Johan Grimonprez. Blue Orchids

27 Jan — 11 Mar 2017 at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, United States

Johan Grimonprez. Blue Orchids, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Sean Kelly
Johan Grimonprez. Blue Orchids, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Sean Kelly
13 FEB 2017

Sean Kelly is delighted to present | blue orchids | (2017, 48 min) and Raymond Tallis | on tickling (2017, 8 min), two new films directed by artist Johan Grimonprez. This will be the first presentation of these films in the US and will be Grimonprez’s first exhibition of new work at the gallery since 2009. The opening reception will take place on Thursday, January 26 from 6-8 pm. The artist will be present.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office

(Aesop)

In blue orchids, Grimonprez creates a portrait diptych of two experts on opposite sides of the same issue––the global arms trade. The stories of Chris Hedges, the former war correspondent of The New York Times, and Riccardo Privitera, a former arms & equipment dealer of Talisman Europe Ltd (now dissolved), provide an unusual and disturbing context for shocking revelations about the industry of war. In the process of interviewing individuals for Grimonprez’s recently released feature length film, Shadow World, it became clear that these two men were describing the same anguish but from paradoxical perspectives. One has dedicated his life to unmasking lies and the other has built his life on lies. Making use of both their personal and political histories, Grimonprez gradually reveals the depths of trauma and duplicity, situating the arms trade as a symptom of a profound illness: greed.

blue orchids will be immediately followed by Raymond Tallis | on tickling. In this short film by Johan Grimonprez, Philosopher/Neurologist Raymond Tallis argues that consciousness is not an internal construct, but rather relational. Through the intriguing idea that humans are physically unable to tickle themselves (despite applying the exact same stimulus to the skin as another person would), Tallis explores the philosophical notion that we become ourselves only through dialogue with others.

Grimonprez's work is included in numerous international collections such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; the Kanazawa Art Museum, Japan; the National Gallery, Berlin, Germany; and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. His curatorial projects have been hosted at major museums worldwide such as the Whitney Museum in New York; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in California; The Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany; and the Tate Modern in London, England. Grimonprez achieved international acclaim with his film essay dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y at Documenta X in Kassel, Germany, in 1997, which eerily foreshadowed the tragic events of September 11th in New York. His films have been included in prestigious film festivals around the globe, including New York, Edinburgh, Telluride, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Berlin. In 2016, Grimonprez’s film Shadow World won Best Documentary Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland and at the 61st International Film Festival of Valladolid, Spain. Grimonprez divides his time between Belgium and New York and is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts (New York).