If the goal of portraiture is to capture the essence of the subject, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno pursue this ideal with ruthless zeal in their documentary film, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. The pair used seventeen cameras to film Algerian-French soccer star Zinédine Zidane while he played with his then-team Real Madrid against Villarreal CF — and to only film Zidane. For the full 90 minutes of the match, we observe Zidane ply his trade as a midfielder from every angle and almost every vantage point; none of the action away from Zidane is captured. Zidane walks, he runs, he passes, he scratches, he sweats, he barks the occasional bit of advice to his teammates, and near the end of the game, he's sent off for his role in a fight. As France's greatest player, and an exemplar of France's rapprochement with its colonial past, Zidane stands as a symbol for his adopted country — but in Gordon and Parreno's film, the layers of Zidane's celebrity are stripped away by the relentless eye of the camera. Here, he is only a man hard at work, and while he reveals nothing of himself, there's a feeling of unnatural familiarity with him after vicariously running so many miles in his shoes. The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum screens Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait at 6 p.m. at the Steinberg Hall Auditorium on the Washington University campus (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; 314-935-4523 or www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu) in conjunction with its exhibit, Rirkrit Tiravanija: Chew the Fat (Philippe Parreno is featured in Tiravanija's work). Admission is free, and music buffs should note that Mogwai created the film's soundtrack.
Fri., June 26, 2009