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Frederick Abrams

The Underground Cathedral

Frederick Abrams

The Underground Cathedral

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© 2013 Frederick Abrams, The Underground Cathedral

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FORBIDDEN PASSAGE

Q. In “About to Depart” the train passes many times departs and arrives…A. “About to Depart” is basically an introduction to the entire film. It combines images and sounds from most of the cities where I have done photography, sound recording or videotaping. It’s a collage where I wanted to show a relationship between all of the systems. It’s not easy to discern what city you are experiencing at the moment. In fact, there’s one instance where you see the first image of Paquito, who’s from Barcelona, superimposed over a mirrored image of the Moulin Rouge in Paris, and these two images are on top of a sign in the London Underground which says, “Way Out.”

As I do throughout the film, I make many visual superimpositions as well as with sound. As you go through the film some of these scenes and images appear again, and you see them again more clearly in the context of where they derive from.

About to Depart
About to Depart
About to Depart
About to Depart

There’s one scene in “About do Depart” of a face of a woman with a large black hat that passes across the screen. This could be anywhere and it is treated with a sharp black and white contrast so the face is almost washed out and becomes but a caricature. Then later in “Samoobsługa” the same face reappears, though now it is a bit more clear and in color.

Samoobsługa

So the first piece is basically an introduction to the film, but it is also very much about movement related to the music, slowing down and speeding up the scenes of the trains, passing through tunnels. Back to this theme of “passages” there’s an image that I love that I found years ago in Paris: a passageway inside of the underground which above says, “Passage Interdit” (Forbidden Passage), but this passage has been closed.

Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage
Forbidden Passage

It’s become a concrete wall but the original sign is still there, which I found a really wonderful contradiction. I also created the illusion of a train coming at you which passes like an illuminated ghost image the same as the one that rides through the Paris sky, passing right through the surface of that concrete wall. Again, the relationship between light and dark, hope and despair.

Q. Is the metro for you like a forbidden passage?

A. Sometimes I think of it like a labyrinth. “The Tunnel’s End” is a metaphor for when one is in darkness and is looking for a way out. It’s also about hope. This is a subject that “Under Lenin’s Tomb,” is very much about. It is based on a combination of different metro systems in Central and Eastern Europe. To me this poses the question: “Is this freedom of movement or are we locked in a system and constricted by it?”

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