Jean-Luc Godard’s Cannes Film ‘The Image Book’ to Become Touring Art Show

The French New Wave legend’s latest work, which premiered last week, will become an interactive exhibition, travelling to Paris, Madrid and New York

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Still from trailer for Jean-Luc Godard, The Image Book, 2018

Still from trailer for Jean-Luc Godard, The Image Book, 2018

Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film The Image Book (2018), which premiered at Cannes last Friday, is to get the exhibition treatment. The film’s producers Fabrice Aragno and Mitra Farahani promise that the film will be transformed into an art show that will then go on tour. The details are still being worked out, but Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía and Singapore’s National Gallery are among the arts institutions in talks about hosting the travelling exhibition. 

Stills from Godard’s The Image Book will be broken down to fill the interactive show, filling a 500-600 square metre space: ‘Those who will discover the exhibit will walk through a forest of images and sounds’, Aragno told Variety. The producer compared the show to Picasso’s Guernica, but whereas that was ‘related to one historical chapter,’ The Image Book is a meditation ‘on 200 years of history and gives some insight on today’s world.’

Featuring a montage that draws on the history of the moving image, alongside Godard’s voiceover, The Image Book’s sprawling references include Isis video propaganda, classic Hollywood clips, and a fleeting scene taken from Michael Bay’s 2016 film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Despite The Image Book’s multiple citations, it is the latter which has caused much speculation about its unlikely inclusion. When one reporter asked the media-shy director about the Bay reference at a Cannes press conference, at which Godard spoke via FaceTime, he professed igorance. ‘I don’t remember that film’, he said. And then later doubled down: ‘I don’t think that these images come from that film.’

Godard is no stranger to controversy in the gallery world. In 2006 he was due to present a major retrospective at Paris’s Centre Pompidou, in which relations with the curator gradually disintegrated, leading Godard to drop out entirely. In a recent piece for frieze, Negar Azimi visited a show in New York of the filmmaker’s maquettes: ‘If anything, Godard’s true art may lie in those maquettes: traces of a show that never was, in which past and present mingle,’ she wrote.

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