Film Fest Gent Javier Téllez

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S.M.A.K. and Film Fest Gent are joining forces on the occasion of the 50th festival edition and together they are presenting several projects. The museum will show 'Caligari und der Schlafwandler', a film work from the permanent collection directed by Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez.

As the title suggests, Javier Téllez’s Caligari und der Schlafwandler (Caligari and the Sleepwalker) was inspired by Robert Wiene’s classic silent film Das Kabinet des Dr Caligari (1920). In this masterpiece of German expressionist cinema, a hypnotist (Dr Caligari) turns a man (Cesare) into a murderous sleepwalker. Téllez’s version is less violent. His Dr Caligari has a miraculous and therapeutic conversation with Cesare, an emissary from the planet Slave Star who is also sleepwalker. Their dialogue and scenes are written in chalk on handheld blackboards. As actors, Téllez chose to work with people with a mental vulnerability or impairment.

When making a film, Javier Téllez often uses the same methodology. For each new undertaking, he searches for a local psychiatric centre that is open to a collaboration. He then selects films that relate to the main ideas of the project. After a series of intensive casting sessions with the centre’s residents, Téllez will organise a series of group workshops. He screens the relevant films, discusses them, and works with the group on a new script. Téllez eventually films the scenes and involves his cast in the editing process.

Caligari und der Schlafwandler is a cinematic collage of staged dialogues and documentary interviews by and with individuals who are usually invisible to society. What are the potential meanings of reality, imagination and perception? What is disturbed, healthy, normal or abnormal? In an intriguing mix of fantasies and facts, the actors and director jointly unfold reality’s numerous possibilities and penetrate our categorical thinking about normality.

Javier Téllez (b. 1969, Valencia) is a Venezuelan artist who lives and works in New York. He is regularly invited to show his work in major international museums and institutions. During the past decade he has had solo exhibitions at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery (2018); San Francisco Art Institute (2014); Kunsthaus Zurich (2014); and S.M.A.K., Ghent (2013), amongst other venues. He has also exhibited in documenta, Kassel (2012); Manifesta, Trento; the Whitney Biennale, New York; and the Sydney Biennale (2008). He received the Global Mental Health Award for Innovation in the Arts from Columbia University, New York, in 2016.

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