Friday, July 02, 2010

Love in July

Strolled the Chelsea openings last night, mostly headed for Christmas in July show at Yvonne Lambert gallery. From the opening window with a whirling xmas tree that trashes is ornaments as they fly across the room, the show did not disappoint. Given the present climate of the artworld, it felt like Christmas was precisely the remedy to the malaise. Few Santas, surprisingly but a lot of trees and lights. Some gestures were forced than others (the red and green Lynda Benglis became a melted tree, or as d questioned "the wicked witch?" Not so much). We popped into Narcissister's neighboring performance in an exhibiition entitled Sirens, mid-go. I'm short and could not make out all that much beyond the wall of homospectators, but the palpable energy and wild gestural grace that we have come to expect from her were well intact. I became aware of her only recently through her fabulous, I'm Every Woman video in which she removes articles of clothing from her birth canal and slinkily slips them on. All to Chaka Kahn, of course. My only available sight last night - Ciss hurling herself against an adolescent bedroom set plastered with teenage male hearthrobs and a pin-up of her own plasticine presence (she wears a plastic mask and tits). She was undulating like a spastic stripper against these fliers, smoothing her fingers over her printed image, then later, over a rubber mask. I can't speak to the nuances of the content, precisely, but her performative agility was remarkable. Other Chelsea treats... not so much. I found myself remarking at one 27th street gallery, "Oh, I forgot... It's July!" Still. There's no excuse.

Hopped over to Envoy Enterprises' Troll group show dedicated to works of art on trolling long enough to hear someone ask if "that's a Francis Bacon?" Then I had some dumplings.

Headed over to Sunshine cinema for the new Tilda Swinton movie, which didn't get very good reviews but looked sumptuous and was described as a remake of Pasolini's Teorema of sorts. This ponderous movie didn't so much irk me as leave me wanting. First-time feature filmmaker Luca Guadagnio knows how to close in on sumptuous objects like food, couture and jewels(or Tilda and her male costars), but he doesn't possess the grace for this glorious meditation on objecthood to amount to much. The film has some rather obtuse ideas about philosophy best summed up in a sequence that Fred Halstead did 10 times better in his LA Plays Itself (1972). Tilda and her truly beautiful beau make love in the wilderness. See, she's tethered to this family rooted in commerce (they're benevolent fabric factory owner) and he's a chef who brings out the essential flavors of earthy foods like eggplant. So when they fuck, Guadagnio's camera looms close on Tilda's imperfect form and white flesh, contrasted with images of the delicate creatures of nature, beetles, bugs and lovely things frolicking amongst the sunkist soil. Brooks run and grass sways. And then we cut to a business deal done over the London skyline. It's a cut so abrupt (though welcome from the plodding editing of the love scene) and obvious in its message that you lose interest in much of the auteur potential of the film, since all of the issues are handled with this clumsy literalness.

The bulbous ending has something of affect to it, but it SO wins this year's A Single Man award for attempting to employ OTT music to do the work for you. Swinton scampers up to the house, not unlike Laura Betti in Teorema, and there's some interesting energy exhibited in the film's closing, but the divide between these rose-tinted figures of emancipation (who clutch palms to their love-filled bellies as a solidarity pact) and the stoic Italian family is an argument placed in such obvious terms that it nullifies any of the pseudo-lofty ideas about love that Guadagnio might have. It made me yearn for the Carringtons, who, contrasted with this flic, did keep it all in the family - Blake and Crystal were at once both these things. Leaving Tilda to vanish into a gold-hued carpet as if a glint of love, herself, rematerializing, yes, literally, in the cave of love with her amore. Love love love...

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