Sunday, January 4, 2015

Yuri Ancarani at the Hammer Museum

Here is an excerpt from Yuri Ancarani's trilogy of short films, La malattia del ferro (The disease of iron) from 2010-2012.

This is the most hypnotizing video I have seen all year. It reminded me of Ed Burtynsky's photographs of the marble mines in Northern Italy and seeing the quarries on the train ride from Florence to Cinque Terre.

The main character in the film is the Italian foreman who is coated in marble dust and sweat. The subtle nuances in sign language (and the resulting actions of the machines) and the potentially dangerous situation both he and the excavators are placed in, will cause one's jaw to drop. Even though this video clip does not do it justice, it was the most detailed resolution and high sound quality of any video I have seen in recent memory. The moment that caused me to gasp had nothing to do with marble crashing but an upclose detail of two of the foreman's missing fingers.

From the Hammer Museum's brochure:

"We are confronted with a massive white marble wall and gigantic excavator claw slowly stretching over the peak and latching onto the top to extract half the wall under the direction of the foreman, who moves back (seen in slow motion) as a chunk of the wall gently falls away and marble dust fills the air, meeting the dense fog... In Il Capo, the tanned, shirtless foreman directs his crew wordlessly, using a series of lyrical hand gestures similar to those of an air traffic controller or a symphony conductor. A series of close-ups reveal his hairy chest, a gold crucifix around his neck, and his deeply wrinkled face. Slowed down, his motions become almost balletic."

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