Project Description

 Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Film Still from Leviathan

Co-Director, Film Study Center, 2008-2020

Castaing-Taylor is an anthropologist whose work seeks to conjugate art’s negative capability with an ethnographic attachment to the flux of life. His work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the British Museum, and has been exhibited at Venice Biennale, documenta, Tate, Centre Pompidou, MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, Berlin Kunsthalle, PS1, Whitechapel Gallery, and London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. His films and videos have screened at Berlin, Locarno, New York, Toronto, Venice and other film festivals.

Castaing-Taylor’s works include Sweetgrass (2009, with Ilisa Barbash), a film that offers an unsentimental elegy at once to the American West and to the 10,000 years of uneasy accommodation between post-Paleolithic humans and animals, and Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with a Hook? (2012—2016, with Verena Paravel), a four-part project about humanity and the sea. Leviathan (2012), Still Life/ Nature Morte (2014) and eleven of his other works were included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In 2015, together with Ernst Karel and Verena Paravel, he completed the installation Ah humanity!, which takes the 3/11/11 disaster in Fukushima as its point of departure and reflects on the fragility and folly of humanity in the age of the Anthropocene. It has been installed at the French National Archives at the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris and at the Science Center at Harvard. His latest works, commissioned by documenta 14, are somniloquies (2017, with Paravel), Commensal (2017, with Paravel), and Caniba (2017, with Paravel).

FSC Works

Film Still from Sweetgrass


Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 101 min. 2009

An unsentimental elegy to the American West, Sweetgrass follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed.

Sweetgrass premiered at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. It has since played at the New York Film Festival, the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, and AFI Festival, among others.

A really intimate, beautifully shot examination of the connection between man and beast…” —Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“A one-of-a-kind experience. At once epic-scale and earthbound” —Ronnie Scheib, Variety.

Film Still from Leviathan


Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, 87 min. 2012

In the very waters where Melville’s Pequod gave chase to Moby Dick, Leviathan captures the collaborative clash of man, nature, and machine. Shot on a dozen cameras — tossed and tethered, passed from fisherman to filmmaker — it is a cosmic portrait of one of mankind’s oldest endeavors.