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Finisterre

Finisterre exhibited in Can Art Save Us? at Millenium Gallery Museum

Finisterre (Installation)

Finisterre Installation images from Coasting exhibition in Nottingham Castle Museum. Photo by Bevis Bowden

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Finisterre at Ferens Art Gallery

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Can Art Save Us? at Millennium Gallery Museum

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5kZ51MqlMg

http://www.fvu.co.uk/projects/detail/commissions/finisterre

“Finisterre”
Commissioned to accompany a touring exhibition of the coastal paintings of Turner and Bonington, Gemma Pardo’s video ‘Finisterre’ explores the ever-changing threshold between land and sea, oscillating slowly between stillness and motion, while equally delicately poised between attentive, durational observation and a state of almost dream-like drifting.

Set at two different points along the English Channel, and filmed from both above and below the surface of the water as the tide first fills and then retreats from the frame, ‘Finisterre’ dissolves between two contrasting but emblematic scenes. As if highlighting the formative imprint of the maritime topography of her homeland in Galicia in Spain, Pardo begins with a view of an isolated, rugged shoreline (near Swanage, in Dorset). Then, in a seamless sleight-of-hand, as the rising water submerges the camera, she deposits us further down the coast, where glimpses of waterside industry can be seen in the background, as the camera resurfaces, and our eyes adjust, as if suddenly waking, to the pale, white glare of the sky. Weighing the turbulent cycles of tide and light against the elemental stillness of the land (and the fleeting traces of human activity), Pardo’s video is a subtle meditation on our complex relationships with the natural environment, and our subjective experience of place.

Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Nottingham Castle. Supported by Arts Council England

  • Finisterre Installation images from Coasting exhibition in Nottingham Castle Museum. Photo by Bevis Bowden

  • Finisterre Installation images from Coasting exhibition in Nottingham Castle Museum. Photo by Bevis Bowden

      Edit from the link http://www.fvu.co.uk/projects/detail/commissions/finisterre/finisterre-installation-images/show-gallery#show

    Commissioned to accompany a touring exhibition of the coastal paintings of Turner and Bonington, Gemma Pardo’s video ‘Finisterre’ explores the ever-changing threshold between land and sea, oscillating slowly between stillness and motion, while equally delicately poised between attentive, durational observation and a state of almost dream-like drifting.

    Set at two different points along the English Channel, and filmed from both above and below the surface of the water as the tide first fills and then retreats from the frame, ‘Finisterre’ dissolves between two contrasting but emblematic scenes. As if highlighting the formative imprint of the maritime topography of her homeland in Galicia in Spain, Pardo begins with a view of an isolated, rugged shoreline (near Swanage, in Dorset). Then, in a seamless sleight-of-hand, as the rising water submerges the camera, she deposits us further down the coast, where glimpses of waterside industry can be seen in the background, as the camera resurfaces, and our eyes adjust, as if suddenly waking, to the pale, white glare of the sky. Weighing the turbulent cycles of tide and light against the elemental stillness of the land (and the fleeting traces of human activity), Pardo’s video is a subtle meditation on our complex relationships with the natural environment, and our subjective experience of place.

    Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Nottingham Castle. Supported by Arts Council England.

 http://www.fvu.co.uk/projects/detail/commissions/finisterre/finisterre-installation-images/show-gallery#show

news-finisterre-shefield

Finisterre installation at Can Art Save Us? exhibition at the Millennium Art Gallery

Edit from the review Artists on the Channel Shore by Nicholas Alfrey. Web link http://www.nottinghamvisualarts.net/articles/200904/artists-channel-shore

A review of Coasting: Turner and Bonington on the Shores of the Channel and Finisterre at Nottingham CastleThroughout the run of Coasting: Turner and Bonington on the Shores of the Channel the sound of the sea surged through the exhibition gallery at Nottingham Castle. Its source was the soundtrack of Finisterre, a video by the young London-based Spanish artist Gemma Pardo, shown as a continuous projection in an adjacent room. It was commissioned jointly by Film and Video Umbrella and the Castle specifically to accompany the exhibition, and the result was perhaps the most effective bringing together of historical and contemporary work since Mariele Neudecker’s simultaneous video records of sunrise and sunset were shown alongside  paintings by Turner at the Tate in 2004.Pardo first attracted attention with her video Congo at the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition in 2007, a work that, like her new piece, combined images of a tidal shore with glimpses of industry. The proposal for Finisterre was already under consideration as a project for Film and Video Umbrella before Nottingham Castle became involved, though the artist reportedly then became excited by the implications of the new context for her work. But Finisterre is all the more compelling for not being conceived as a self-conscious dialogue with Turner. Neither does it make any easy claim to offer a modern equivalent to his vision by using a new visual technology. The structure she has adopted for her film, however, makes it singularly appropriate as a companion piece to Coasting. It is divided into two sections of equal length: an elemental first part filmed on a rocky shore contrasting with a second half full of indications of industry and modern maritime activity. This is a neat echo of the suggestion in Coasting that artists in the early nineteenth century tended to perceive the French coast as timeless and picturesque, and the south coast of England as dynamic and progressive.

Gemma Pardo; 'Finisterre', 2008 (film still) Courtesy the artist

Gemma Pardo; ‘Finisterre’, 2008 (film still)

“…The possibility that there might be a narrative underpinning Bonington’s watercolour of cliff and beach brings us back to Pardo’s Finisterre. Could there be some kind of narrative implied in the shift from the first sequence of the film to the second? The relationship between the two halves is richly suggestive. For the first eleven minutes or so, we see the tide coming in on a rocky shore, evidently from the point of view of a fixed camera. At first our view of the cliff beyond and a section of horizon is relatively uninterrupted, but as the waves press in ever more insistently our position is gradually overwhelmed. There are a series of brief glimpses beneath the waters, as if we are experiencing vicariously what it would be like to drown. But as the glimpses of the underwater world become more and more extended, revealing sea-wrack dancing slowly in a blue-green light, a strangely reassuring calm seems to replace those first fearful impressions.The second sequence reverses the movement of the first, in that we begin beneath the waves and gradually emerge into the air and light. The rocky coast has been replaced by a low-lying estuary, however, and one by one we identify signs of engineering and industry by the waterside, and then various forms of maritime activity. We have returned from the depths of the sea into a mundane environment, but it feels less like a recovery of life than the loss of something indefinable. We have experienced some kind of sea-change, as if in an inverted version of The Tempest. Whereas the shipwrecked protagonists of Shakespeare’s play imagine themselves drowned and recover consciousness on a magical island, here we have lost sight of elemental rock and water in order to be re-born in a grey, unwelcoming mechanical world.

Finisterre
, meaning literally the end of the earth, is a powerfully evocative name. Cape Finisterre marks the westernmost point of Spain in Pardo’s native province of Galicia, and her first idea was to film here and in that other European Finisterre, the most westerly part of Brittany, as well as at Land’s End in Cornwall. In the event, when the commissioning process brought Nottingham’s Coasting exhibition into the frame as well, filming was re-located to the south coast of England and ‘Finisterre’ now signifies not a literal geographical location but a symbolic domain, somewhere at the threshold between land and sea.The first part of the film was made at Winspit Bay in Dorset, on the Isle of Purbeck. Turner himself had found one of the most striking subjects in his Southern Coast project at Lulworth Cove, just a few miles further west. (In 1826, incidentally, he had ventured as far as the tip of Finisterre in Brittany, the most westerly point in Europe he ever reached in a lifetime of travelling). The second location was a tributary of Southampton Water, a place Turner never seems to have depicted, for all his interest in ports, harbours and shipping.Pardo’s project has the effect of complicating in interesting ways some older ideas of identity, place and national allegiance: a Spanish artist making a work on the southern coast of England, the title of which inescapably evokes locations on the opposite shore. In the context of Coasting, this could hardly be more appropriate, since it helps to shift the way we respond to Bonington away from the kind of schematic discussion that has tended to dominate earlier accounts of his work and its influence. Could he be properly regarded as an English or a French artist? Into which school does his work best fit, and which national side could he be said to be playing for? But the world in which we now respond to the theme of the channel coast is no longer as simple as it was in Bonington’s and Turner’s day. Turner at first regarded the south coast of England as a potential theatre of war, and Bonington’s French shore scenes were themselves a sign of a period of renewed commerce and exchange between formerly antagonistic nations. But the channel can no longer be thought of as a clearly demarcated frontier, and it is not the least of the merits of Pardo’s intervention into scenes from an earlier history that it draws attention to this uncertainty.Coasting: Turner and Bonington on the Shores of the Channel and Gemma Pardo’s Finisterre were at Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, 15 November 2008 – 15 February 2009
Review in  A n  http://www.a-n.co.uk/p/500531

‘Finisterre’ looks a funny, archaic word. In fact it comes from the old world misconception that the far western tip of Spain was finis terre: the end of the Earth.

Cape Finisterre, NW Spain, has been in the news more recently due to its name change in order to avoid confusion in the shipping forecasts. Until 2002, both Britain and Spain used ‘Finisterre’ but for different waters. So in Spain, Finisterre became FitzRoy.

This quirky anecdote may ring a bell, Finisterre’s currently referenced on billboards across the UK in what has been one of the most expensive advertising campaigns ever, announcing Norwich Union’s name change to Aviva.

Finisterre is also the title of a film currently showing at Nottingham Castle courtesy of Film and Video Umbrella (www.fvu.co.uk) who continue to work with artists and venues to produce sterling work despite the stormy seas of recession.

Gemma Pardo, the artist who made this particular film, is Spanish born and so, one imagines, the laden term ‘Finisterre’ has solid resonance with her.

At Nottingham Castle Pardo’s Finisterre is projected onto a large screen that is found in a side room adjacent to a show of Turner paintings and Turner-inspired drawings. In effect you watch Pardo’s film with your back to Turner and his legacy, not out of disrespect but in order to give the film its due attention.

Indeed time is requested – the film is about 20 minutes long. As I watched the film a steady stream of visitors passed on by until a toddler of about 4 years old nudged me up the viewing bench. Before long he commented aloud to his pram pushing father – a silhouette stood some way back from the screen’s light: ‘But daddy, it’s just a film of the sea.’ On one level Finisterre is just that but, along with the childlike view I also have a teenage enthusiasm for the visual arts tempered by a cynicism that is middle aged before its time. So my summary is that this film ‘of the sea’ actually has an abject, rugged beauty that, arguably, only art ever achieves.

This is what’s called a meditative film – in it, the only action is that dictated by nature as sea kisses land at some craggy coastline. The only sound is the swirl and splash of water. The only memorable moment is when a vague but still wondrous sunlight, muted by heavy cloud cover, just starts to break through and hit that always beguiling horizon.

Pardo’s shot selection is engaging for its starkness. There are only two shots: the close-up of coastline; and a look out to sea. In both, the camera is set down at sea level. It is an unusual viewpoint. The coastline shot seems to have been filmed at a pivotal time of day as the tide comes in and water splashes the camera leaving globules on the lens face. The random play of nature builds and water ultimately immerses the camera, revealing a murky marine life.

There is no beginning, middle or end to this film but it’s worth watching from start to finish. It’s subtle. And like good art of this contemplative kind, it has the potential to prompt in your mind visions of poesy. It is the polar opposite to the ‘faster’ formats of TV advertising or music video that depend on ever more flash-cuts and edits per minute. The only rhythm in Finisterre is the soporific beat as water laps against land.

If you watch with an open mind then Finisterre’s apparent nothingness conjures something up. Yes, the film only shows ocean, earth, the tidal cycle, the horizon… ‘Just a film about the sea’. Yet the aforementioned list, arguably, contains everything: water expresses life; earth stands for evolution; the tidal cycle conjures up time itself and the incomprehensible machinations of our vast universe of delicately balanced planets… and the horizon, well the horizon is a synonym for ‘that place, that space’ that artists can take us to in so many ways – overtly, simply, naturally in Pardo’s film.

Of course, the film also leads back to Turner. In particular there’s a point in the film when a powerful sun, stymied by thick cloud, starts to break through. Many viewers will see those few seconds, more than the film as a whole, as a ‘21st Century Turner’.

Of course, it doesn’t matter whether Turner would use film if he were alive today or if he would still be as enamoured with picturing sea spray and mist and light. It doesn’t matter because this is Pardo’s film and the resonance with Turner, naturally felt given the context of concurrent shows, is really neither here nor there.

After Nottingham, Finisterre will dock in two further venues: 28 Feb – 3 May at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; 17 May – 30 Aug at Hastings Art Gallery.

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Outonarte Catalogue

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Outonarte Catalogue