Claes Söderquist (b 1939) is a prominent figure of Swedish experimental film whose visually appealing and personal films revolve around slow cinematic reflections on architecture, landscape, strata, time and space. With influences from and interests in Land-Art, minimalist music (like Charlemagne Palestine) and structural film processes, Söderquist's dystopian and desolate scenery is sometimes reminiscent of the films by Michael Snow and Larry Gottheim.
As a film curator, Söderquist has made several comprehensive exhibitions at Moderna Museet in Stockholm: “'The Pleasure Dome', American Experimental Film 1939-1979” (1980, in collaboration with Jonas Mekas), “Nordic Film” (1983), West German Experimental Film” (1985, in collaboration with Birgit Hein) and Swedish Avantgarde Film 1924-1990” (1991, touring program in US in collaboration with Jonas Mekas and Anthology Film Archives, New York).
In the presence of Claes Söderquist.
by Martin Grennberger (Walden Magazine) and Daniel A. Swarthnas (Cinema Parenthèse)
I FRACK (IN TUXEDO)
1964 | 16mm | b&w | sound (no dialogue) | 11'19
In Söderquist's first film In Tuxedo, playfulness and improvisation are combined with absurd humor. An artist steps into an empty studio and begins assembling objects into a tree-like sculpture. The sculpture is adorned with small white paper clouds, puppets and undefinable items; all the while, the studio fills up with new things: a suitcase, a mirror and formal attire. The artist, now wearing a top hat and tuxedo, paints the paper clouds and the wall in a frenzy of activity, ending with his sitting exhausted in a corner surrounded by the mess he has created. The growing chaos, the various layers of narrative and the free improvisational music, which was improvised and recorded live during a viewing of the final film cut, interact in counterpoint. (Daniel A. Swarthnas)
UTFLYKT: OPUS 2 (EXCURSION: OPUS 2)
1965 | 16mm | b&w | sound (no dialogue) | 9'17
In the prologue of Excursion:Opus 2, the camera sweeps over nearly unidentifiable details on a sleeping man's body, mixed with discontinuous images of the morning routines of two people and their preparation for an excursion. Subtle sounds of wind blowing are orchestrated with squalling, inarticulate cries and sounds of birds and croaks of birds and frogs. The couple cycle through a dense forest, climb amongst ferns, and kiss to tones of classical music (without being overtly obvious or romantic) alloyed with birdsong, which gradually distorts into more psychedelic and ghastly noise. Close-ups of the romantic couple, camera shots that follow the cyclists' rush through the woods, and the couple struggling through the dense and almost unreal vegetation of bush and tangled pine, are woven together in an intense montage of dream-like and unworldly atmosphere. (Daniel A. Swarthnas)
LE GÉNIE CIVIL
Claes söderquist & Jan håfström
1967 | 16mm | b&w | sound (no dialogue) | 11'13
Le génie civil consists of numerous etchings and photogravure prints from an engineering journal, illustrating the advancement of industrialism in the late 1800's. The filmed illustrations are allowed to speak for themselves as still images during a prolonged cinematic time, a kind of viewing time. In a reciprocal and dense interaction with sounds from trains, rain, thunder, a ticking clock and organ music, the material is brought to life and the narrative of the film slowly emerges. Because the images in Le génie civil are taken out of their original context and placed in another time and space, they link the past with an ongoing present. (Daniel A. Swarthnas)
1981 | 16mm | b&w/color | sound (no dialogue) | 27'00
In Epitaph, landscape has partly taken the place of man. The film can be described as a psychodrama about loss and of the expanding toil of memory. Here a recurring space is strongly reminiscent of the setting of Michael Snow’s structuralist classic Wavelength (1967) – a film that has significantly influenced Söderquist. It constitutes a place for recovery that serves as a foil for the mythical, poetical shards and fragments of memory that are repeated through the film. A man lies naked on a sarcophagus-like concrete foundation, later to be covered by a white piece of cloth; the second part shows a blurred, naked woman looking out towards an area of deforestation. The movie ends with an image of a steppe, creating an anxious framework. Epitaph is, in Söderquist's own words, a film "about people and things heading for annihilation". (Martin Grennberger)
1985-1987 | 16mm | color | sound (no dialogue) | 36'00
Landscape is Söderquist's first minimalistic film. Together with Passages – Portrait of a city (2001) and Labyrinth (2013), it forms a trilogy exploring space by means of the landscape and the city. The slow camera shots show the inertia of nature and the temporality of thoughtfulness. The film is cut in motion to give a coherent structure of movement, a kind of course of events, through a multifaceted landscape of rich ferns, swaying treetops, winding roots alternated with reflections in a rippling stream. Landscape is a focused and tightly formed panorama, whose masterly projection of natural sound and cyclical construction are manifested in seasonal color and light variations and in flowing water. (Daniel A. Swarthnas)
between Claes Söderquist, Daniel A. Swarthnas and Martin Grennberger
In collaboration with Cinema Parenthèse (Bryssels Belgium), Filmform – the art film & video archive (Stockholm Sweden), and Walden Magazine (Stockholm, Sweden)
This event will take place in Wolf Studio located at Wildenbruchstraße 6.
Eptaf - Claes Söderquist