Thursday, May 14, 2020

Raúl Ruiz "Mysteries of Lisbon" Virtual Theatrical Exhibition at Lincoln Center: May 22

Ranking highly on numerous films of the decade lists, Film Comment, The Playlist and my own included, in 2010 Chilean director Raúl Ruiz assembled a epic duration human comedy to surpass that of Honoré de Balzac. Spanning three generations, dozens of characters, seven narrative voices, a whole century of intrigue, mountains of scandal, war, loss, misery, revelation, piracy, mystery, romantic conquest, the high seas, early colonialism, the coming of the age of science, 19th century decadence, and the subverting of class hierarchies, "Mysteries of Lisbon" is what many considered the masterpiece of a filmography playfully brimming with abundance, ideas, and form. Set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, which circuitously navigating across the territory of all of the above, the film like much of Ruiz, is in a sense instead about the mechanics of storytelling and the unbound nature of imagination. Taking in Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and the aristocratic eccentricity of characters that populate the novels of Thomas De Quincey, with generous dashes of tonal references to Marcel Proust’s “unfilmable” novel “À la Recherche du Temps Perdu”, (which incidentally, Ruiz adapted to film in 1999), this cinematic subverting of the period costume drama shifts in a continual spiral that is less a matter of digressions, than the irresistible lure of storytelling. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Camilo Castelo Branco, who's work is often compared to a hybrid of Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Leo Tolstoy, Ruiz weaves a set of characters from diverse class origins in 18th to mid-19th century Portugal and France into the tapestry of a social and political farce of delirious design. Showing in a limited screening as part of the exclusive virtual cinema programming offered by Lincoln Center, this will be the domestic debut of this work in the totality of it's 333 minute run time. Now released ten years after the Ruiz' theatrical cut, for the first time in an English subtitled edition supplied by Music Box Films.

Further stylistic and thematic points of reference specifically can be found in past and contemporary works as disparate as Stanley Kubrick's cynical 18th century socio-political comedy, “Barry Lyndon”, Whit Stillman's postmodern 19th century play of manners, "Love & Friendship", Federico Fellini's delirious descent into "The City of Women", and both the classic Roger Vadim "Dangerous Liaisons", as well as Stephen Frears adaptation from the 1980s. Most significantly, it is literature and the more adventurous representations of 19th century's novel's extended storytelling form, that can be seen to express themselves vividly through Ruiz' tapestry. One can clearly find representations of Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo", the novels and short stories of Jorge Borges, the previously referenced central pivots of Proust's "Time Regained" and the human comedy novels of Balzac. But let it not be said that Ruiz is a product of his inspirations and influences, but instead it is his own elegant intellectual gamesmanship and weaving of a elaborate historical fantasy which matches even these great works, and can be seen in Richard Brody's New Yorker review of "Raúl Ruiz Adaptation of Marcel Proust’s Masterwork". It can also be witnessed in J.Hoberman's "Revived and Still Luxurious: Raúl Ruiz’ Search for Proust", overview of Lincoln Center's 2018 Ruiz Retrospective, and in the larger body of writing on the life and work of this "Mild-Mannered Maniac" as he was called by the New York Times. Following his death in 2011, there have been a number of such assessments of his filmic oeuvre and the life of this rather singular artist and individual, but it is the entrancingly strange, beautifully eccentric fable of Ruiz' (possibly) final film in "The One Thousand and One Nights of Raúl Ruiz", by which he should be considered. That is, until there's opportunity to see the long-developed 1990 project "The Wandering Soap Opera", reveal what will possibly be his last, and among the greatest, of the "Excursions into Raúl Ruiz’s Fertile Mind", through it's restoration, and the "Art and Craft: Recovering a Film (and a Nation)".

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Seattle Art Fair: 2020 Edition Cancellation | ArtsFund and Artist Trust Emergency Relief & GiveBig Washington A Call for Support: May 5 - 6

This is a year of unprecedented cancellations and postponements among the spectrum of global art fair events. Where once, "Art Biennials Were Testing Grounds. Now They Are Being Tested". For a self-apparent set of reasons, major shows like Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Basel Switzerland, Art Brussels, Art Paris, Art Cologne, Dallas Art Fair, Prospect New Orleans Triennial, Arte Buenos Aires, Bienal de São Paulo, and Frieze New York have been postponed until later dates or outright cancelled. In the case of Frieze New York, there being a small consolation offered with the launching of a "virtual gallery" opening May 8th featuring more than 200 galleries presenting major works by established and emerging artists. Our own Seattle Art Fair hasn't fared quite as well, facing simply a full-scale cancellation until next year's installment. These all in relation of course to the financial and cultural fallout of the pandemic, creating dire funding and sustainability questions for large and small arts institutions alike. Situations like, "MoMA and New Museum Among NY Institutions Cutting Jobs to Curb Deficits", "SFMoMA to Lay Off or Furlough More Than Three Hundred Employees", "Furloughs and Job Cuts Hit The Broad", "Mass Layoffs at Lincoln Center", "MoMA PS1 Facing its ‘Most Serious Financial Crisis’ Ever", "Guggenheim Museum Projecting $10 M. Shortfall", "New York’s Whitney Museum Expecting $7 M. Shortfall", "After Losing $19 M., Brooklyn Museum Joins other Arts Organizations in Applying for Federal Aid", aren't the exception, but instead the norm. In response, hundreds of galleries, nonprofits, arts and cultural institutions in New York alone have banded together to "Petition NYC to Aid Galleries Amid Covid-19 Pandemic", all the while, "Mayor de Blasio’s Budget for 2021 Significantly Cuts NYC’s Arts Funding". A small gesture of relief is the development of the, "Museum Association Eases Rules on How Institutions Can Use Funds Amid Covid-19 Pandemic", which will aid cultural institutions have have applied for and received federal assistance to apply these essential funds to their specific state-by-state contextual particulars.

There's also the philanthropic work of efforts like the ArtistRelief grant, which to-date has worked to generate funds for creators and artists specifically. With galleries, museums, and programmed shows now cancelled, this "Covid-19 Relief Fund to Give $10 Million to Artists" will be the only revenue that many artists receive. Returning to regional concerns, while Paul Allen's Vulcan, the parent company of the Vulcan Arts + Entertainment and Seattle Art Fair will likely weather this period, many of our other local arts institutions will not. The pandemic’s ensuing economic and cultural shutdown has created a revenue abyss for these institutions which exist on a precipice of funding even during good times. Seattle ArtsFund have created the COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund, and alongside the Artist Trust relief fund, they have generated millions in response. These factors also make this year's annual nonprofit GiveBig donation days, spanning May 5th to 6th, of the highest significance. Widely recognized and essential cultural institutions like Seattle Symphony, Frye Art Museum, Scarecrow Video, Earshot Jazz, SIFF, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Theatre Group, Henry Art Gallery, regional smaller cinemas and nonprofit music venues like The Grand Illusion Cinema, Northwest Film Forum, On The Boards, The Vera Project, and Nonsequitur, are all in need. Or consider giving directly to the gallerists and artists under the Vital 5 Productions umbrella and their work toward some of the most notable and aspirant reconceptions of arts exhibition, funding, and urban spaces for work, to be found around the city in the last decade. These are just a few institutions to consider among countless others, too multitudinous to name, who will be in need of your generosity regardless of the particulars. Your outward financial appreciation of the value of these spaces will be bolstered in many cases through shared GiveBig donation matching. Amid the "Frantic Fundraising, Relief that Can’t Meet Demand: Artists and Arts Groups Scramble Amid Coronavirus Crisis", if you are able, make this week a contextual framing for essential giving. Photo credit: Gagosian Gallery