Double Bill: Animals And More Animals & Those That, At A Distance, Resemble Another

There will be a post-screening dialogue with Gallery conservator Maria Del Mar Cusso Solano, and Ong Zhen Min, Director of Artwork & Exhibition Management.

Rating: G

ANIMALS AND MORE ANIMALS / UN ANIMAL, DES ANIMAUX

By Nicolas Philibert

France | In French with English subtitles | 1995 | 60 min 16 sec

Southeast Asian Premiere

Filmed between 1991 and 1994, Nicolas Philibert’s Animals and More Animals is an essay on exhibition-making. It examines the restoration, management and installation of the extraordinary collections of the Gallery of Zoology (now Gallery of Evolution) at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. 

Closed to the public for over two decades, the museum was tasked to develop a new approach to categorising and presenting the specimens. This film, structured as a series of encounters with the staff, artefacts and spaces of the museum, focuses on the individual actions that helped to realise the monumental task of re-opening the gallery in 1994. 

Much like artworks, the specimens are cleaned, receive fresh coats of paint, are pinned under glass cases, and even mounted on wooden frames in a bid to make them exhibition worthy. Injecting a dose of humour, the nature of the exhibits gives rise to many tragicomic moments in the film: a conservator cleans a bird exhibit with a feather duster; a taxidermist tames a badger’s menacing snarl with putty; and a gorilla receives hair implants. Animals and More Animals is a fascinating portrait of stewardship and the protective human impetus to halt death.

Animals and More Animals won the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival (1995), as well as Best Research Film at Festival dei Popoli, Florence Italy (1995).

Nicolas Philibert (b. 1951, France) is a French documentary maker. His works include Louvre City (1990) which won Best Documentary at the Prix Europa (1990), and To Be and To Have (2001), which screened at the Cannes Film Festival (2002) and won multiple awards at international film festivals, including Best Film at Prix Louis Delluc (2002). An acclaimed director, Philibert’s work has been the subject of numerous retrospectives organised by institutions such as the British Film Institute and the Museum of Modern Art.

THOSE THAT, AT A DISTANCE, RESEMBLE ANOTHER

By Jessica Sarah Rinland

UK, Argentina, Spain | In Spanish, English and Portuguese with English subtitles | 2019 | 67 min 32 sec | G

Asian Premiere

Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another contemplates the practice of reproduction in conservation work. It offers the viewer a rare glimpse of specialists at work. Anthropologists, ceramicists, archaeologists, curators, and biologists from institutions like the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro are seen handling various objects. 

Director Jessica Sarah Rinland expresses the tactility and intimacy of conservation work by focusing the camera on conservators’ hands as they clean, measure, trace, fabricate and sculpt. Rinland shows how conservators meticulously study artefacts to reproduce them faithfully, and makes the point that they are near embodiments of the original creators by making a ceramic replica of an elephant’s tusk herself. Additionally, she raises the Proustian thought that the copy is perfect and unalterable, and that the original object is a victim of time and reality. This proposition suggests that the iterations created in the museum could be closer to the original idea.

Those That, At A Distance, Resemble Another has been screened at numerous international film festivals, including the Locarno Film Festival (2019) where it garnered a Special Mention. It also won Best Film at Documenta Madrid (2020) and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (2019) and Cinéma du réel (2020).

Jessica Sarah Rinland (b. 1987, United Kingdom) is an Argentine-British artist whose work has been exhibited at numerous international film festivals, including the Locarno Film Festival, Viennale, and the BFI London Film Festival. Her works have garnered awards such as the Gil Omenn Art & Science Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival (2014), the Institute of Contemporary Arts Award for Best Experimental Film at the London Short Film Festival (2013) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts (2017). Her residencies include the Film Studies Center at Harvard University and Somerset House Studios.

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