Taking Turns press release | David Zwirner

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings and films by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans. This is the first time the artist's films will be shown in the United States, and is also the world premier of Taking Turns.

Taking Turns is the artist's third solo show at David Zwirner. Previous shows at the gallery include Horse Hunting (2006) and Trickland (2003), which was the artist's first solo exhibition in the United States.

For the current show at David Zwirner, Borremans has created five new paintings and is presenting three films: The Feeding, The Storm, and Taking Turns.

For this exhibition, the gallery (519 West 19th Street) has been divided into two relatively equal spaces. Upon entering the first space, a 35mm film projector shows a loop of The Storm as a large-scale projection, reaching close to 15 feet in height and 23 feet in width on the gallery wall. In the film, three black men, wearing identical cream-colored uniforms (a mix of work clothes and stage costumes), are sitting slumped in chairs in the corner of a white, empty room. The harsh light of a naked bulb alters the shot by modifying the intensity of the shadows moving imperceptibly on the surface of the wall.¹ 

The second gallery space introduces an intimate presentation of two other 35mm films, The Feeding and Taking Turns, both which have been transferred to DVDs and viewed within wall-mounted wooden frames. The films are shown alongside the exhibition's five oil on canvas paintings: The Apron, Earthlight Room, The Load, The Load (II), The Load (III).

In The Feeding, the three figures from The Storm reappear, standing around enormous reams of white cardboard that give the impression of levitating above a table covered with a spotless cloth in the middle of a room.² In Taking Turns, a woman holds the torso of a life-sized mannequin, and slowly moves and spins the torso on top of a horizontal surface. There is an ambiguity between what is real and what is artificial, as their two faces and figures overlap and rotate in the film's frames. Once again, the theme of the double, or the doppelganger, is a device encountered throughout Borremans oeuvre.³

Formally and thematically, Borremans' films are closely related to his two-dimensional work. They are shifting 'tableaux vivants' with poetic titles, in which the artist very gradually, with subtle camera work, creates an oppressive atmosphere. He uses a fixed camera position or deliberately zooms in on certain details of the scenery, body parts, faces, or clothing. With slight light-dark fluctuations, flowing edited shots or the repetition of certain actions, Borremans builds up a gripping but subdued suspense.⁴ 

Beginning in April, the work from the exhibition at David Zwirner, along with additional drawings, will be presented at kestnergesellschaft in Hannover, Germany

¹ Philippe-Alain Michaud, "Devil’s Dolls: On the Film-Paintings of Michaël Borremans," Michaël Borremans: Weight (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2008), p. 58.

² Ibid. p. 67.

³ Delfim Sardo, "The Enchanted Wanderer," Michaël Borremans: Weight (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2008), p. 35.

⁴ de Appel Arts Centre, exhibition notes on website

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