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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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“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson 

“The difference between poetry and prose, and why if you’re not acculturated to poetry, you might resist it: that page is frightening. Why is it not filled? The two categories of people who don’t feel that way are children and prisoners. So many prison poets; they see that gap and experience it differently. I’m for the gap!”
~ Poet Eileen Myles