Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Last night I watched Patti Smith: Dream of Life. I also watched it the night before that. It is really intimate, and yet still a performance; it is a documentary made in collaboration between director and performer over the course of a decade. It is weird and kind of messy and often really beautiful. People appear and disappear inexplicably, age and change dramatically over the course of the film. Relationships remain mysterious, lovers are hinted at but not announced. At different points throughout the film, I alternately admired Patti, wished she would stop being so pretentious, applauded her, mourned for her, was impressed by her, and couldn't believe how good her hair looked in the 70's (I got up and chopped at my own bangs while I was watching it the first time). I also couldn't help but notice how charming and girlish she is when she's tickled by something, how appealing. You wouldn't think that such a giggle would come out of her, but there it is. So disarming.
And then there are the clips of her performing live, which are the nucleus of the story. However close you might come to her, however vulnerable she might seem, as soon as she steps on the stage she becomes the wild, raw, raucus and incredible performer that she is. And the music. It's just so good. Overall, I came away thinking that whatever she needs to do to keep willing herself into being the dreamer and the poet and the force that she is, so be it.
Long live Patti, survivor supreme.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
So to continue the thought...I just can't believe that I didn't find a way to insert Chuck Berry into a show about rock and roll. It dawned on me in the middle of the night, like things do, and I sat up with a start. I felt a bit fraudulent for a while there, but I guess as a curator you can't control all the content of the work, just respond and support and compile. However, I will have to write about him for my catalog essay for sure.
On the other hand, there's this:
On the other hand, there's this:
Friday, October 2, 2009
I found this great post on a blog called 16 Miles of String about watching Dan Graham's "Rock My Religion" at the Whitney Museum show. I felt the same way...I wanted to stay the full hour too, but had to move on with my fast-paced class. Maybe I'll get to go back.
From 16 Miles:
In the first ten minutes of Rock My Religion, Dan Graham discusses folk music, Puritans, Shakers, Ann Lee, the industrial revolution, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, hardcore punk, Glenn Branca, Quakers, Rimbaud, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, opium, henna, eighteenth century American history, dancing in religious ceremonies, and Minor Threat. From there, it only gets better.
It is showing on a loop as part of Dan Graham: Beyond at the Whitney right now, and it's the best video I have ever seen in an art gallery. Graham dissects youth subculture with historical and sociological lenses, then packages the whole sui generis creation with grainy handheld footage and clumsy computer title cards. Then doesn't sound like the recipe for a hit, but it coheres perfectly. Almost every person who walked into the room showing the video stayed for the full hour.