Directed by Sophie FIENNES
A film of the work of Anselm KIEFER
OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW bears witness to German artist Anselm Kiefer’s alchemical creative processes and renders as a film journey the personal universe he has built at his hill studio estate in the South of France.
In 1993 Kiefer left Buchen, Germany for La Ribaute, a derelict silk factory near Barjac. From 2000 he began constructing a series of elaborate installations there. Like a strange, sprawling village, La Ribaute extends over 35 hectares and is composed of old industrial buildings and working studios that link to a network of underground tunnels dug out by Kiefer, which run underneath pavilions built to house paintings and installations. An underground pool at the cul-de-sac of a tubular iron tunnel is embedded within a crypt which backs onto to a 20 m tiered concrete amphitheatre. There are caves and woods, an open landscape of concrete towers – assembled like so many card houses – and secluded, private spaces. Traversing this landscape, the film immerses the audience in the total world and creative process of one of today’s most significant and inventive artists.
Shot in cinemascope, the film constructs visual set pieces alongside observational footage to capture both the dramatic resonance of Kiefer’s art and the intimate process of creation. This polarity – in terms of scale, sensibility and time – animates the film, creating a multi-layered narrative through which to navigate the complex spaces of La Ribaute.
Here creation and destruction are interdependent; the film enters into direct contact with the raw materials Kiefer employs to build his paintings and sculptures – lead, concrete, ash, acid, earth, glass and gold. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow gives privileged access to Kiefer’s last days at La Ribotte prior to his move to Paris, where he now lives and works.
ANSELM KIEFER’S monumental body of work occupies a fascinating place in the canon of late 20th Century art. Born in 1945, a son of post-fascist Germany, he initially embarrassed his country through his excavations of the nation’s recent past when he photographed himself performing Nazi salutes in the landscape. Kiefer came to prominence in 1980 when he represented his country in the Venice Biennale. His work is now held in museums and private collections internationally.
Recent exhibitions include a retrospective at the Guggenheim Bilbao and Monumenta (2007) at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 2008 the Louvre commissioned a painting for their permanent collection and Kiefer was awarded the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels in Germany. His creation at La Ribaute represents his most ambitious work to date in the second half of his career.