August 28 2014

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1 posts tagged "Shelly Verthime"

Talking Bourdin and Film With Shelly Verthime


Legendary Paris department store Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is currently playing host to Guy Bourdin, Ses Films, an installation of 15 clips from films Bourdin shot from the 1960′s through the 1980′s. According to Shelly Verthime, who curated the show with Bourdin’s son Samuel, the films operate as both a time capsule and a window onto Bourdin’s creative process. “Making these films, I believe, was part of his obsessive search for the perfect image,” Verthime explains. “You see him experimenting with different angles, different lighting. What we see in those famous photos is the end result of this process, involving so many tiny adjustments.”

Verthime worked with Le Bon Marché to make sure that visitors to Ses Films felt that they were entering Bourdin’s world. The exhibition, which runs through October 29, is housed in a discrete area within the store. Visitors pass through a series of immersive spaces, catching glimpses of video on mirrors, or finding their own shadows reflected on the screen. That experience will surely whet fans’ appetite for the upcoming documentary on Bourdin that Verthime is working with the photographer’s estate to produce. The release date on that film is undecided, but in the meantime, Verthime tells about entering the mind of fashion’s surrealist master.

One of the things you always hear about Guy Bourdin is that his work is “cinematic.” Even when he was shooting an ad campaign, like Charles Jourdan, his photos seemed like stills from a strange movie. There is an implied narrative that you can’t quite figure out. It’s interesting to discover that Bourdin actually shot film as well, but, interestingly, he didn’t seem to use that medium for telling a story.

No, not at all. He wasn’t a “filmmaker,” per se. There’s no artistic ambition. What he liked to do was use the film as a kind of visual notebook. We have two kinds of video in the show: footage he shot on the set, and footage he shot on his journeys, in Martinique, going from London to Brighton, and so on. On the set, you see him taking stills, adjusting the backdrops, working with the models. It’s very intimate. The traveling footage is closer in spirit to what he would do with Polaroids. You see croppings of landscapes, people shot from the legs down. All these angles and compositions he used later.

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