Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Cinema Effect Part II: Realisms

Okay, I'm over my head here. Ron and I went to see this exhibit at the Hirshhorn. The exhibit ends Sunday, September 7. The show consists of seventeen installations and two films. Many of the installations are thought-provoking, a few are just weird.

Film has a peculiar power to seduce us. If we recognize a celluloid image, it is real. If we recognize a type in a film, we make an analogy to what we know, and again, the image is real. Several of the artists touch on this theme about how realism affects our perception of the film, but film creates a realism that shapes our reality, too.

Some of the standout installations are Lonely Planet, Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story!, and The Simpson Verdict. A couple of other installations that I did not have an opportunity to watch completely, but looked interesting were John and The Third Memory.

The Hirshhorn takes on challenging exhibitions. Because it is a museum of modern art, the exhibitions demand the attention and concentration of the viewer. (I was exhausted when I left the exhibit.) I'm not particularly a culture guy or an art aficionado. I also suffer from a certain mental laziness (which my readers already know about). So I found this exhibit often inaccessible. I wanted to connect with the works that I saw, but many of them had me feeling like Homer Simpson. And maybe it would have helped had I drank a couple of beers before going.

I know I won't get back to this exhibit before it closes on Sunday, and I'm sorry for that, because it had a few precious connections between me and some patterns of light playing on a screen that I'd like to explore. The Simpson Verdict is an arresting animation of the courtroom announcement of the Simpson murder trial verdict, using the actual courtroom dialogue.

Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story! is a must see for anyone who watches E! or reads true life mags about the stars. The work has a compelling movieland realism complete with ick, sex (straight and gay), bad language, aging divas, and movie critics. Incidentally Marlene and The Third Memory also have gay themes that not so subtlety inform their realism.

I came away from the exhibition feeling disappointed, and wondering what did I see? But on reflection saw more than I thought, and am wistful about what I missed.