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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

When Caveh [Zahedi] met Bruce (Conner) (who didn't meet Louise [Brooks])

This frame grab makes me intensely happy, and artist/experimental filmmaking great Bruce Conner has to be the coolest 72-year-old of the week: Conner still makes art (often under a variety of pseudonyms and heteronyms) and Caveh Zahedi reports on the briefest of conner by zahedi35_56.jpgencounters (with a snip of video) from Conner introducing a show of Pabst’s Pandora’s Box: “[T]he main reason I went was because experimental film legend Bruce Conner was introducing the film… When I was in college, I spent two full days at Anthology Film Archives in New York watching their entire library of canonical experimental films… [T]hey were showing the entire library to a film scholar who was writing a book… and they let me sit in… It was just me and this guy in a darkened room for two days, watching one experimental classic after another.” Along withJoseph Cornell‘s Rose Hobart, Zahedi was struck by Conner’s Report. “Both of these films sent me in a whole new direction in my filmmaking. Along with the work of Godard and, later, Ed Pincus, these were probably my biggest cinematic influences…” In the tiny clip [pictured], Conner talks about he and Brooks being from Wichita and “the story of their almost meeting.” Stills from Conner’s terrific work and more information here; Kristine McKenna‘s loving 1990 LA Times profile, “”Bruce Conner in the Cultural Breach,” offers this vital passage: “Conner’s last burst of intense art activity came in 1978 when he became involved in the San Francisco punk scene as a staff photographer for fanzine Search and Destroy. A corrosive aesthetic of outraged idealism that Conner had anticipated by decades, punk was tailor-made to his sensibility, and he spent most of 1978 at a punk club called the Mabuhay. “I lost a lot of brain cells at the Mabuhay… During that year I had a press card so I got in free, and I’d go four or five nights a week. What are you gonna do listening to hours of incomprehensible rock ‘n’ roll but drink? I became an alcoholic, and it took me a few years to deal with that. Many of the punk pictures look carefully composed, but but drink_95623.jpg I didn’t futz around with the images after I shot them, and if they didn’t work out perfectly I threw them away… A lot of people seem to feel that these photographs have nothing to do with the rest of my work, but if I hadn’t done the collages and assemblage I never could’ve spontaneously composed these photographs as I did. But, people’s reluctance to accept this work as fine art is very much in keeping with art world thinking. Being an artist is like being a medieval craftsman… you’re expected to do one thing only, and many artists function like someone producing a line of cars.


They stick with one style, and while next year’s model will be a bit different, it won’t differ too much from the original prototype. But I couldn’t conceive of restricting myself to one medium because the medium dictates how you see things. A sculptor, for instance, sees the world in terms of three-dimensional forms. This is one of the limitations of consciousness, and my way of getting around it was to develop different media almost as if I were another artist. This confused a lot of people, and they couldn’t see any connection between the various bodies of work I’ve done. For me, however, there’s a clear relationship between all these forms. I used to be concerned that people didn’t understand my work as I did, and I worked hard to land a major museum exhibition in hopes that would clarify things a bit. But I found museum people to be so bound by the requirements of curatorship that they couldn’t deal with my work. Their attitude is: ‘We want to show every last assemblage you did before 1964 and maybe we’ll put in a few drawings, but we’re not interested in the rest of your work.'”

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