Feb 28, 2011
Posted by swinny at 10:45 PM
Posted by Brittan at 8:13 PM
Museum of Modern Art
September 15, 2010 – May 2, 2011
by Samantha Oddi
Even though the practical products that help to run a home are the
result of countless hours of deliberation and design, they are not the
commonest pieces in an art museum. Most of these ease-making products
are intended for the kitchen, where they are supposed to make feeding
ourselves simpler, quicker, and even more fun. The kitchen in
particular is typically an unglamorous place that requires some amount
of daily cleaning, regular stocking, and a number of mundane,
necessary chores. Despite all this, the kitchen and the products
created for it have been featured in design exhibitions at the Museum
of Modern Art for some time. Outside of some of the museum's longer
running design displays is a temporary exhibit which resides in the
Special Exhibition Gallery, previously the home of Monet's Water
Lilies, called Counter Life: Design and the Modern Kitchen.
Consisting of images and text, household objects from different eras,
posters, sculptures, moving images, and an intact example of a
Frankfurt Kitchen, Counter Space depicts different eras in the
evolution of the kitchen in the twentieth century and the various
responses to that kitchen by advertisers, designers, and artists.
The mission statement of the Museum of Modern Art explains that the
museum seeks "to create a dialogue between the established and the
experimental, the past and the present" and Counter Space was clearly
created with that mission in mind.(1) As created by Juliet Kinchin,
a curator in the department of architecture and design, and curatorial
assistant Aiden O'Connor, the exhibition has three parts: The New
Kitchen, Visions of Plenty, and Kitchen Sink Dramas. "The New
Kitchen" illustrates the changing designs and products for the kitchen
after World War I, especially as it related to the Frankfurt Kitchen.
"Visions of Plenty" showcases the expansion of American kitchens and
the greater variety of appliances and plastic products made available
after World War II and through the Cold War. The last section,
"Kitchen Sink Dramas," features the different interpretations of the
kitchen and housework in different artists' work since the 19060's.
The New York Times writer Roberta Smith wrote that the connection
between the final section and the rest was "boilerplate art history,
but to see it made with real-life art and artifacts against the rich
backdrop of this exhibition is something else."(2)
Counter Space is indeed rich. That such a large amount of content
manages to fit into a relatively small space in a coherent way is an
impressive accomplishment. Materials from every department of the
museum's collections are featured in the exhibition, including a
surprising number of selections from the film department. Moving
image materials are prominent components in each section of the
exhibit. They explain, provide context and commentary, or just
entertain. They are viewed in different ways in each section as a
result of the context in which they are presented and their method of
A large screen hangs from the ceiling at the entrance to the exhibit
and a scene is projected upon it (pictured below). Die Frankfurter
Küche (The Frankfurt Kitchen) is a black and white silent film from
1928 that was directed by Paul Wolff. The original film print has
been digitized and is projected by a digital projector.
(picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/43355544@N03/5487290946/)
The film demonstrates the effectiveness of the new Frankfurt Kitchen
by comparing it's efficiency and cleanliness with footage of women
working in a typical kitchen of the time, while intertitles explain
the differences between the two cooking environments. The display
introduces the visitor to "The New Kitchen" and the beginning of the
Embedded in the side of the model Frankfurt Kitchen is a video screen
not much larger than a standard sheet of paper (pictured below). It
plays The Housing Factory (c. 1928), a black and white silent film
about the process of making pre-fabricated housing. The video
practically blends in with the still photographs of similar size that
have been printed onto the side of the kitchen. A visitor can
seamlessly move from reading to watching to viewing.
(picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/43355544@N03/5486696251/)
In the "Visions of Plenty" section there is a series of three video
screens joined together in a long rectangle that stands out from the
wall (pictured below). A display of magazine advertisements from the
post-war era are laid out in a glass case below the screens. Three
sets of headphones that allow a visitor to listen to any of the three
screens hang on hooks below the case. The first screen plays Plastics
(1944, black and white, sound) and Tupperware commercials (1950's,
color, sound). The second screen shows The Last Word in Automatic
Dishwashing (1950, black and white, sound), Frigidare Finale (1957,
color, sound), and Frigidare Imperial Line (1956, color, sound). The
third plays G.E. Refrigerator commercial (1952, color, sound), A Word
for Wives (c. 1955, color, sound), and Design for Dreaming (1956,
color, sound). These short films are all meant to sell different
aspects of the modern dream kitchen to Americans reveling in the extra
money created by the boom years following World War II.
(picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/43355544@N03/5487292468/)
Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) is featured in the
"Kitchen Sink Dramas" section of Counter Space. The black and white
video is played on a large, boxy television with a flat front, which
sits on a rectangular pedestal, placing the image just below eye level
(pictured below). The video does have sound, which plays out of the
television's speakers, but it can barely be heard over the sound of
other visitors and displays. In Semiotics Rosler imitates the
behaviors of the host of a television cooking show, though she does so
with an angry attitude and never interacts with any food.
(picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/43355544@N03/5486695687/)
Video screens, television sets, and a projector and screen are the
only methods of presentation for moving images in Counter Space. When
I visited on a Wednesday afternoon the exhibit was busy, but not
crowded, and most visitors seemed eager to watch the different moving
image content spread throughout the exhibit space. The crowd was made
up of a variety of ages, from children in strollers pushed parents to
the elderly in wheelchairs guided by caregivers. The exhibit had no
obvious target audience, though most of the moving image content came
from American and Germany, so people from those countries would
presumably have a greater connection to the material than others.
The moving image content brings the exhibit to life. Unlike other
exhibits are art museums, such as MoMA's current Abstract
Expressionist New York, we all have personal experiences with the
subject and types of items on display in Counter Space. We can look
at all the pieces and see if they relate to our memories. However,
the objects and still images alone could just as easily make up an
exhibit at an archeological museum. The idea of Counter Space without
the moving images conjures up something almost sterile. The moving
images help to further engage the visitor in each section, either
through memories of commercials or the critical thinking inspired by
the video art pieces.
Whether or not there is a specific argument to be made by Counter
Space is difficult to tell. If there is any at all it is to place the
evolution of kitchen design in the greater context of modern art, to
legitimize the fact that MoMA has collect so many bowls and tea
kettles over the years. That doesn't mean that there are no
underlying meanings to the exhibit, however. We all create what a
kitchen means for ourselves, based on our own experiences and what we
see or read in the media. What makes up the kitchen is thoroughly
thought over, tested, and aggressively marketed to consumers. By
juxtaposing items, advertisements, and artwork the curators are asking
visitors to think critically about what the space means to them and
how it came to be what it is today. The exhibit urges the visitor to
look for meaning in a room that is part of everyone's everyday life.
(1) "About MoMA." MoMA | The Museum of Modern Art. <http://www.moma.org/about/>.
(2) Roberta Smith, "The Heart That Beats, Heats, Chills and Whips."
New York Times 19 Sept. 2010.
Posted by Dan Streible at 7:53 PM
I attended a screening of Serpico (Sidney Lumet, 1973) at Film Forum. The film only showed for one day, and even though there were four screenings scheduled throughout the day, the attendance at the earliest screening (2 pm) on a weekday was excellent; the house was more than half-full. The film was part of the larger series entitled “Pacino’s 70s”, a one week long program featuring seven films. For the most part, the series is simply programmed so that one film shows each day. Interestingly, the films are not scheduled chronologically.
The presentation was a projection of a decent 35mm film print, by no means a newly-minted print or one of archival standards, but a print that looked good and preserved the somewhat grainy, color-drained look of the film’s on-location-in-New York contemporaries from the 1970s. The series was curated by Film Forum’s long-standing repertory director Bruce Goldstein, although “programmed” might be a more accurate description. The series is arranged around the fact that each film comes from the same decade and features the same performer. The entire “argument” of the program is summarized in the title “Pacino’s 70s” and the only thing the films have in common, at least on the surface, is Al Pacino and the 1970s. The films are presented for the most part without a context or a mission statement; if there are connections between the films, it is up the viewer to find them.
Of course, there are, and we will. The series prominently features several well-known, well-regarded, canonized American directors, including two apiece from Francis Ford Coppola and Sidney Lumet. These films could be organized in any number of programs that would be typical of Film Forum: “New York in the 1970s”, for instance, or “American New Wave” or some other reference to the independent-type ‘New Hollywood’ films made by New York-based auteurs in the era. The fact that the program specifically invokes actor Al Pacino as the common link changes the way the audience views the films, however. If Serpico had been framed as an example of New York in the 1970s, the audience might be more inclined to pay closer attention to the locations, to the documentary nature of some of the scenes and settings, or even to the ideology behind the depiction of the police force and political figures at the core of the story. If the film had been framed within a Sidney Lumet retrospective, one might be inclined to be more aware of the director’s style and choices, or to find connections between the portrayal of corruption in this film and one like 12 Angry Men or Network.
As it is curated, though, all of the attention of the audience is on the performance of the film’s star, Al Pacino. The nuances and extremes of the performance are high-lighted, and I found myself more attuned than usual to the acting style. When I normally might have accepted the character at face value and focused on the story, I was mentally comparing Serpico to the coldly measured Michael Corleone from The Godfather and the unraveling Sonny from Dog Day Afternoon. The series as it was curated focused the attention on one aspect of a multilayered film.
As far as the programming, their were several confusing anomalies. First of all, only one film that Pacino made in the 1970s was missing. Bobby Deerfield, from 1977, was not represented at all. The omission of this film could have several explanations, including that the studio did not possess a print that was worthy of presentation of this fairly obscure film, one that is surely not requested for distribution very often. Alternately, however, it might have been a curatorial decision to omit this film. Possibly Mr. Goldstein felt that the film for whatever reason was not truly representative of Al Pacino’s work in the 1970s, or that the film was not “good” enough to warrant inclusion in the series, or maybe that it was not well-known enough to attract a repertory crowd used to seeing things for the umpteenth time. However the fact that it is missing is unsatisfying, partly because the film was made by prominent director Sydney Pollack and presumably warrants some interest, and partly because it is the only film missing in what would have otherwise been a comprehensive retrospective of Pacino’s work in the 1970s. As it stands, it feels somewhat incomplete, especially when several other fairly obscure films were included.
The logic behind the order of the films is confusing as well. It seems arbitrary at best, and a dedicated audience member who showed up for every screening would be jumping back and forth around the decade. The only thing I can think of is that Mr. Goldstein organized it so that the films he knew would generate larger audiences were screened on days when that audience was available: for instance, the Godfather movies played on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, when he could anticipate that all of the screenings would be well-attended.
As far as additional content other than the films themselves, most of the films had no context or additional material at all. At the last night of the series, there was a discussion scheduled. Jerry Schatzberg, the director of two of the films in the series, was to introduce his film Scarecrow on Thursday night and participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening. The website reports that this event was sold out days before the screening. I think this is very valuable, especially for a lesser known film like Scarecrow. Most of what has been said about The Godfather has been said, and it is encouraging that the Film Forum was able to sell out in advance a discussion about a more obscure film by offering a chance to question the film’s director. I wish I had been able to attend this event.
To offer a bit of contrast, I attended another series that was programmed based on the film’s performers. I saw a screening of To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944) at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey in Jersey City, New Jersey. The film was part of the series called “Bogie and Bacall: Back on the Big Screen” that took place over one weekend. Interestingly, the series is also missing only one film that fits the series’ description, as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall starred in four films together. However, this is due to the scheduling at the Loew’s Jersey, in which three films are shown every month, one on a Friday and two on Saturday. Only able to select three out of the four films, the theater’s director, Colin Egan, explained to the audience on Friday night that Dark Passage was selected over the more well-known Key Largo exactly because fewer people had seen Dark Passage and the theater wanted to offer the audience that opportunity.
In contrast with the Film Forum, the series at the Loew’s Jersey offered a more varied array of content in addition to the scheduled program. First, as a means of presentation, the screening was preceded by a musical performance on the theater’s magnificently restored pipe organ. The organ performance, which precedes every screening in the theater, is a means by which to remain faithful to the way in which the film’s might have been shown in their original run at the time of their release; the theater seeks to act as a time machine to preserve what it would have been like to see movies at the theater before it was modified and ultimately closed down. After the organ overture, the theater’s director, Colin Egan, came out to provide introductory remarks, telling the audience a little bit about the theater and offering a bit of an introduction to the film we were about to see.
Secondly, the film was also preceded by a cartoon short, a surprise to the audience that was not listed on the program or any promotional materials. Slick Hare (Friz Freleng, 1947), a Warner Bros. “Merrie Melodies” cartoon short featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, was shown without introduction. The cartoon featured a caricature of Humphrey Bogart as a main character, with a voice impressionist mimicking Bogart’s famous drawl and the story parodying his “tough guy” image. In the final scene, it is revealed that Bogart is having dinner with Lauren Bacall, and the last shot features a caricature of her as well. This pleasant surprise continued the tradition of emulating what it would have been like to see the films at the time of their release, with a cartoon short preceding the feature, and the fact that they curators found a cartoon from the time period featuring a parody of Bogie and Bacall was very appropriate (and well-received by the audience, who laughed and applauded). The feature itself, presented in front of an ample crowd of well over one hundred, featured spontaneous applause and audible reactions from the audience several times.
Again, placing the film in a series called “Hollywood at War” or “The Free France Movement on Film” or even “Ernest Hemingway Adaptations” would have focused the audience’s attention on very different aspects of the film. Any of these descriptions would have been apt for a program that could have included this film. Framing it as a series centered around actors, however, narrowed the audience’s focus on the chemistry evident in the relationship between its two stars and changed the experience of watching the film. The audience was very attuned to the subtleties of the on-screen romance, audibly reacting to simple aspects of their performances such as glances and pregnant pauses in conversation.
Following the feature, Mr. Egan introduced a friend of the theater, an older man from the area whose name I did not catch who offered some context to the film. His brief discussion was mostly concerned with production history, elaborating on how the film came to be made and its subject material selected by Hawks, and describing the details of the beginning of Bogart and Bacall’s off-screen relationship, which began with this film. His comments were slightly unfocused and tended to wander towards tangents, but much of what he said was information that I did not know before and was valuable. In addition, he briefly fielded questions and comments from audience members following the discussion.
At both screenings, the audience mostly trended older than some other programs, with quite a few elderly people in the audience at each film. This is perhaps inevitable when screening films from the 1970s and 1940s, respectively. In both cases, this type of film presentation is probably closer to “programming” rather than “curating”, as the relationships between the films are very obvious and only contain the most basic form of curatorial “argument”. The minor curatorial choices in film selection (in both cases, choosing to omit one film that would have fit the category) do little to affect the ultimate integrity of the series. However, the extra care to program additional content before and after To Have and Have Not offered a more fully satisfying and engaging program.
Cartoon short Slick Hare (1947): http://tinyurl.com/4nx8nwq
Posted by Dan Streible at 4:17 PM
Feb 22, 2011
LATIN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL at NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
Thursday, February 24th – Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Co-sponsored by NYU King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center (KJCC), NYU Department of Spanish & Portuguese, NYU Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), and NYU Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities.
This non-competitive, non-profit festival presents a unique opportunity to see 12 recent films and documentaries (2007-10) from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay. A number of the films have never been screened in New York and none have had a commercial release in the city.
Film directors will be present at select screenings - for festival schedule and details, check festival site (above).
Free and open to the public (ID required at the entrance)
Organized and curated by Prof. Alexandra Falek and Prof. Juan de Dios Vazquez (NYU Department of Spanish & Portuguese)
Feb 18, 2011
Documentary Fortnight 2011:
MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media
The International Film Selection includes films from 14 countries. The opening and closing films are both debut features by British artists—Gillian Wearing’s Self Made and Clio Barnard’s The Arbor.These exciting new works incorporate acting and drama into examinations of reality. Also featured is renowned Chilean director Patricio Guzman's Nostalgia for the Light, a hauntingly beautiful philosophical rumination on the secrets of the heavens and Earth 10,000 feet above sea level, in Latin America’s Atacama Desert. Documentary Fortnight has also partnered with Cinema Tropical and Ambulante, the celebrated traveling documentary film festival created by Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Pablo Cruz, to present exciting films from Argentina and Mexico that are part of a recent surge of powerful new work from Latin America.
Posted by Dan Streible at 11:09 AM
Feb 17, 2011
Posted by Dan Streible at 11:09 AM
Feb 12, 2011
Pretty simple "argument" to this program (which I guess would be that Bogart and Bacall were a great screen couple, even in different kinds of movies), but I must admit this is the kind of repertory programming I like. Very straightforward -- Bogart and Bacall -- but even if it is not showing obscure or hard to find movies, or movies I wouldn't normally think of together, it is giving me a chance to see a 35mm print of them on the big screen which I wouldn't have anywhere else.
Join us later this month as we pay homage to one of cinema's greatest screen couples: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Of course, seeing a show at the Loew's is always a lot of fun. But being a part of the volunteer team that puts on the show is an experience you'll never forget! Curious? Read more below, just after this month's film schedule.
Friday, February 25 - 8 pm
To Have and Have Not
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan.
Directed by Howard Hawks. (1944, 100 mins.)
This is the movie that brought Bogart and Bacall together – both on screen and off. Bogart is the owner of a charter boat in Vichy-controlled Martinique. Approached by Free French activists, Bogart doesn’t want to stick his neck out for them – until he finds that doing so will help Bacall. While the screenplay by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman owes as much to Casablanca as to the Hemmingway novel they were adapting, it nevertheless is a terrific blend of romance and action leavened with comedy, and Howard Hawks’ direction is, as usual, masterful. But what makes the film truly electric is the unmistakable chemistry that was boiling over for real between Bogart and Bacall as the cameras rolled.
Saturday, February 26 - 6 pm
The Big Sleep
Starring Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall.
Directed by Howard Hawks. (1946, 114 mins.)
One of the most popular noir films and most influential detective movies ever made, The Big Sleep nevertheless has one of the most convoluted scripts of any movie made in classic Hollywood. Director Howard Hawks literally blew past red herrings and possible dead ends by letting dialogue and action spill out so fast that there is barely time to acknowledge, never mind contemplate, a new plot twist. But Hawks did slow down to let the audience fully appreciate the erotic innuendo in the repartee between Bogart's Philip Marlowe and Bacall's Mrs. Rutledge -- performances that were made palpable by the couple's real-life relationship. This was cutting edge stuff for a Hollywood still under the Production Code. It's the combination of this razor sharp sexual edge with the disquieting murky mystery that gives the film its distinctly hot yet cold, dream/nightmare feeling.
Saturday, February 26 - 8:30 pm
Starring Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall.
Directed by Delmar Davis. 1947, 107 mins.
A well constructed Film Noir that is one of the most darkly seductive but seldom revived pairings of Bogart & Bacall. Bogart is a man wrongly accused of his wife's murder who undergoes plastic surgery to conceal his identity. Bacall, more vulnerable here than in other roles, is a lonely heiress who shelters Bogie -- and falls for him -- while he tries to find his wife's real killer. The film makes great use not only of its stars' real life chemistry but also of its San Francisco setting. The Bay Area's hills and winding roads, world-famous bridges and even prison proximity are integral to the story, while the city's mixture of affluence and squalor, misfits and money men give texture to the shadowy atmosphere. The supporting cast more than hold their own, and Director Delmar Davis makes great use of the tight, efficient script. The opening scenes filmed from Bogart's perspective are especially effective, adding a distinct, perhaps even Hitchcock-ian feel. Don't miss this rare chance to see this noir gem on the Big Screen.
Film descriptions are compiled from various sources.
Please note new regular film admission price: $7 adults / $5 children & seniors. Combo-discount pricing available.
Posted by Citizen Dain at 1:38 PM
Feb 11, 2011
Call & Response from the Coop
a cinematic exquisite corpse for two film curators
7:30PM - Saturday
February 26, 2011
Union Docs 322 Union AvenueBrooklyn NY
Kevin Duggan and Joel Schlemowitz, many years after first meeting at Films Charas, co-curate a program of short films from the Film-Makers' Cooperative. The program is selected in the manner of a chess game: Kevin selects the first film, Joel chooses the next film in response, and so on. An exquisite corpse for two film programmers! No curatorial theme! Neither player knows what comes next! What connections will emerge? How will it end?
The opening gambit: Rudy Burckhardt's evocative 1959 portrait of the Lower East Side, "East Side Summer," reflects the spirit of Films Charas, a L.E.S. neighborhood film program and forerunner of today's DIY microcinemas. Founded by filmmakers and activists Doris Kornish and Mathew Seig, and based in the El Bohio Cultural Center, it flourished in the '80s and '90s showing films ranging from political docs to Roger Corman B-movies to local East Village filmmakers to indie features. A frequent guest at Charas, Burckhardt also represents the Coop's mission of preserving and sharing independent and avant-garde film. And so begins our program: what will be the next move?
About Kevin: Kevin is currently Senior Advancement Officer at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC); in addition to Films Charas, over the years he has worked for many independent media and arts organizations. A visual artist exploring natural history (www.kevinduggan.com), he also directed the film "Paterson" (1989), an historical docu-fiction about that city's labor history.
About Joel: In the final year of Films Charas the duties of projectionist were taken up by Joel Schlemowitz. Joel is an experimental filmmaker whose work is available on DVD through microcinemadvd.com and who teaches experimental filmmaking at The New School. Joel's films have received awards at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Screening have included the Tribeca Film Festival and New York Film Festival. For the past three years he has curated the Cine Soiree film series. More information about Joel at www.joelschlemowitz.com
About the Coop: The Film-Makers' Cooperative is the largest archive and distributor of independent and avant-garde films in the world. Created by artists in 1962, as the distribution branch of the New American Cinema Group, the Coop has more than 5,000 films, videotapes and DVDs in its collection.
Posted by Dan Streible at 7:54 AM
Feb 9, 2011
To be continued...
I was about to write about Bar Cinema and Pirate Cinema as well... but realized that this post is becoming surpringly long and boring...too. So I'll post part2 in coming days...!
Posted by June Oh at 8:32 PM
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