Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, “Paris,” 1999, 2'54"; “Shanghai,” 2003, 3'; “White Sands,” 2003, 3'50"; Videos. Shanghai Himalayas Museum installation view, 2017


Dominique Gonzalez Foerster’s “Paris” (1999), “Shanghai” (2003), and “White Sands” (2003) are all part of a compilation of eleven unreleased short films titled “Parc Central.” Filmed between 1998 and 2003, the series is accompanied by original scores from Adanowsky, Xavier Boussiron, and Christophe van Huffel. A study in parks, beaches, deserts, and cityscapes, “Parc Central” takes the viewer to Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Brazil, Kyoto, Taipei, Shanghai, and Paris. “Parc Central,” structured as a “concept album,” demonstrates Gonzalez Foerster’s skill for quietly interrogating the minutia of contemporary urban and non-urban life. Taken from snippets of film collected during her travels, the videos included in the sequence are “Kyoto” (1998); “Taipei” (2000); “Buenos Aires” (2003); “Los Glaciares” (2003); “Hong Kong” (2000); “Encore Taipei” (2000); “White Sands” (2003); “Brasilia” (1998); “Paris” (1999); “Shanghai” (2003); “Rio de Janeiro” (2000).

In “Paris,” the camera studies observers of the 1999 solar eclipse in France as they don special glasses and stare endlessly towards the sky. Their struggle to view the sun is made more dramatic by the melodic guitar playing in the background. “Shanghai” opens to zoomed in knobs on a radio, the only indication of place being the description beneath the controls—marked both in Chinese and English. A single hand flits back and forth, adjusting the volume and jumping between channels before eventually panning out to reveal the view from a hotel window and the city of Shanghai below. White Sands National Monument serves as the backdrop for Gonzalez-Foerster’s “White Sands;” families frolic against the blank white scenery as discordant music narrates their leisure time.

These three quiet contemplations engage viewers through their sense of ambience and contemplative melancholia. Yet the complete lack of explanation or frame of reference for each video leads us to draw our own conclusions about the quietly unfolding dramas. Without the name of the place emblazoned across the screen in the form of a title there would be no way to locate the setting beyond the viewer’s imagination and assumptions.

Recent solo exhibitions by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster include “1887-2058” at the Pompidou Center, Paris and K.20 in Dusseldorf (2015/2016), “Pynchon Park” at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, “Temporama” at Mam, Rio de Janeiro (2015), “Splendide Hotel” at the Palacio de Cristal/Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid (2014), “Chronotopes and Dioramas” at the Dia Art Foundation, New York (2009); and “TH.2058” in the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (2008). She also participated in Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007) and Documenta XI, Kassel (2002).  Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster has staged “QM.16” in Paris in 2016 as well as “M.2062” in London, Amsterdam, Dublin, Kyoto and Paris between 2012 and 2014. Her most recent films are “Otello 1887” (2015), “Vera and Mr Hyde” (2015) and “Lola Montez in Berlin” (2015). She lives in Paris and Rio de Janeiro (born in 1965, Strasbourg).