(Sophie Fiennes; France / UK/ Netherlands: 2010)
German artist Anselm Kiefer has lived and worked in a old former silk factory in Barjac, France, since 1993, and for the past ten years has slowly been transforming this place, and its surrounds, into a gallery-space which is really one giant artwork. This extremely engaging film meditates on the intricate, otherworldly landscape of Barjac, as well as presenting Kiefer constantly engaged in extending and developing this strange and surreal miniature city. Fiennes is not afraid to let the work speak for itself, as slow moving shots pan through labyrinthine tunnels, across monolithic art-works hanging in their own rough-hewn gallery arenas, and over towers of large, semi-broken concrete slabs, all rising from the ground as if the earth has recently spat out some ancient ruins. These long sequences, aided by a fantastic score by Gyorgy Ligeti, are sublime – the music, the art, and the stately motion of the camera make for wonderfully hypnotic cinema. But even more engaging is seeing Kiefer at work, his creativity seeming to be a constant flow that pours forth new ideas at a startling rate of knots. When we see Kiefer at play with a new work, we get to see someone who inhabits the skin of an artist without pretension, with simplicity, verve, and natural grace.