Close Up

9 October 2018: Claes Söderquist: Reflections on Landscape


Claes Söderquist is a prominent figure of Swedish experimental film whose visually appealing and personal films revolve around slow cinematic reflections on architecture, landscape, strata, time and space. With influences from and interests in Land-Art, minimalist music (like Charlemagne Palestine) and structural film processes, Söderquist's dystopian and desolate scenery is sometimes reminiscent of the films by Michael Snow and Larry Gottheim.

Introduced by Martin Grennberger (Walden Magazine) and Daniel A. Swarthnas (Cinema Parenthèse). Claes Söderquist will be in conversation with Grennberger and Swarthnas following the screening.

Travelogue: Portraits - Images from a journey
Claes Söderquist
1969 | 28 min | B/W | 16mm

Travelogue, Portraits - Images from a journey is a black-and-white travel journal, in which the themes of memories and their relationship to the past suddenly catch up and rush away from us. The film is based on a series of portraits of American artists (including Alfred Leslie, Lowell Nesbit, Robert Nelson and Edward Kienholz), all of whom belong to a young and politicized generation, presented in static tableaus from their studios, films and home environments. The artists are portrayed without commentary or system. They are linked like stops along a journey from New York to California in this unpolished and rough road movie, where shaky handheld camera shots of oilfields, highways, landscapes, towns and billboards stream by outside the car window.” – Daniel A. Swarthnas

Claes Söderquist
1981 | 27 min | B/W & Colour | 16mm

“In Epitaph, landscape has partly taken the place of man. The film can be described as a psychodrama about loss and of the expanding toil of memory. Here a recurring space is strongly reminiscent of the setting of Michael Snow’s structuralist classic Wavelength – a film that has significantly influenced Söderquist. It constitutes a place for recovery that serves as a foil for the mythical, poetical shards and fragments of memory that are repeated through the film. A man lies naked on a sarcophagus-like concrete foundation, later to be covered by a white piece of cloth; the second part shows a blurred, naked woman looking out towards an area of deforestation. The movie ends with an image of a steppe, creating an anxious framework. Epitaph is, in Söderquist's own words, a film "about people and things heading for annihilation."” – Martin Grennberger

Claes Söderquist
1985-1987 | 36 min | Colour | 16mm

Landscape is Söderquist's first minimalistic film. Together with Passages – Portrait of a city and Labyrinth, it forms a trilogy exploring space by means of the landscape and the city. The slow camera shots show the inertia of nature and the temporality of thoughtfulness. The film is cut in motion to give a coherent structure of movement, a kind of course of events, through a multifaceted landscape of rich ferns, swaying treetops, winding roots alternated with reflections in a rippling stream. Landscape is a focused and tightly formed panorama, whose masterly projection of natural sound and cyclical construction are manifested in seasonal color and light variations and in flowing water.” – Daniel A. Swarthnas

In collaboration with Cinema Parenthèse (Bryssels Belgium), Filmform – the art film & video archive (Stockholm Sweden), and Walden Magazine (Stockholm, Sweden).

As a film curator, Söderquist has made several comprehensive exhibitions at Moderna Museet in Stockholm: “'The Pleasure Dome', American Experimental Film 1939-1979” (1980, in collaboration with Jonas Mekas), “Nordic Film” (1983), West German Experimental Film” (1985, in collaboration with Birgit Hein) and Swedish Avantgarde Film 1924-1990” (1991, touring program in US in collaboration with Jonas Mekas and Anthology Film Archives, New York).