New York Journal 2.
I’m not Catholic—or even Christian—but I’ve always had the special gift of guilt. Having given sixty grad midterms last week, I brought them on vacation with me, resolving to grade for an hour or two each day. On Wednesday I discovered that the tests were still untouched at the bottom of my suitcase, so I dusted them off and spent half the day making a good bit of headway.
Feeling a bit lighter, I headed to the Guggenheim in the afternoon to see the exhibit by sculptor David Smith. Here’s one cool idea I picked up that's probably common knowledge but was new to me: Apparently, one of Picasso’s great contributions to sculpture was to envision it as an “open construction”—meaning, a sculpture didn’t have to imply a central mass of solidity which was then “carved” to create the work. Instead, a sculpture could be open and airy, without leading us to think of an “absence” at its center. Pretty neat notion.
That night, I fully intended to head uptown to a jazz club called Smoke for “Hammond B-3 Night”. But I found myself tucked in at 9 pm, knocked out from the recent flurry of recreational exertions. Thursday morning, Aaron and I went to a New Directors/New Films press screening of Quinceanera, a Sundance award winner that turned out to be a modest but conventional Latino teen-focused drama that didn’t make a huge impression.
Since the screening was conveniently at the MoMA—the first time I’ve been there since the museum moved back to Manhattan from Queens over a year ago—I spent the rest of the day seeing the Edvard Munch exhibit and an interesting contemporary art show called Take Two: Worlds And Views. In the latter, one piece remains hard to shake: a nine-minute animated film called Felix In Exile by South African artist William Kentridge. Here’s how he made the film: he drew with charcoal, positioned a camera at the other end of the room, snapped an image or two, then walked over to the drawing, erased part of it and drew over it, and walked back to photograph it once again. Hundreds of times. So, the single drawing he was left with at the end of the process of making the film was…the very last image of the film.
In the evening, I met up with Zach and his friend Ryan at Anthology Film Archives to catch Alexander Kluge’s The Middle Of The Road Is A Very Dead End (1974). Afterwards, we went out to a Japanese restaurant in the vicinity of Kim’s Video. Inebriated by all the movie-talk (Blake Edwards, Robert Mulligan and Andre de Toth swirled in the air)—not to mention plain inebriated—I took the train uptown instead, ending up in strange and unfamiliar territory in the middle of the night. Back to Brooklyn without incident.
Friday, to the IFC Center to see the excellent documentary Darwin’s Nightmare. (Planes carry hundreds of tons of fish caught in Lake Victoria daily to Europe. Meanwhile, the people who live all around the lake die of famine, disease and poverty. The most pointed and intelligently made documentary on the ill effects of globalization that I've seen; I need to order the DVD for my college library as soon as it comes out.) In the evening, Filmbrain and I went to a press screening of the new Matthew Barney film with Björk, Drawing Restraint 9. Afterwards, I mentioned that I’d never tasted Korean food, and soon we were in the heart of the Korean district on 32nd Street, at a barbecue table with soju and a large spread of small dishes, including kimchi. Thanks to the 'Brain for this unforgettably delectable rite of initiation.