#2 Teo Hernandez: Pas de ciel
9 July–24 August 2022
Between Bridges is delighted to inaugurate one of its new spaces with an installation of the film Pas de ciel (1987), by the artist, writer and filmmaker Teo Hernandez. Pas de ciel constitutes the apotheosis of Hernandez’s lifelong practice, which was committed to capturing the movement of bodies and mediating the sensation of touch through film.
Born in 1939 in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Hernandez originally trained as an architect, only to then dedicate his life to the moving image and its ability to convey corporeality. In Mexico City, he co-founded the Centro Experimental de Cinematografía, before moving to Paris in 1966, where he became closely affiliated with the Ecole du corps, a Super8 film movement that studied the grammar of bodies in order to emulate how they moved. Together with his first muse and life partner, the artist Michel Nedjar, Hernandez travelled extensively through countries including Greece, India, Morocco and Nepal, making numerous short films that established his elaborate style, at once diaristic and baroque. Merging travelogue with the documentation and celebration of monotonous free time, his work provided both highly stylized, staged scenes in costume, and an enquiry into the aesthetic traditions of spirituality. From the mid-1970s, Hernandez expanded his oeuvre to feature-length films. These longer works frequently reimagined biblical stories, as in his reinterpretation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé (1976) or the quadrilogy Le Corps de la Passion (1977–80), which featured his second muse and lover, the artist Gaël Badaud, as a recurring protagonist. Together with Nedjar, Badaud and the filmmaker Jakobois, the four soon became intimately connected as the collective Métro-Barbès-Rochechou-Art, exerting a mutual influence on each other’s approach to the relationship between body and camera. As a consequence, Hernandez transformed his filmic grammar in the 1980s, shifting from capturing moving bodies to using the camera as an extension of his own body in motion. In doing so he developed an ecstatically expressive new vocabulary involving a swinging camera, circular downward rotations when transitioning between shots, and the extensive use of whip zooms.
In his final years, Hernandez took a great interest in the filming of dance as much as filming as dance, undergoing a transformation that made him at once filmmaker, choreographer and performer. Pas de ciel, by contrast, is considered a paragon of collaboration. Created for the Rencontre Danse/Image festival in Chateauvallon, Hernandez conceived the piece with the dancer–choreographer Bernardo Montet, at that time an emerging figure in French contemporary dance, who merged elements of psychomotricity and butō with a repertoire informed by his personal experience of colonial heritage. Pas de ciel reimagines where film ends and dance begins: its language is silent and yet intensely resonant, its ‘syntax’ is straightforward – a body set against the horizon, between sea and sky – and it offers both a premonitory glimpse and the residual trace of the potentiality of movement and gesture.
Hernandez died in 1992 from HIV-related complications. He left behind an idiosyncratic oeuvre, including over 100 works of moving image. His films and writings are housed at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, to which they were donated by Michel Nedjar.
Between Bridges is grateful to Light Cone for granting permission for the exhibition, in addition to its exceptionally kind support.
Work on display:
Teo Hernandez, Pas de ciel (1987), 16mm transferred to digital, colour, silent, 29 min
Further event in the context of the exhibition:
Film programme: July 13, 8pm
Between Bridges is pleased to present a screening of additional films by artist, writer and filmmaker Teo Hernandez (1939 - 1992) this Wednesday, 13 July at 8pm, accompanying the current installation of the film Pas de ciel (1987). The screening will highlight films from distinctive periods of Hernandez’s body of work which was committed to capturing the movement of bodies and mediating the sensation of touch through film:
Michel là-bas, 1970, 8mm transferred to digital, colour, sound, 16 min
Corps aboli, 1978, Super 8mm transferred to digital, colour, silent, 16'24 min
Salomé, 1976, Super 8mm transferred to digital, colour, 65 min