Artist Rohan Schwartz in a red t-shirt working at a desk in a studio.
Credit: Tatjana Plitt
Stories & Ideas

Wed 02 Feb 2022

Artist Rohan Schwartz on ‘Remembrance of echoes’

Art Behind the scenes Film Interview
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Rohan Schwartz reflects on the process behind his series of posters, ‘Remembrance of echoes'.

The poster series currently features four limited edition prints: Akerman, Kiarostami, Tarkovsky, and Varda, each representing the auteurs’ impact on the artist in a single image. Created by superimposing specific film stills one upon another, the result resembles a medical imaging scan that can be excavated for clues.

‘Remembrance of echoes’ is an ongoing project that explores my deep appreciation for film and filmmakers; an archive of homage that captures a familiar yet deeply personal imprint of multiple moments in a single image. I have always loved art forms that you can’t quite pin down, that require a return, for in this they resemble memories – that other personal archive, forever paying homage to our own lives, lived.

In my practice, homage has been ever present. In a long engagement with fellow Melbourne–Naarm artist Janenne Eaton, I’ve set about digitising a part of her archive – itself archaeological in its approach to the Anthropocene. French filmmaker and multimedia artist Chris Marker has also been hugely influential. For a 2013 show at West Space, I created a poster series, ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, referential of Marker’s 2008 work of the same name – itself referential. Yes, there is a pattern here.

Earlier still, I explored this interest in revering, referring and recreating, experimenting with compression software to distil music videos on YouTube into single image files – the result in a way – resembles how our brains may compact memories. Obfuscation is ever present, but only insofar as it’s a fact of life. The filmmaker too must flex this self-awareness when making the creative choice about what to include or exclude.

'Remembrance of echoes' is available exclusively at the ACMI Shop

You can't show everything. If you do, it’s no longer art. Art lies in suggestion

Robert Bresson

For me, the auteur’s eye and the world they construct, is at its most affecting when deeply and intimately aware of the world it inhabits and the role of film within it. Starting with four films I feel deeply connected to, all of which incidentally, I first saw at ACMI cinemas, I’ve developed a new series of prints; a visual record of the esoteric but lasting impression each auteur has made.

The current collection features Chantal Akerman, News from Home (1976); Abbas Kiarostami, Close-up (1990); Andrei Tarkovsky, Mirror (1975); and Agnes Varda, The Beaches of Agnes (2008). Future works may explore Chris Marker, Sans Soleil (1983); Kirsten Johnson, Cameraperson (2016); and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Syndromes of a Century (2006).

Each film is wildly different, but all demonstrate an intimate awareness of their own construction. They understand the indelible power of film as a tool to create, capture and enshrine experience, so as to buy time to explore the moments that make us human and make up individual and collective memory. Many of these moments are enigmatic, they defy language, making even more meaningful the passive celluloid observer, to which we can return, over and over.

Rohan Schwartz standing and leaning against a wall in a studio

Credit: Tatjana Plitt

‘Remembrance of echoes’ relies on the mind’s eye, creating images from the fragments of film captured best by my memory; this homage, a visual representation of the enigmatic flow of those strange, fleeting, indelible moments as they rise and fall in the conscious. The properties of colour, tone and texture vary in intensity as they might if enigmatic, always shifting. The result – like an imprint on the retina – a vision of awe, wonder and curiosity.

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