In the early 1970s, the Quay Brothers started their careers as graphic designers, gradually specialising in book covers. When they were first offered the opportunity to propose a script – for what was to become Nocturna Artificialia (1979) – what they most readily had at hand were these drawings. They not only served as moodboards, but also quite literally formed a background for several scenes in the film.
From then on, the Quay Brothers built up a unique reputation as filmmakers, without letting go of their parallel activities as graphic designers and illustrators. Since 1988, they have also had a career in the theatre, doing set design and creating site-specific interventions. When, in 1997, they first started to exhibit in museum spaces (notably in Rotterdam, at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen), it was with three-dimensional still lifes in the form of peep-boxes and dioramas. Since then, they have had several touring exhibitions, culminating in major retrospective shows at MoMA (New York, 2012), Eye (Amsterdam, 2014) and Japan (touring since 2016).
Geoff Andrew, writer, lecturer and BFI programmer-at-large, interviews the brothers about the very personal universe they have mapped out over the years, with a strong imprint from such literary figures as Franz Kafka, Robert Walser and Felisberto Hernandez. For their current exhibition and upcoming feature, they revisit the work of Bruno Schulz, who had already inspired them for Street of Crocodiles (1986). With the support of Atelier Koninck and Tommy Simoens Art Gallery.Fri 24 Jan, 14:30, Hilton Le Jardin, €6/€5