press release

Mireille Mosler, Ltd. is pleased to announce L’Atalante, Karen Yasinsky’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, presenting animations and drawings in which Yasinsky revives Jean Vigo’s 1934 cinematic masterpiece of the same title. With an interest in memory, the re-construction of narrative and re-creation of character, Yasinsky uses film stills from L'Atalante as starting points for the works. The stills serve as residual, emotional documents, stripped from the film.

In the stop-motion animation La Nuit (6 minutes), shown as a projected single-channel video installation, Yasinsky depicts the dark and strange evening of willful separation between the newlyweds Juliette and Jean. La Nuit cuts between the characters in their separate beds; the actors replaced by Yasinsky’s dolls, lacking any inherent emotion or history. Like a cartoon strip, a narrative is reconstituted from a succession of disconnected images and sounds.

In contrast to La Nuit, the exhibition will include the drawing animation Le Matin (2-1/2 minutes), shown on a television monitor. In this video, Yasinsky reiterates an opening sequence from the film where Jean and Juliette leave the church and walk to the barge. The animation reveals a childlike happiness in their movements and in the drawing style. The ending attempts to define the characters and their choices in the film, turning L'Atalante into a strange, super-abbreviated cartoon with one final fantastic scene.

Two other drawing animations, Jean and Juliette and Jules and Juliette, shown on flatscreen monitors, explore each one film still and are completely removed from the narrative. They grew from the process of redrawing every frame, 24 images per second, with which Yasinsky experimented in Le Matin. In Jules and Juliette (4 minutes 40 seconds loop), the tattooed upper-body of the boatsman leans over Juliette’s reclining figure. In redrawing a single, isolated frame, the image does not freeze but becomes animated. The nervous agitation of the drawn line emphasizes the subject matter of the chosen stills. Both threatening and sexually charged, the characters seem caught in the eternal loop of the animation. Small, slight movements are added and emphasize the passing of time in a long, unending shot.

The exhibition will also include thirty drawings and collages. Varied drawing styles and processes were lead by the artist's interest in the individual still from which the drawing originated. Some frames of the animations are starting points for more detailed drawings, installed in chronological order with various digressions. Yasinsky holds an MFA in painting from Yale University’s School of Art. Works related to L’Atalante were recently exhibited at The Baltimore Museum of Art, at The Sculpture Center in Long Island City and in a solo installation at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. In 2002, the UCLA Hammer Museum presented a solo exhibition of Yasinsky’s Still Life with Cows.

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Karen Yasinsky