People have had a tendency to forget that Philippe and I used to say that we're trying to drag people from the white cube [of art spaces] to the black box and from the black box to the white cube.
We didn't lose sight of this, but it got lost along the way that Philippe and I knew [that] by choosing a subject or model like Zidane, we had the opportunity to really mix things up in terms of the audience. Kids could, in years to come, in turn take their kids to see it at the National Gallery in Scotland or the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris. For kids who have the DVD, that can work the same way that it does when kids who maybe have a postcard of a painting can see the real thing they'll have an affiliation with it.
SFBG How does the installation version of Zidane differ from the cinematic presentation?
DG It's two projections the cinematic one, plus one of the cameras. It seems like a glib deconstruction, but when you see it, it's a different experience, much more demanding. It's almost a forensic detail of how we made [it]; if you troll around to 17 different museums all over the world, you'll see there are 17 different points of view.
Of course, when the one camera is the camera used in the cinematic version, you get this bifocal effect.
SFBG For you to have mentioned Bresson earlier while discussing Zidane is interesting, because the setting and subject matter are not what one would connect to Bresson. Usually when film directors mention him, their work is stylistically aping or imitating him.
DG The cinematography of [1966's Au Hasard] Balthazar was influential. But more so, there's a book Philippe sent to me [Bresson's Notes on the Cinematographer, most recently published in English by Green Integer] that had an impact, in the way he talks about the difference between the model and the actor. This was really clear to us when we were trying to speak about Zidane. People would say he's an actor, and we'd say, "No, he's not, he's a model." He's not playing a role. He's doing his job, but with the awareness of being looked at, and that's very different from the way the actor performs. Some of what Bresson says in his notes almost could have been written specifically for the Zidane film. It's nice to quote Bresson, because he's so unfashionable.
SFBG And so great! Some of the best current movie directors also produce work for art spaces. You've given a lot of thought to the specificity of DVDs and cinemas and gallery or museum installations, so I wanted to ask you about those distinctions.
DG One of the things that Philippe and I were constantly asked [at Zidane's film premiere] was "Were you excited to be working in the cinema?" We weren't more excited than we would be [working] anywhere else. If there's anything that would identify a certain practice of our generation of artists, it is that most of us are working with the exhibition as a format, and the context informs the format while the format interferes with the context. A lot of people don't get that at all. I'm not trying to blow an intellectual trumpet here, but there is a certain amount of practice necessary to understand that. This is why when someone like David Lynch tries to move out of the cinema or TV screen into the gallery, it doesn't work sometimes. The filmmaker might not do enough with the gallery or the museum. *
ZIDANE: A 21ST CENTURY PORTRAIT
Thurs/17Sun/19, 7 p.m.; Sun/20, 2 and 7 p.m. (all screenings sold out except for Sun/20, 2 p.m.)
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room
701 Mission, SF