18 September -
24 October 2015
200 Gertrude Street200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Opening: Friday 18 September, 6–8pm
The American Experiment was a new solo exhibition by Australian artist and filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson. Representing a collection of expanded fragments assembled over seventeen years of filmmaking in the United States of America, the exhibition comprised of moving image installation, audio recordings and diagrammatic endeavors to find new graphic representations of cinematic structure.
Courtin-Wilson's exhibition formed part of a new interdisicplinary research focus at Gertrude Contemporary on the ever-mutable documentary form. Where previous interdisciplinary exhibitions had seen Studio Artist Claire Lambe collaborate with dancer and choreographer Atlanta Eke (for the exhibition Miss Universal), The American Experiment specifically explored the intersection of contemporary art and documentary film. Of Courtin-Wilson's exhibition, Director Emma Crimmings says:
Courtin-Wilson's films are not strictly documentary in nature or form, but rather carefully contrived portraits of trauma and survival. Straddling a space somewhere between the real and unimaginable, his work is characterised by its combination of highly authored realist narratives with imagery that is raw, fragile, violent, impressionistic—and oftentimes staggeringly beautiful. By bringing this category-defying and often confronting moving-image work into the gallery, we hope to ignite new ways of interpreting and understanding the increasingly overlapping relationship between contemporary art and the documentary form. Additionally as an organisation that prides itself on risk and experimentation, Gertrude would be remiss if it did not present alternative contexts and structures for a range of new creative voices.
Amiel Courtin-Wilson is an acclaimed, multi-award winning filmmaker. Directing over twenty short and five feature length films, he has also collaborated with Opera Australia, Chunky Move, The Snuff Puppets, and The Black Lung Theatre Company. His video installation work has toured internationally and his films have screened at the National Gallery of Victoria, MONA, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Courtin-Wilson’s feature documentary Bastardywon the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the 2009 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards (FCCA), best documentary at the ATOM Awards, and was nominated for three Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards. His dramatic feature film debut Hailpremiered at the Venice Film Festival and won many international awards, including the Age Critics Award for best Australian feature at the Melbourne International Film Festival. His most recent film Ruin won the Special Jury Prize in the Orrizonti competition of the Venice Film Festival in 2013—the first Australian feature film in twenty years to win an award at Venice. Courtin-Wilson was recently commissioned to create a short film for the 70th Anniversary of the Venice Film Festival as part of a project called Venice Future Reloaded alongside directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Catherine Breillat, Monte Hellman, and Atom Egoyan. In 2014, he received the AFTRS Creative Fellowship grant for Aether, an upcoming feature film about iconic jazz pianist Cecil Taylor.
The American Experiment featured photography and moving-image work from four upcoming feature films including upcoming collaborations with renowned jazz pianist Cecil Taylor and Los Angeles–based filmmaker and artist Rick Charnoski.
Amiel Courtin-Wilson co-wrote and co-produced Rick Charnoski’s visceral debut feature film Warm Blood and the photography featured in the exhibition spans a number of research trips to Modesto California with cast from the film and a mixture of local residents from the tiny Californian town.