Thursday, September 15, 2005

Roth, Bus, Humanity

An exhausting trip to MoMA today, mostly because of three singular and very absorbing experiences in a row. First, I stumbled upon the Dieter Roth installation Solo Scenes (1997-8), which consists of a whole lot of televisions playing DVDs of footage Roth took of himself as he worked in his studio, slept, thought, read, ate, showered, talked on the phone, etc. I was absolutely stunned and don't know why except that I can mumble something to myself that sounds vaguely and inadequately humanist. (I missed the MoMA Roth retrospective last year, so my knowledge of his highly diverse output was sketchy enough to begin with.)

Then there was Hiroshi Shimizu's gently insistent Arigato-san (Mr. Thank You), followed by Sadao Yamanaka's pessimistic, gorgeous Humanity and Paper Balloons. These are films which help pad out the view of classical Japanese cinema, what it can be and do, existing somewhere off the dimensional field created by Kurosawa/Ozu/Mizoguchi--which can be oppressive, even if you love all three of those filmmakers.

I'd like to talk about any or all of these in some detail, but I feel incredibly spent, suffering from a slight strain of active viewing (coupled with a hint of Stendhal syndrome), and can't find the words for each experience. My high recommendations to the two films and the installation ...

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