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‘Redistribution’ Review: An Art World Figure Tries to ‘Evacuate Cinema’


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There is little point in assessing “Redistribution” as a movie, even an experimental one — and that seems to be the idea. Billed by the Metrograph as a “hybrid, open-form essay film,” it had its origins in a video of a lecture that the artist Seth Price delivered at the Guggenheim in 2007. Price has since used that recording as glue for this wider-ranging video collage, which has evolved over the years and been presented in multiple versions. What is screening at the Metrograph is a moving target.

Right now, the piece exists somewhere between installation art — it can be engaged with in excerpts, and its duration is irrelevant — and a compilation of artist talks. But if calling “Redistribution” less than cinema sounds condescending, Price addresses the matter directly.

He divides film and video work in the art world into two categories: the performative and the cinematic. He says he wondered “how to make a work that would evacuate cinema and also this idea of performance of the artist.” If evacuating cinema means engaging with the medium’s properties in only the silliest ways — mismatching subtitles with images and voices with speakers — Price certainly does that.

His art has explored reproduction in the internet era — such as in a video, addressed here, made from the images that a search engine returned for “painting.” That there is already a tradition of reappropriation in experimental film, by artists as great as Ken Jacobs and Bruce Conner, is outside either Price’s knowledge or the faintly arbitrary parameters he has set. Originality surely isn’t his goal, but it’s not something he has achieved, either.

Redistribution

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes.


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