Thursday, July 6, 2023

"The Dirty Stories of Jean Eustache" at SIFF Cinema: Jul 14 - 23

In an atypical move, SIFF Cinema have adopted the totality of the retrospective of "Jean Eustache: A Rarely Seen French Director", from the premiere of the Janus Films series run at New York's Lincoln Center. As the Film Society at Lincoln Center put it; "Few filmmakers have captured the sheer sorrow and humor of being alive in a time and place more majestically than Jean Eustache. A fellow traveler of Cahiers du Cinéma in the late 1950s, Eustache was a satellite figure of the ascendant Nouvelle Vague while it was revolutionizing the aesthetics and aesthetic politics of narrative cinema. But he emerged in the second half of the 1960s as a singularly formidable filmmaker in his own right, directing several fiction films and documentaries before producing one of French cinema’s all-time masterpieces, the titanic and epochal "The Mother and the Whore". This film is considered the centerpiece of any Jean Eustache retrospective, “It’s a historical marker in a way that few other films are,” wrote Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader; “not only the nail in the coffin of the French New Wave and one of the strongest statements about the aftermath of the failed French revolution of May 1968, but also a definitive expression of the closing in of Western culture after the end of the era generally known as the ’60s.” At the time of the release of this new restoration by Les films du Losange, Richard Brody wrote for The New Yorker, "'The Mother and the Whore', Newly Restored, Still Overwhelming". In which he states; "It’s overwhelming in its length and in its emotional intensity. It’s a self-consuming masterwork that seems to burn itself up as it passes through the projector. It’s a film of rage and self-punishment, of arrogance and humiliation and, ultimately, of ferocious irony about pleasure and power, desire and submission. What’s original in its style is the sheer profusion of dialogue, which exceeds in quantity, density, and tone even the talk in contemporaneous films by Éric Rohmer."

Richard Brody continues by saying; "Where Rohmer’s cinematic language is dialectical, Eustache’s is torrential. The characters in “The Mother and the Whore” don’t so much talk with each other or even at each other as bare their souls verbally and pour out confessions in soliloquies - especially the movie’s protagonist, Alexandre, as played by Jean-Pierre Léaud." In this "Threesome and Then Some", as it was put by The New York Times, Léaud's Alexandre is a creature of impulses and monstrous in his insistence. Adopting and discarding attitudes, he is given to absurd, self-hypnotizing rants that fascinate Veronika, charm Marie, and repulse the viewer. He conceives himself as a dandy who reads Proust and listens to Édith Piaf, and his obsession with the past, mainly the aborted revolution of 1968, is the focus of his delusions. Yet, as established by Roger Ebert in his 1999 review; "The first time I saw "The Mother and the Whore," I thought it was about Alexandre. After a viewing of the newly restored print being released for the movie's 25th anniversary, I think it is just as much about the women, and about the way that women can let a man talk endlessly about himself while they regard him like a specimen of aberrant behavior. The film made an enormous impact when it was released. It still works a quarter-century later because it was so focused on its subjects, and lacking in pretension. It is rigorously observant, the portrait of an immature man and two women who humor him for a while, paying the price that entails". Here in this series, framing the above masterwork SIFF presents the totality of , "The Dirty Stories of Jean Eustache", which features the titular "A Dirty Story", alongside, "Robinson’s Place", "Le Cochon", "Numéro Zéro", "The Virgin of Pessac", Eustache's own remake "The Virgin of Pessac '79", and "My Little Loves". The latter, on which The New Yorker's Richard Brody weighed in again, offers a summation of the series as a whole; “In Eustache’s loamy, holistic vision, the events are shaped less by the demands of drama than by the meanderings of consciousness itself."

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Seattle Art Fair at Lumen Field Event Center: Jul 27 - 30 | Jónsi "FLÓÐ" at The National Nordic Museum: Mar 17 - Jul 30 | Forest for the Trees at RailSpur: Jul 27 - Aug 3

After a two year hiatus, Seattle Art Fair returned in the summer of 2022, with a new artistic director under the aegis of Art Market Productions who announced that they would continue as sole owner and producer. This was due to the passing of Paul Allen in 2018, wherein the future of Allen's founding of numerous cultural and arts institutions, and significant philanthropic contribution to the city, were made uncertain. By 2020, it was established that Allen's Vulcan corporation would no longer be investing in their cultural branch, with the explicit message sent by the shuttering of their arts and entertainment division, and the layoff of all related staff. This would of course translate as "Vulcan Closes its Arts + Entertainment Division, which Includes Cinerama and Seattle Art Fair". Producing a cascade of concerns related to arts funding and the venues under Vulcan's purview. Most significantly, the question of the  Seattle Cinerama, one of only three movie theaters in the world still capable of showing three-panel Cinerama films, project 70mm celluloid, and present digital ultra-high resolution films in Dolby Atmos Sound. This threat to the longevity of the almost one-of-a-kind venue was only resolved this past May with the announcement in the Seattle Times that, “SIFF Buys Cinerama, Plans Reopening", through a deal with the Paul G. Allen estate, reopening of the cinema is scheduled as soon as this fall. In the case of Seattle Art Fair, it is now wholly run by Art Market Productions, after the inaugural success of its four year run under Vulcan Arts + Entertainment. On the eve of the fair's 2015 launch, there was abundant speculation as to the nature of the exhibit local philanthropist Paul Allen and the organization he had assembled with Max Fishko of Art Market Productions, would be bringing to the city. At the time there was little that offered insight beyond the press release, which made it out to be half-commercial gallery, half-curated exhibition, featuring some 60 galleries representing local to international dealers with an emphasis on the Pacific Rim.

The majority of the dialog focused on the fair's relation to the art market, with Brian Boucher's "Why Are Gagosian, Pace, and Zwirner Signing On for the Seattle Art Fair?" and The Observer's "Paul Kasmin and Pace Gallery Join the Inaugural Seattle Art Fair" leading the discussion. With later pieces like Seattle Times "High Art Meets Deep Pockets at Seattle Art Fair", as well as the New York Times recap, "Seattle Art Fair Receives a Boost From Tech’s Big Spenders", and ArtNews "Why the Seattle Art Fair Is Important for the Art World", positioning the event in relationship to the moneyed local tech industry. All of which were little more than discussions of the art market and the inclusion of some of the gallery world's international power players. For insight into the curatorial direction and work to be featured, one had to rely on regional media in which there was no small supply of skepticism expressed concerning the fair being another of Paul Allen's pet cultural projects, both for the good and the bad. The extent of the fair's scope became apparent opening weekend with favorable coverage in both the New York Times and Artforum. The exhibitions and galleries drawn from Asia were among the three day event's greater successes. In addition to the participating galleries Kaikai Kiki and Koki Arts from Tokyo, along with Gana Art of Seoul and Osage Gallery from Hong Kong, the "Thinking Currents" wing curated by Leeza Ahmady, director of Asia Contemporary Art Week produced a premier exhibition of video, film and sound work exploring themes related to the cultural, political, and geographical parameters of the Pacific Rim. With Kaikia KiKi head, Takashi Murakami returning for the fair's second installment, programming his own satellite exhibition "Juxtapoz x SuperFlat", for Pivot Art + Culture.

As covered by Trinie Dalton in, "Pacific Objects", for Artforum, "Seattle Art Fair and Out of Sight made a Return" on the occasion of the fair's second year. Continuing the trend of atypical and non-traditional gallery works, the fourth annual Art Fair presented Mark Pauline the founder of Survival Research Laboratories, joining influential science fiction author Bruce Sterling in conversation. The author and the outsider artist, technologist and robotics specialist have intersected on previous occasions, notably 20 years prior in the pages of Wired, for "Is Phoenix Burning?". The cultural and economic landscape that Pauline operates in now is quite different than that of the early 1980s, presenting a new set of challenges to his performative art. So there's logic at work in that Pauline would now align himself with gallery culture, and the contextualized space of its presentation. As Wired said, "artistic respectability doesn’t so much beckon as envelop", in response to The New York Times' "Fire-Breathing Robots Bringing Anarchy to a Chelsea Art Gallery". The 2018 installment also saw artistic director, Laura Fried, succeeded by Nato Thompson. For ArtNews, Thompson went on to explain the approach in his curatorial statement, for the 2019 edition which featured works and talks by the Center for PostNatural History, largescale video artists Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib, architecture and installation creators, Bigert & Bergström, and choreographer Morgan Thorson. For Seattle Art Fair's seventh installment, artistic director Nato Thompson returns, with this year's edition looking to present a series of specific works by Lauren Bon, Jeffrey Gibson, Eunsun Choi, Sasha Stiles, Marita Dingus, Sharita Towne, Tariqa Waters, Catalina Ouyang, Fox Whitney, and a installation by Dinos Chapman, a prominent artist from the Young British Artists movement. As a duo with his brother Jake Chapman, Dinos work has been characterized by Wired as, "What if Satan and Hitler Opened a MacDonald's in Hell?". The final weekend in July, "Seattle Art Fair Pushes the Boundaries of Artistic Expression", with a voluminous body of galleries, more than 70 in total, along with on-and-off site discussions, projects and and open studio events. Elsewhere in the city on the weekend of Art Fair, there are six major satellite events to take in representing regional work, including the return of the Forest For the Trees exhibition. And across town, the National Nordic Museum hosts the immersive audiovisual installation space "FLÓÐ" by Sigur Rós member, Jón Þór Birgisson through the end of the month. Photo credit Pinault Collection.