Eric Breitbart is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in New York City. His documentaries include portraits of Robert Indiana, Aby Warburg, Louis Stettner, Diego Rivera, and Frederick Winslow Taylor. His 1994 film on the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, A World On Display, was followed by his book of the same title on the anthropology exhibits at the Fair (University of New Mexico Press, 1997). He has written articles for journals such as the New England Review, Cinemascope.it, Cinéaste, Metropolis, and American Film. Cinépingle: la mémoire du geste (The Last Pin Movie), a feature length documentary about work and creativity, was completed in 2008.
Noyon, la dentelle (Noyon Lace)
(20 min. 2011) in French
Calais, in northern France, has been a center of high quality, machine-made lace for more than a hundred years, and while the clatter of looms can no longer be heard throughout the city, a few companies continue supplying lace for major fashion houses and lingerie companies. Noyon, one of the last Calais lace manufacturers, invited me to make a short documentary which would give outsiders an idea of the complexities involved in making lace, and preserve some of the "savoir-faire" of experienced workers who will soon retire. Noyon, la dentelle, which I directed, shot, and edited, is the first step towards a feature length documentary about lace making in Calais.
The past year has been busy. "The Vertical Urban Factory", an exhibition curated by Nina Rapoport, was shown for four months in 2011 at New York’s Skyscraper Museum in downtown Manhattan, featuring six short videos that I produced and edited, using both archival and contemporary footage. I shot videos on Pilates for the Physical Mind Institute, psychotherapy training sessions for the Center for Somatic Studies, and public events for a new museum of mathematics that will open in New York in 2012. I shot and edited a music video for the alternative rock group Jackie O.M, and edited a video for dancer/choreographer Jill Sigman based on her performance piece, "Hut #5.
A new museum on the history of pin and needle making at the Bohin factory in St. Sulpice sur Risle, that was the subject of my film "Cinépingle: la mémoire du geste" (see clip), will open in September 2012. This fall I will begin working with exhibition designer François Confino to develop video presentations for the museum. I will also continue collaborating with Nina Rapoport, curator of the urban factory exhibit, to document various small manufacturing companies in New York City, and with the owner of the Bohin pin and needle factory, to undertake a similar project in France.
In my non-video activities I wrote an article about the palliative care center in France that was published by Hektoen International (vol.3, issue#2). I am currently editing a book about graphic designer Tomoko Miho that will be published by the Oyster Press as part of the Swedish design firm Hjärta Smärta’s "Hall of Femmes" project; and I have continued making my i-Photo books, which now number more than 30, about various urban phenomenon—no parking signs, doorbells, drainpipes, standpipes and fire hydrants—as well as cities that I’ve visited. New images from these books will soon appear on this website.
As part of my on-going effort to keep up with changing technology, I shot the lace video with a Panasonic Lumix GH-1 a "hybrid" still camera that also does HD video. The image and sound produced by this small, relatively inexpensive piece of equipment are quite extraordinary. I am not yet ready to abandon my Sonys (Z-1 and Z-7) but the Lumix definitely has a place in my future. I can’t wait to see what comes next.