Marian Goodman Gallery in Paris opens the 2016 season with an exhibition by Steve McQueen. The gallery will present his latest film installation, as well as several new works produced especially for this, his fifth exhibition at the gallery.
The artist’s latest project comprises a wall installation formed of several dozen dark blue neon lights, each a unique handwritten version of the phrase, Remember Me.
Ashes is an immersive work composed of two films projected simultaneously on either side of a free-hanging screen. First is a portrait of Ashes, a young man from Grenada from where the artist’s family also originated. Cracking a mischievous smile and taunting the camera, Ashes is seated at the prow of a boat sailing the Caribbean Sea. The footage was captured during the production of another work, entitled Caribs’ Leap (2002). Shot live on Super 8 film by the renowned cinematographer Robby Muller, the images illustrate the documentary aspect of McQueen’s work.
Ashes’ carefree demeanor and apparent freedom stand in contrast to the content of the second film projected on the other side of the screen and shot eight years later in a Grenada cemetery, in contrast to the idyllic postcard pictures of the Caribbean island. “Life and death have always lived side by side, in every aspect of life,” said McQueen. “We live with ghosts in our everyday.”
The intensity of the piece is derived from the juxtaposition of the two projections (life and death, boundless space and enclosed space) linked by an off-screen voice. McQueen uses a monologue to pull together the threads of a story that are absent from the images. Employing this narrative device, each viewer is rendered a witness to the drama through the oral testimonies of Ashes’s friends.