Nathalie Melikian

The Last Man on Earth, 2016

Working between conceptual art and experimental film, Nathalie Melikian explores the formal and semantic processes of cinema, with particular focus on film conventions, genres and narrative strategies. Her video projects dissect, analyse and reconstruct both the internal architecture and the presentation device of film, and probe the medium’s singular ability to manipulate the viewer.

Rather than place these structural issues at a distance as she references the formal construction of film, Melikian chooses to emphasize them by drawing the viewer into the narrative web. Here, the artist’s appropriation and subversion of a selected genre involves a novel reinterpretation that does not do away with the role of film as entertainment. The Last Man on Earth applies this strategy through animation. Adopting the post-apocalyptic disaster film formula, the scenario lays out the story of a man who slept through the departure of the last convoy leaving Earth for a new, habitable planet. Left on his own in a barren environment, the protagonist is an anonymous male hero who endures a string of actions and reactions to ensure his physical and psychological survival. In following, via a voice-over narration, a story whose references (gestural, theatrical, plot-related) fit into a specific genre, viewers are prompted to call upon their own film memories in order to appreciate the power of the codes employed.

Presented by La Biennale de Montréal in partnership with Dazibao.