A Minimal Difference

Jean-Paul Kelly

A Minimal Difference

2012, 5’00”

14 April – 20 April



A Minimal Difference is shot using a multi-plane camera setup and features receding cell paintings referenced from widely circulated press images (barricades from political protests in Bangkok, bodies piled after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, furniture from an eviction in Cleveland, destruction in Gaza) and more metaphoric pictures (a logjam, clouds or smoke). Each tableau is separated into visual planes that, when filmed with movement, mimic the perception of optical distance.

“Within and against these cartoon-like settings, four figures recur: a blue square (or cube), a yellow triangle (or pyramid), a green circle (or sphere), and a red rectangle (or rectangular solid). They show up against a neutral gray background (Suprematist painting, basically), accompanied by a synthesizer note. But they also hijack the scenes of “realist” concern (poverty, war, violence) by asserting themselves – their flatness, their geometrical universality – over the “local” scenes. Kelly is not leveling tired charges against high modernism and its evacuation of History. Rather, A Minimal Difference introduces abstraction, as typically understood, into the realm of social representation, which always entails its own, less obvious substitutions.” – Michael Sicinski (from an interview with Jean-Paul here).



“Jean-Paul Kelly (Canadian, b. 1977) is an artist exploring the relationship between materiality and perception. The videos, drawings, and photographs that Kelly makes pose questions about the limits of representation by examining complex associations between found photographs, videos, and sounds from documentaries, photojournalism, and online media streams. His work has exhibited at the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus), The Power Plant (Toronto), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), Scrap Metal Gallery (Toronto), Mercer Union (Toronto), Gallery TPW (Toronto) and Tokyo Wonder Site. Recent screenings include New York Film Festival,Toronto International Film Festival, SBC Gallery (Montreal), Nightingale Cinema (Chicago), the Seoul Museum of Art, and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. He was a Guest Artist at the 2013 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar and will be a resident at the Delfina Foundation (London) in 2015. Kelly received the 2014 Kazuko Trust Award from the Kazuko Trust and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.” (from the artist’s website).



It’s worth spending some time exploring Jean- Paul Kelly’s playful website, www.jeanpaulkelly.com.

Here’s  a short discussion between Jean-Paul Kelly and Chris Stults, Associate Curator of Film/Video, Wexner Center for the Arts, and there’s a longer text, Three Recent Works By Jean-Paul Kelly, by Michael Sicinski here.




Image: Jean-Paul Kelly, Dwelling, 2008