Tuesday's trip to the Chelsea galleries included several highlights, but the real surprise for me was the Chris Marker exhibition at Peter Blum Gallery (526 West 29th Street).
"Chris Marker: Staring Back is an exhibition of almost 200 photographs taken over the course of six decades by the enigmatic and influential French filmmaker. This show, organized by Bill Horrigan at the Wexner Center for the Arts, is the first exhibition of Marker’s photographs, and consists of images selected by the artist himself from his own archive, including black-and-white portraits of individuals that Marker has encountered during the course of his world travels.
Divided into four sections, Staring Back is organized around the idea of the faces Marker has seen in his travels, and of the faces that have in turn witnessed his observant gaze –“I stare” and “They stare,” as Marker puts it. Central to the exhibition are his depictions of political demonstrations from Algerian independence protests in 1962, to the Pentagon march in 1967, to May 1968 in Paris, and continuing to 2006 in a stunning series devoted to the sustained demonstrations by French young people against punitive employment legislation. Interspersed throughout the exhibition are photographic traces of his inimitable films, including La Jetée, Letter from Siberia, The Six Face of Pentagon, Cuba Si!, Le fond de l’air est rouge, Sans Soleil, and The Case of the Grinning Cat, among others. Although some of the portraits depict well-known individuals (such as Simone Signoret and Akira Kurosawa), most are of unidentified citizens to whom Marker and his camera were drawn in the course of his global progress through Asia, South America, Scandinavia, Africa, Russia, and elsewhere. The exhibition also includes a selection of photographs of animals."