AU REVOIR MOODLE POZART - Fruitmarket Gallery 2003
Jean-Luc Godard - young turk, champion of the nouvelle vague and exponent of the ’auteur theory’ looked to and at many women for inspiration, including Jean Seberg, Brigitte Bardot and Anne Marie Miéville. The most vibrant and insolent of all the ’Godardettes’ was Hanne Karin Blayer. While working as a professional muse and model, Bayer was renamed Anna Karina by Coco Chanel. she subsequently worked with and married Jean-Luc Godard. During their relationship Anna Karina appeared in seven of Godard’s films all of which (as ’ateur theory’ clearly demands) acknowledge the director as the primary shaping force behind any film.
In Michelle Naismith’s film, Au Revoir Moodle Pozart, 2003, she has worked with the curator Dessislava Dimova, who performs the role of home help and disciple of the fictional renaissance mystic, philosopher, composer and general guru called Moodle Pozart. Like an avenging anna Karina, Dimova wields the only weapon an earnest patriarch would fear : ridicule. Moodle Pozart is the central figure in a story that is told through three installations and a book that forms the exhibition entitled, ’Au Revoir Moodle Pozart’. Facing the visitor on arrival at the Fruitmarket Gallery is a black wall on which a large illuminated sign has been constructed from an arrangement of standard lightbulbs that serves to announce the title of the exhibition. On either side of this low-rent signage are a darkened screening room, in which you can view Au Revoir Moodle Pozart, and an archive room containing mockumentary items relating to the production of the film.
The Character Moodle Pozart has been inspired by the composer Mozart, Swiss psychic Anton MEsmer, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and a large poodle. Through musical and mystic dictation Pozart advocates arcane forms of mysticism, transcendental meditation and deep ’magnetic virtue’. However, no one can enter history without acolytes, not even a poodle. So Naismith has provided him with a chronicler and personal assistant performed by the writer and artist, Douglas Park. Park’s performance, like Dimova’s, is perfectly mute and servile, indulging and patronising the puppet-like, platitudinous, Poodle meister that they choose to serve.
The film Au Revoir Moodle Pozart is half biopic and half promotional video. Narrated only through English subtitles the absence of an aural French voice-over parodies European art-house cinema and early silent films. An abstracted storyline loosely follows Pozart’s rise to fame, struggles with manic depression and subsequent disappearance into the ether. The soundtrack consists of wilfully avant-garde musak composed by Kris Delacourt which enunciates the message of Au Revoir Moodle Pozart : that the beholder cannot know when a smile is really a smirk.
Pozart’s witnesses, the home-help and chronicler remain in character and report on their experiences in a documentary style, their interviews being screened on a monitor in the archive room. Along with a publication of stills, fragments of narrative and essays on Pozart that are credited to Dimova and Park, there is antique super-8 footage of the home help performing ritualistic meditation. The early egalitarian impulses behind documentary filmmaking provide a cultural backdrop against which Pozart’s minions can emerge as speaking, feeling three-dimensional characters that steal the limelight from their mentor and emerge from his shadow.
In 1994 Godard released his filmic self-portrait, JLG. this film turned out to be a depressing and solitary view of life, executed in the style of camp gravitas ; while watching Pozart’s personal promo I tried (as I was instructed) to ’feel the superconscious’, but I could only smirk. Watching Au Revoir Moodle Pozart really was a transcendental experience - I transcended the gallery’s reverential atmosphere and my own earnest approach to viewing this artwork.
Naismith, Dimova, Park and Delacourt have visualised, rehearsed, filmed, documented and lovingly besmirched the character of Moodle Pozart into reality, and like all shrewd artists they have chosen to kill off their own creation in the end. Irreverent, self-conscious, funny and beautiful the exhibiton ’Au Revoir Moodle Pozart’ is both humorous and post-ironic.