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The Paradigm Case

The Cinema of Hitchcock and the Contemporary Visual Arts


Bernard McCarron

With the migration of cinema into the art gallery, artists have been turning, with remarkable regularity and ingenuity, to Alfred Hitchcock-related images, sequences and iconography. The world of Hitchcock’s cinema – a classical cinema of formal unities and narrative coherence – represents more than the spectre of a supposedly dead art form: it transcends its own filmic and institutional contexts, becoming an important audio-visual lexicon of desire, loss, mystery and suspense.
Through a detailed study of the Hitchcock-related work of artist-filmmakers Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet, Johan Grimonprez, Pierre Huyghe, Douglas Gordon and Atom Egoyan, this book facilitates a dialogue between the creative appropriation of Hitchcock’s films and the cinematic practices that increasingly inform the wider field of the contemporary visual arts. Each chapter is structured around a consideration of how the artwork in question has reconfigured or ‘remade’ key Hitchcockian expressive elements and motifs – in particular, the relationship between mise en scène and the mechanics of suspense, time, memory, history and death. In a career that extended across silent and sound eras as well as the British, European and Hollywood industries, Hitchcock’s film œuvre can be seen as a history of the cinema itself. As the work of these contemporary artist-filmmakers shows, it was also a history of the future, a paradigm case par excellence.
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I would like to extend a massive thanks to Matthias Müller, Christoph Girardet, Johan Grimonprez, Douglas Gordon, Pierre Huyghe and Atom Egoyan for granting permission for images and stills from their work to be used in this publication. I would also like to express further gratitude to Professor Roy Grundmann (Boston University), Sabine Groenewegen at Zapomatik, Marijike Haupt at VG Bild-Kunst, Martina Aschbacher and Frederick Pedersen at Lost But Found, Margo van de Wiel at the collection department of the Stedelijk Van Abbesmuseum, Catherine Belloy and Yun Sung Hong of the Marian Goodman Gallery, Mike Shilliam at Icon Film Distribition, Akshay Mehta at Exclusive Media and Marcy Gerstein at Ego Film Arts for facilitating my correspondence with the artists in the procurement of permissions. I am also hugely indebted to Laurel Plapp for guiding me through the publication process, ab ovo usque ad mala. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Jasmin Allousch for tending to the many publicity duties associated with the manuscript. ← xi | xii →

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