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andrea geyer

Feeding the Ghosts. 2019. Installation with slide projectors, empty slide frames, books, projector stands, speakers, two tables with lamps, library chairs, Teapot with cup, coffee table, sandbags, 60 minute audio voiceover

A complex installation of furniture, slide projections and voice recordings, Feeding the Ghosts continues Geyer's investigation into the inextricable links between art and politics, past and present. Specifically, it reflects on the integral relations of the personal and the political within an artist's work. Based on a live performance lecture Geyer gave at the Dia Art Foundation in September 2018, Feeding the Ghost takes its lead from a work by the Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman titled A Family in Brussels. Akerman, who was born in Brussels in 1950 to Polish Holocaust survivors, is renowned for her significant contributions to avant-garde art and feminist f11mmaking and was influential to Geyer as a young artist. A Family in Brussels is a one hour reading by Akerman that Geyer experienced live at the Dia Art Foundation in October 200I. Observing the life of a woman during the time her husband is dying - it is Akerman's mother's story that inevitably involves the artist - the piece shares similarities with her seminal work Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, I 080 Bruxelles (1975). Feeding the Ghost observes Akerman doing the reading, in which she works through her feeling of the loss of her father and weaves the experience of her family into the larger histories of erasures in Europe. Geyer, in turn, addresses her own experience of loss: on the one hand that of elder artists, but also that of a post 9/ I I New York. She combines Akerman's story with her own viewing of it, weaving together their respective autobiographical details. Other sources that Geyer uses are Akerman's writings, proposals for movies and interviews with her. The resulting text evokes a striking intimacy, constantly shifting subject position from Geyer to Akerman, layering the predecessor over the present artist-and in turn reviving the often-repressed histories addressed in both their work. In Feeding the Ghost, presence and absence exist side by side in the liminal space between the personal and the political, between past and present. "You cannot un-invite the ghosts,'' Geyer reminds us, and proposes art as a site where they can co-exist.




Excerpt of Voice Over:

Je faime, je froid. And then I can still see a big almost empty garage warehouse in New York. With only a woman in it, often smoking or sipping a cup of tea. A woman visiting a city that has just lost a lot, a country that has lost its assumed innocence and prosperity. It's funny but I don't picture this woman in this city, although she did somewhat of a portrait of the city and her in it, with great affection 34 years prior. She looked down alley ways, cars, trash, empty cobblestone streets, the river in the distance, sunset. Scenes in the subway, revealing its colorful steel columns that no doubt inspired Blinky Palermo’s paintings for New York, as least an artist friend thought so. And there are the avenues full of crowds moving, cars moving. New York in its expanse, moving, like her: the young film maker who was spending days at a time at Anthology Film Archive seeing New York avant-garde cinema. She had recently met the cinematographer, she would work with closely for years to come. She liked this woman behind her movie camera very much. She was someone she could trust, she could work with, learn with, make with. A bit older then her, she introduced her not only to the films but the film makers of the avant-garde. They had shot the film about New York together from cars and from tripods rigged up on sidewalks. For the voiceover she reads letters from her mother, now passed. Recounting details of her life back home, a life like any other I hear her say later in an interview.

When I think of this woman, reading in the empty garage about the loss of her father, and the loss of so much in the camps, I remember her voice, somber and present. Taking pauses to light a cigarette from a package on the table in front of her. I also remember my thankfulness for a place for me to be in the midst of a traumatized city. The closest spatial proximity my personal life had ever been to a physical act of war. I often thought about the randomness of one being born in places and at times that do or do not engulf us in war, the randomness of being birthed into trauma. Physically or ideologically.

And what the specificity of this accident calls out in us throughout our lives steered by choices. I had just moved to this city a few years prior, I too was spending days at a time at Anthology Film Archive watching avant-garde film, trying to make sense of this city’s urban landscape through my still camera. Throughout the reading, she takes pauses to drink some tea. She looks up at me with her beautiful light blue eyes. It is the first time I see her in person. When I look at her I feel the uncanny intimacy to her younger self. About my age then when I had encounter her by watching her films and her in it as a young woman writing, reading, cooking, cleaning, polishing shoes, running up stairs to classical music, getting undressed, looking out the window, smoking, eating an apple and making love.

Tonight, she is not here. But her smoky determined voice lingers in our ears. She is like that. Here and not here. From the reading to the book. Something to share. I still listen for her voice. She gets dressed, she puts on some makeup, not too much. Someone comes to pick her up from the apartment and brings her to the space. It is the Australian curator. One of the people she really loves to have a dialogue with. This curator asks questions wonderfully, always in this open way.

The first time she met her, it was the day after a party for one of her films. She had drunk too much the whole night, she’d barely slept. Suddenly the bell rings, she opens the door, and the curator is there. She doesn’t remember any more if she was even supposed to see her. She didn’t even know who she was. This curator is pure in a way without being a purist. And she’s made me think a lot, one of the best thinkers when it comes to art these days.