What is cinema, really? Lars Von Trier has endeavored to answer this unanswerable question over the course of his eclectic body of work, experimenting with videotape, rigorous ideological doctrines, and punishing transgression. To this same inquiry, his latest professional effort posits the daring response: shiny rocks?
The New York Times reports that the noted Danish auteur has mounted a new exhibition at MHKA, Antwerp’s museum of contemporary art, in which he reimagines his feature films as elegantly cut diamonds.
The first in the planned series offers an abstract, physical representation of Von Trier’s Melancholia, using a brilliant cut on one side and a rough cut on the other to symbolize the collision of the characters’ personalities, of planets, and of the director’s operatic slow-mo passages with his handheld shooting. In true Von Trier fashion, he carved the initials LvT into the jewel as well.
The installation also features a virtual-reality component through which visitors may step inside of an enlarged version of the diamond to fully appreciate its intricacies.
While the New York Times could not include an image of the diamond itself – the director has banned all photography, preferring that each person undertakes the experience live and in person – they did get a sumptuous quote from the man behind them. Though Von Trier spent approximately five years cutting the first diamond, he’d planned on a tighter schedule: “It has been in a way a sideline, but you never know where life will take you… When it started I thought it would take about two weeks to cut the diamond, and it would be interesting.”
The Times item claims that he won’t take as long to produce the next diamond, which will be based on Breaking the Waves and crop up in a different museum. But as anyone who’s followed the work of Lars Von Trier already knows, the man is nothing if not a diamond in the rough.
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