An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps

January 12, 2010 · Print This Article

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Map charting Robert Frank's route while shooting The Americans

During the month of January the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts a series that spotlights new works of documentary films in a series called, Stranger Than Fiction: Documentary Premiers. For this month we will check out a couple of films including Mine, Prodigal Sons, and this week’s pick, An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps.

Directed by Philippe Seclier, An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps documents the filmmaker’s attempt to capture scenes from Swiss photographer Robert Frank’s seminal work The Americans. Published in 1959, the book first came under criticism before it was heralded as a body of work that portrayed a complex portrait of American life on the cusp of the 60s. Beginning his journey after winning a Gugenheim Fellowship Frank traveled 15,000 miles documenting a side of America that typically was not portrayed in photography at the time.

While meeting with friends and collegues we get a better idea of how the artist worked. Primarily editing from contact sheets and often throwing away unwanted negatives Frank appeared to have an intuitive approach when it came to selecting his frames. A scene that really stands out in the film happens near the beginning when we get a chance to see the mauquette Frank put together for the first edition. It’s worn down and dirty but the object almost feels as if it reflects many of the subjects within the series, humble, dignified, and underrepresented.

I have to give Seclier some credit, he knows how long to make a doc. Clocking in at only 60 minutes, the film, although filmed with a handheld (which I hate), quickly moves through the American landscape. It is unclear if he visited every location from the book but after viewing a handful it would be hard to show all without feeling repetitive.  Although we walk away with small stories about Frank’s travel it is not a particularly powerful portrait of the artist. Instead, we are left with the notion of changing landscapes, urbanization, and mortality.

An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps will be playing:
Thursday, January 14th at 6:00pm
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60601-3505
(312) 846-2600

Tuesday’s Video Pick | French Star Wars

January 12, 2010 · Print This Article

If you  have never watched any of these videos and have the smallest notion of the Star Wars galaxy; then,  I would highly recommend watching all of this video. The French had a really great grasp of what Lucas was doing wrong. Screw the Jedi, any plot, or any other characters beside Darth Vader and C3PO. Fucking C3PO, the pussiest of all Star Wars Characters! Thanks to Michael Czerepak for sending this my way.

This is the only info that I could get translated and it is pretty shaky to say the least:

“If star Wars had been Frenchman…
And definitely this would have had of the face…
When they think that Lucasfilm dared to take out five nouvels opus after this frenchy masterpiece”

Interview with Edra Soto: Heaven, Hell and ‘the Jesus of Dogs’

January 11, 2010 · Print This Article

In Memory of Who I Was

“Forever Vegetal” is the head-scratching title given to two concurrent solo shows at Roots and Culture featuring new work by Brian McNearney and Edra Soto. The exhibition opened earlier in December and will close this weekend on January 16th. Over the weekend I spoke (o.k., emailed with) Edra Soto about the new works she created for the exhibition, which tackle all the Big Issues:  Life and Death, Heaven and Hell, Roman Catholicism, Michael Jackson’s pet mouse Ben, and Soto’s loveable canine, Foster, aka “the Jesus of Dogs.”

Your show at Roots and Culture begins with a piece that takes the form of a shrine and is titled “In Memory of Who I Was.” To me it seems to frame the entire show.

Edra Soto: “In Memory of Who I Was” is a shrine that commemorates my innocence, my past and the person I will never be again. I was also trying to make a memorial for myself as form of representing a transition. It’s never been a problem for me to find ways of representing art, but when I’ve been involved in great projects that have taken a lot of time and emotional investment, like my latest show at the MCA, it was making perfect sense for me to “kill myself” theoretically, to be able to speak about something different. There are a few transitional pieces in the show.
Initially, I was trying to make an art piece that compiled photos of me from childhood to the present, and have a small memorial of who I was until yesterday. I have explored the concept of time passing with memorials, like in A Year In Review and Landfill exhibited at Gallery 400 and Memorial at Polvo, all in 2005. [Read more]

The Developing LA-MOCA/Deitch Controversy

January 11, 2010 · Print This Article

The art press and art blogosphere are all a-Twitter over an article in last Friday’s L.A. Times suggesting that New York big-man art dealer Jeffrey Deitch is among the top candidates for the directorship of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. You’ll recall that MOCA has been without a leader (save for Eli Broad’s not so behind-the-scenes machinations) since Jeremy Strick resigned in disgrace over his poor handling of MOCA’s finances, which nearly ran the institution into the ground. [Read more]

Proximity Magazine Names BaS “Best Website for Local Arts Coverage”

January 8, 2010 · Print This Article

proximity magazine award
Proximity Magazine Names BaS “Best Website for Local Arts Coverage” and says some very kind words:

Bad at Sports should have received a a grant from the XYZ foundation last year to help them make their art podcast website a real day job. But the powers that be often sleep on what is engaging, innovative and important in favor of the familiar, lame and business as usual. Bad At Sports was our top local art resource of the year. Thank you guys.

No thank you Ed, Rachael & everyone at Proximity and the Public Media Institute. We really apriciate the kind words and look forward to 2010 and what Proximity Magazine has in the works.

Also we have taken your advice and hired a few free interns to track down this XYZ foundation and get that grant asap. I can only assume that the Xavier Young Ziebold award is biennial so maybe next year :)