Mark Mangion / Punishment Park

Paris / November 17
Mark Mangion

For the Paris stage of Parallel Borders, Mark Mangion starts with the presentation of a 1971 Peter Watkins film, Punishment Park forming part of a collection of curated films relating to power and politics also including films by Adam Curtis and others.

Set in a detention camp in an America of the near-future, Punishment Park’s pseudo-documentary style places a British film crew amongst a group of young students and minor dissidents who have opted to spend three days in ‘Bear Mountain Punishment Park’. The detainees, rather than accept lengthy jail sentences for their ‘crimes’, gamble their freedom on an attempt to reach an American flag — on foot and without water — through the searing heat of the desert. The pursuit of Group 637 — a lethal, one-sided game of cat-and-mouse with a squad of heavily armed police and National Guardsmen — is contrasted with the corrupt trial of Group 638 by a quasi-judicial tribunal.

Both controversial and relentless in its depiction of suppression and brutality, Punishment Park was heavily attacked by the mainstream press and permitted only the barest of releases in 1971. However, like Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool (1969) and Robert Kramer’s Ice (1969), Peter Watkins’ film has established itself as one of the key, yet rarely seen, radical films of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Giving voice to the disaffected youth of America that had lived through the campus riots at Berkeley, the trial of the Chicago Seven, and who were witnessing the escalation of the Vietnam War.

A lot of this film appears improvised and in several scenes real tempers seem to flare, as some of the "acting" got overaggressive creating an interesting exercise in situational ethics.

The screening will take place at 7.30pm.

Born in Malta, founder and director of Malta Contemporary Art, artist/curator Mark Mangion studied Painting at Parsons School of Design, New York and and Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. In 2012, he launched Parallel Borders, a long-term project established as a roving platform focusing on a multidisciplinary collective operating in significant theoretical fields and territories of political relevance around the world. Mangion has showcased over 100 artists and other professionals in over 25 exhibitions, projects and events including Simon Starling, Cyprien Gaillard, Spartacus Chetwynd, Douglas White, Jess Flood-Paddock & Haris Epaminonda.