Chantal Akerman

A Voice in the Desert

Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex, Siena

The Santa Maria della Scala Museum in Siena, in collaboration with Marian Goodman Gallery and Opera Civita, celebrated the internationally renowned Belgian auteur and visual artist Chantal Akerman (1950 - 2015) by presenting her moving image installation Une voix dans le désert (2002) for the first time in Italy. 

Akerman's essential and recurrent concern lies in the questioning of the notion of frontier in all shapes and forms—from the geographical to the personal. A pioneer of the cinematic turn of contemporary art, she was one of the first directors to move from independent film-making to embrace the gallery space in the mid 1990’s. Originally conceived for Documenta XI, Une voix dans le désert (2002) is a meditation on the issue of illegal migration along the border between Mexico and the United States.


The installation is a remediation of De l’autre côté (2002), a documentary which was filmed between the no-man's-land near Agua Prieta, Sonora, where people from all over Mexico wait, in limbo, before crossing over into the United States, and the cross-border town of Douglas. Une voix dans le désert was projected on a ten meters-wide screen installed on the border itself, between two mountains—one in the US and the other in Mexico—in the middle of the Arizona desert. The screen could be viewed from both sides of the border, as a metaphorical mean to put both the inhabitants of Douglas and Agua Prieta face-to-face.

Chantal Akerman. A Voice in the Desert opened with a special screening of Marianne Lambert's documentary I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman (2015), followed by a talk with the curators of the exhibition Giovanna Fazzuoli & Giulia Magno.

Left: Installation view of Une voix dans le désert (2002) at Ambika P3, London.

Courtesy of the Chantal Akerman Foundation & Marian Goodman Gallery.

Right: The Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex, Siena.

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