World Out of My Hands (2008, 42’) is one such piece. Narcolepsy (2010, 22’) is another, shown as an installation with five partly overlapping projections.

Michel Auder has often been seen capturing other people’s actions, enticing them to behave differently than if their words and gestures had not been translated into footage. But it would be unfair to call him a voyeur. He is always part of the situation, emotionally present and compassionate. He does not register life around him coolly and detachedly. He does not exoticise or alienate. His work gives us room and reason to reflect. It is a precision instrument for observing life and for thinking through – perhaps even coming to terms with – the passage of time.

Curators: Anders Kreuger, Åsa Nacking