Last Seen by Sophie Calle

Credit: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Arts This Week: Finding What's Missing

December 12, 2013

An artist fills an empty frame with memory, a filmmaker fills a hole in his heart with a story, a man makes a quest to find his dreams and a mother searches for her first born. Below are such unique examples of how art reveals our longing for wholeness.

Last Seen by Sophie Calle, on view at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum through March 3rd

Twenty-two years ago, while standing in front of the empty spaces on the museum walls where great works of art (stolen in 1990) once hung, Calle asked curators, guards, conservators, and others what they remembered of the missing pieces. She used text from the interviews and the photographic images to create a visual meditation on absence and memory, as well as reflection on the emotional power works of art hold on their viewers. Last year, the Gardner invited Calle to revisit her Last Seen… project, which had never been viewed in Boston. Since Calle’s 1991 work, the empty frames have hung in the galleries, literally framing the emptiness.

Saving Mr. Banks, opening in select theaters Friday; in wide release on December 20th.

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks give audiences a look at the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen.  The determined movie maker Walt Disney and stubborn author of the children's book clash over the creative process, but it is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Disney discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together they set Mary Poppins free to become one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

» See Jared's interview with songwriter Richard Sherman when he visited Boston to help stage Mary Poppins at the Opera House in 2011.

Nebraska, in theaters now.

After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father (Bruce Dern) thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Shot in black and white across four states, Nebraska tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America. A divine June Squibb plays Will Forte’s mother.

Philomena, in theaters now.

Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, the film focuses on the efforts of Lee to discover her long-lost son. Lee's Irish-Catholic community looked down upon her out-of-wedlock pregnancy and encouraged her to give up the boy for adoption. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later and moving on with her life, Lee meets a BBC reporter and decides to find the child she couldn't keep.

Open Studio returns to WGBH 2 on December 20th.

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