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Piece de cinema

Ines Lechleiter

Ines Lechleitner's Pièce de Cinéma comprises images, sound and text which follow Isabelle Oglivie, a young mentally handicapped woman who is engaged in making a film. Lechleitner, as Isabelle's assistant as well as her chronicler, accompanies Isabelle as she discusses her film project with filmmakers, artists and philosophers, and documents her approaches to image-making and language.

Through ten chapters, each of which comprises an audio segment, a printed text and a series of photographs, Pièce de Cinéma approaches the absent film medium, as well as photography, drawing, and language, in a protean meditation on representation and image-making.

Pièce de Cinéma is a portrait of Isabelle Oglivie and of her absent film, but structurally it functions by de-constructing the medium of film itself. While film has the capacity to unite disparate media – the photographic, the verbal and the audio – Lechleitner has carefully combed the synaesthesia of film into individual strands. The viewer listens to the audio on headphones while turning the corresponding pages of the book where text and photograph interact. The text, in turn, meticulously charts not just the recorded conversations between Isabelle and her interlocutors, but also the ambient and environmental sounds such as rain, bells, cats, cars and strangers in the street. The words are positioned both across and up and down the strata of the page like a musical score, with each sound strain written in its own register.

Listening, watching and reading, however, the viewer begins to notice that the precise correspondence between word, text and image is illusory: the notation of the text occasionally slips and elides a sound that the ear hears; the images, sometimes functioning as a companion to the text, just as frequently magnify an unnoticed detail of the unseen recorded scene. And, while at moments the photographs continue Isabelle's word-play and associations, at others they provide us with empty rooms, an abandoned chair, the objects Isabelle has seen: views that are fragments of another angle of the represented moment, or indeed show a slightly different moment altogether, the chair just vacated, its pillows still warm. This fragmentary quality serves to gently remind the viewer of our mediated experience, ellipses that come to stress the shifting incompletion at the core of our experience of others as well as our presentation of ourselves.

Text: Eleanor Atwood Gibson