If you’ve driven past White Flag Projects lately, you may have noticed our new banner featuring Jeremiah, a print from Tommy Hartung’s recent show Anna at On Stellar Rays in New York. The eponymous film will be on view in White Flag Projects’ new exhibition“Tommy Hartung & Uri Aran”. Hartung’s film takes its inspiration from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina. On the surface the film might appear to have a tentative connection to the source material, as Hartung does not borrow characters or scenes directly from the novel. Through a combination of different film languages, Hartung explores the themes that permeate the novel in a manner that resonates with contemporary societal issues.
Hartung’s actors are dismembered mannequins created from a wide range of materials that evoke the desperation and alienation of the titular Anna Karenina. The mannequins are clothed in a manner recalling the garb of peasants; their labor in the film recalls Tolstoy’s romanticization of the working class. Words like “dejected”, “dismal”, and “haunted” appear frequently in the reviews of the show, reflecting both the material aspect of Hartung’s actors and his eerily lit set, and echoing Hartung’s statement that the film incorporates “a language like that used in horror films.”
In addition to the stop-motion animation of the mannequins, the film includes superimposed clips from the Soviet film Earth and computer simulations, introducing a political element. Hartung’s inclusion of socialist realist clips and crowd imagery comments on the tendency of movements to create a political entity out of certain romantic ideals. The unsatisfied nature of his mannequins seems to point out how little this process serves individuals.
Hartung’s incorporation of varied materials and film styles seems to extend seamlessly into the environment in which the film is viewed. In the exhibition at On Stellar Rays,Anna was accompanied by a selection of sculptural objects that were created from elements of the film’s sets. Hartung utilized mannequin figures, various props, pieces of the set, and a camera track system used for panning shots. As in previous works, Hartung’s creative process is as much a part of the final piece as the film itself, and the viewer is drawn into that process and the unique environment that Hartung has created.
Anna and other works by Tommy Hartung will be on view at White Flag Projects in the exhibition “Tommy Hartung & Uri Aran.” The exhibition will open with a reception from 6-8 PM on Thursday, January 19 and will remain on view until February 18, 2012. For more information on this exhibit and other upcoming events at White Flag, please visitWhite Flag Projects.
(1/17/12 by Stephanie Trimboli, Intern)