2013 Images Blog 7 Andrew James Paterson
Tues. Apr. 16 - Wed. Apr. 17
I take in French artist Louidgi BeltrameÕs projection Brasilia/Chandigarh, which is installed in V/TapeÕs small studio gallery. This work is concerned with landscape and architecture, specifically two constructed capital cities dreamt and executed by two world-famous architects. Oscar Niemeyer did Brasilia and Le Corbusier Chandigarh, in Brazil and India respectively. These cities were imposed on landscapes and now lie like remains of unrealized modernist visions even more at odds with their surrounding landscapes.
This work is almost half an hour and it is paced like a slow tine poem. Beltrame creates a dialogue between these two modernist monuments by deploying sparsely minimal musical tones along with snippets of dialogue. I had trouble hearing the dialogue in relation to the musical tones, not that they were competing for space. I think, despite its length and its frequent silence, that Brasilia/Chandigarh might have been better served by being projected as a film or video in a theatrical programme. The work certainly addresses relationships between constructed and natural, but is not particularly addressing gallery space or architecture.
In the evening itÕs time for Scoring CineCycle - a programme composed by mashing up live music with films from CineCycle proprietor Martin HeathÕs wonderfully eclectic film collection. Is anybody reading this blog who doesnÕt know CineCycle? If so, try to attend the Images festivalÕs late-night lounge in this wonderful venue, which combines HeathÕs interests in things with spokes (film reels and bicycles). Martin is one of the worldÕs true resources.
Three musical ensembles were invited to provide live accompaniment for four films from HeathÕs collection. These ensembles were Lina Allemano Four, Eucalyptus, and Del Bel.
Lina Allemano (I believe she is the trumpeter) scored two films - Leon ProchnikÕs The Existentialist and Jordan BelsonÕs amazing animation Allures, which was radical in 1961 and still is today. The Existentialists was a treat, as the band provided a literally walking score which synched with the film without being too literal (although it was deadpan hilarious when the protagonist would stop walking and so would the band - just for a pause - and then start up again.) Characters in this film walk both forward and backward, but the music stuck to its rhythms. Allures encouraged more psychedelic, and while AllemanoÕs quartet rose to the challenge admirably, I thought that electronic or more textured instruments might have been more sited to the film (without becoming too literal).
EucalyptusÕ accompaniment of Betty FergusonÕs Kisses was less successful, probably due to personal tastes. Their soundtrack had more of a Ņjazz fusionÓ flavour than the Allemano quartet, even though saxophonist Brodie West plays in both ensembles. Also, the film itself is too long. Kisses is a match-edited collage of, well, people kissing in different source films. Although some of the kissing takes place in humorous situations, there is not enough variety or contrast to justify the length. Also, the kissing was almost completely heterosexual, which is not the composition of the world.
Del Bel was a tight ensemble from the Guleph independent scene, with more ŅrockÓ make-up than the previous jazzers. They provided a tight accompaniment to a wonderful silent German film titled Uberfall (by Emo Metzner) - with lots of smoking and tantalizing criminal intrigue probably going on. Live musical accompaniment was a key component of early cinematic presentation; and many cineastes may bemoan the eventual introduction of sound on film but music has always been intrinsic to the cinematic medium. Ask any editor - music provides the template for effective editing, whether rhythmic or atmospheric.
And, speaking of bicycles, I walked over to German artist Bjorn KemmererÕs installation 8, at Unpack Studio. This space is on a side side street and could easily be missed except for the festival signage outside - IÕm sure it was once an Internet cafˇ or was that a tax preparation office? Regardless, what is now a small gallery hosts a filmic installation involving a bicyclist (the artist) riding in a figure 8 as a 16mm projector (not Super or regular 8) has been equipped with a rotating motor in order to project this image of the cyclist around the gallery space - the projected image is rotated. The cyclist is thus endlessly riding away from the direction of this rotating image - into infinite space and not really going anywhere. Kammerer is also the filmmaker who made Torque (in the Sleight of Hand programme), in which he sets up a tracking shot across railroad tracks, and that shot could also continue across the tracks forever as it is circular and not linear.
In the evening, I attend a presentation focussed on works by iconic American artist David Wojnarowicz, who combined a fluid interdisciplinary practice with activist anger. Wojnarowicz, who passed from AIDS-related causes in 1992, worked in painting, photography, sculpture, film, music, and writing. Above all he was a writer, but his work in film and music are perhaps the least known of this considerable body of work.
The Images presentation revolved around a 1987 Wojnarowicz film called Beautiful People, shot on Super 8. This film shows collaborator and performer Jesse Hultberg making himself up in drag and then taking a cab to a forest and then immersing himself in a body of water. The film is shot in black and white stock until a moment just before the water immersion, where it butts into glorious colour. I had been trying to guess the colour of the performerÕs dress - gold perhaps, or silver - and lo and behold it is a glorious red dress. The ruby-toed slippers Hultberg had donned before his excursion should have been a clue - The Wizard of Oz is truly one of the great cultural reference points of not only the twentieth century. The half hour film is silent (with some location sound bleeding in), and relatively unedited. Hultberg, who was present for a discussion with Toronto polymath Don Pyle, also showed a heavily edited seven minute version which paled in comparison to the original. Making oneself up in drag is itself drag -a commitment to performance has been made and therefore making oneself up is already performance. I could have watched the original for more than half and hour, although the act of going underwater water raised obvious alarm bells.
The short version also contains a song by the band 3 Teens Kill 4 No Motive, of which both Wojnarowicz and Hultberg were members. The song is light and poppy and in a very different tone than the film - I donÕt think it ŅworksÓ. The collaboration between Wojnarowicz and Hultberg was intended to restore a friendship which had become strained after the band disintegrated. Earlier performative footage of the band was presented after the discussion between Hultberg and Pyle, and the band was much more interesting (funkier and kind of love-fi industrial, with use of non-musical noise objects and found texts) than what is heard on the soundtrack of the short version of Beautiful People. That title is plural, and it refers not only to both Wojnarowicz and Hultberg but also to those who dare to live performatively and for whom artifice can make the world go round.