Movies are the subject in art show
A new exhibit at Reed College is further proof that movies have a stronghold on the imagination.
'Film Show: From Hollywood to Bollywood and Back' is a multimedia exhibit by American and international artists. Using everything from videotape to Rorschach ink blots, the artists ruminate on works by Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and other film legends.
The subject matter ranges from American classics such as 'The Jazz Singer' (1927) to the films of Bollywood, a nickname for India's cinema industry.
Rupert Jenkins, director of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, curated 'Film Show.' His aim was to balance accessible works with elusive, conceptual works.
'The video installations immediately draw people in,' he says. For instance, Les LeVeque's '2 Spellbound' takes Hitchcock's 'Spellbound' and turns it into a visual acid trip. LeVeque reverses every other frame in the original film and sets the fluttery stream of images to a pulsing techno soundtrack.
While 'Spellbound 2' is a visual thrill, some pieces have a cold, academic feel. For his meditation on Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni, Jesse Amado typed the English subtitles from 'La A'vventura' on plastic label tape. The blue, black and red strips of dialogue are attached to canvases on the gallery wall. The display has no aesthetic attributes; removed from the visuals of the film, the text is the next best thing to a sleeping pill.
Ryan Stone's 'My Ex, Stanley' has a terrific premise but fails to deliver the goods. Stone, a die-hard Kubrick fan, attempts to cleanse himself of his obsession by shutting his Kubrick memorabilia away in an opaque white cube. A still image from 'The Shining' and the poster art for 'A Clockwork Orange' are barely visible through the plastic.
'It's a paradoxical piece,' Jenkins explains. 'Stone is unable to completely rid himself of Kubrick. The cube is inaccessible.' By creating such an inscrutable work, Stone ensures that most viewers ÑÊeven Kubrick fans Ñ will cruise right by it.
Photographs by Japanese artist and model Yasumasa Morimura help 'Film Show' regain its momentum. Dressed as Marilyn Monroe, he emulates the iconic image in which a breeze lifts her dress. This Marilyn, though, has a surprise in store under her dress.
While some might accuse Morimura of scoring easy shock value points, the glossy image succeeds as an irreverent assault on 1950s gender norms.
The caliber of artwork in 'Film Show' is uneven. But on the whole, the exhibit will entertain anyone with a soft spot for celluloid.