Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pierre Huyghe | The Third Memory



Pierre Huyghe
The Third Memory
Centre Georges Pompidou, 2000
144 pp., 15 × 21 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

On August 22nd, 1972, John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a Brooklyn branch of the Chase Manhattan bank to pay for his lover's sex reassignment surgery. The heist lasted 14 hours, with seven bank employees held as hostages. Wojtowicz was a former bank teller and had some knowledge of bank operations, but apparently based his plan the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day.

The heist became the subject of the 1975 Sidney Lumet film Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino. Prior to "Son of Sam" laws that prohibited a criminal to profit from his crime, Wojtowicz earned $7,500 selling the film rights of his story, and 1% of the film's net profit, and used this money to fund Elizabeth Eden's eventual surgery.

After the film's release, Wojtowicz wrote the following letter to The New York Times:

This is the first newspaper article I have ever written, but it is necessary so you the people can know the truth. On April 23, 1973, I was sentenced to serve 20 years for armed bank robbery even though I made a deal and pleaded guilty. The powers that be did not keep their part of the deal even though I am a first offender. I'm now serving time at the U.S. Maximum Security Fortress at Lewisburg, Pa.

A movie entitled DOG DAY AFTERNOON starring Al Pacino (of THE GODFATHER) was made by Warner Bros. and based on the events of August 22nd and 23rd of 1972 for which I am now serving time. I am presently in the courts with the assistance of Mr. George Heath, another inmate in here who is a jail-house lawyer, because the Movie People (Artists Entertainment Complex. Inc. and Warner Bros.) have violated my contract with them. I have an agreement in writing for 1% of the net profits and a verbal agreement for 2% of the gross from the movie. It seems now that everyone involved is denying this. “Exploitation” is a dirty word, but I have been exploited as well as my family and friends.  

I have had other problems with the movie, and I even had to launch a massive letter writing campaign after the Associate Warden, Mr. D.D. Grey and the Warden, Mr. F.E. Arnold in here both refused to let my movie in here after Warner Bros. had agreed to send it free of charge for all of us to see. I can report now that the outside pressure from both the Gay and straight newspapers was enough to make the officials hare relent and on Friday might, 10/3/75 and also on Sunday afternoon, 10/5/75, we here finally were able to see the movie. I was allowed to see a special preview of it on Friday afternoon, 10/3/75 all alone with the exception of a guard being there. It was a very moving experience.

The movie. DOG DAY AFTERNOON, contains everything from laughter, tears, love, hate, devotion, religion, to hope, drama, and thrills. The reason I call it a ”?” is because it leaves so much out and so many unanswered questions. What you are about to read are my own personal comments and feelings even though they may result in the movie losing money. They must be made.

The main reason I did what I did on 8/22-23/72 is never explained in the movie, and instead you the viewer are left with many questions. I did what a man has to do in order to save the life of someone I loved a great deal. His name was Ernest Aron (now known as Ms. Liz Debbie Eden) and he was Gay. He wanted to be a woman through the process of a sex-change operation and thus was labeled by doctors as a Gender Identity Problem. He felt he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. This caused him untold pain and problems which accounted for his many suicide attempts. I met him in 1971 at an Italian Bazaar in N.Y.C. after two years of separation from my female wife, Carmen, and two children.  

Ernest and I were married in Greenwich Village in N.Y.C. on 12/4/71 in a Roman Catholic ceremony. We had our ups and downs as most couples do, and I tried my best to get him the money he needed for his sex change operation he so badly needed. I was unable to obtain the funds for his birthday on 8/19/72 and so, on Sunday, 8/29, he attempted suicide while I was at of the house. He died a clinical death in the hospital but was revived. While I went to get his clothes, he was declared mentally sick and sent to the Psychiatric Ward of Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. I went to see hin and I tried to obtain his release on 8/21, but was told he would not be released and would stay there for a long time until he was cured.

Soon 8/22/75, along with two others, I began what I felt was necessary to save the life of someone I truly and deeply loved. No monetary value can be placed on a human life, and as it says in the Bible - “No greater love both a man then to lie down his life for another.”

I regret the things that happened, but most of all that my friend, Sal Naturale, who was only 18 years old was murdered by the F.B.I.. It was not necessary for then to murder him, because he had been immobilized and unable to do anything, but yet the F.B.I. murdered him before my eyes. I was also immobilized and unable to do anything. The movie never shows this as it truly happened, as it does with so many other scenes in it. I estimate the movie to be only 30% true, even though it states - “This movie is based on a true incident that occurred in Brooklyn, N.Y. on 8/22/72.” All through the movie they take facts that were true but then present them differently. For example: It is true that the third person involved with us did panic and fled the bank at the beginning, but not as they have him doing it in one of the comical scenes, which are so rampant throughout the movie.

They have a scene with my mother and I outside   of the bank talking to each other, but in real life we never did talk, and I never went out to see her even though she was there. A third scene shows me speaking to my female wife, Carmen, on the telephone. (The actress who portrays her in the movie is an ugly and greasy looking women with a big mouth, when in real life my wife is beautiful and very loving wife.) I did try to call her, but the F.B.I. cut the phone lines and air conditioning before I could get to speak to her on the line. I did not like the horrible way they tried to make her the blame or the scapegoat for everything that happened, especially because of the Gay aspects involved.

Now to one of the most despicable parts of the film. In it they hint very dramatically that I made some kind of a deal to betray my partner, Sal. It hurt me that the same F.B.I. who cold-bloodedly killed an 18-year-old boy can be depicted as having me help then. This is not true and there is no human being low enough in this world who would let the F.B.I. kill his partner in order for him to survive. It can be labeled as just Hollywood trying to sell a movie or just to increase the drama, but I call it sick.

Many of the men in here thought the movie was a good comedy, but most were outraged at how they misrepresented the truth and invented things that were so despicable. I even had some problems as a result of it, especially the part they invented that hinted of a deal with the F.B.I..

Now for a more pleasant side; the directing by Mr. Sidney Lumet was fantastic. The cast did an outstanding and monumental job as a whole. There are only two exceptions to this. First, the actress playing my wife, Carmen, made her look horrible and inferred that I left her and winded up in the arms of a Gay man because of her. This is completely untrue, and I feel sorry for the actress for having to play such a horrible role. Second, the actress playing my mother overdid her role, especially the overprotective Mother type baloney in it. Some of what they both said, as well as the actor portraying my lover, Ernest (called Leon in the movie) were true statements of facts, but did not really happen in the real life event as such,

Al Pacino’s performance has to be called “out of sight” and the best he’s ever done. I feel he deserves the Academy Award for Best Male Actor for his unbelievable performance. For almost two hours he was just fantastic. He made me laugh, cry, sweat, and feel uncomfortable at times all in one movie. His characterization was flawless.

I was very touched and cried in the most moving scene in the entire movie. the one in which he dictates my last will and testament. During this memorable scene over 1,300 men in here were completely silent, and you could hear a pin drop. For an hour and a half previously everyone was laughing, but then it all stopped, and the truth and stark realism was finally presented in one of the most moving scenes I've ever seen in a motion picture.

Chris Sarandon who portrays my male lover in the movie also deserves the Academy Award for Best Male Supporting Actor. It was his film debut and he was too much for words. He had to portray the widest range of emotions but do it in the right way. I feel he did it perfectly. If in real life Ernie had said those things and done those actions, he would have done them exactly as Chris did them. In the telephone scene between Pacino and himself his performance was unfathomable and a tribute to his mastery of an unbelievably difficult role. I was moved to tears by it because the realism was there and so professionally done.

My feelings over all on the movie were that it was a good comedy, but I did not think it was funny because it was about me and my loved ones. I felt the movie was in essence a piece of garbage. It did not show the whole truth, and the little it did show was constantly twisted and distorted. So it left you, the viewer with so many unanswered questions. I fault the screen writer, Mr. Frank Pierson, for not going into a more explanatory and deeper characterization of the people involved. But Hollywood wants to make money, and if sacrificing the truth or exploiting the lives of real people is the way to make money, then that’s what they do.

I feel deeply hurt by the movie, and I hope that you the reader will remember the above if you have seen the movie or are about to see it. I have taken the movie people to court for the exploitation and for their breach of contract. But the battle will be a long and hard one, as will the one against the book people (Delacorte Press of N.Y. and Dell Publishing Co., Inc. and Patrick Mann, author of the hard cover and also the paperback entitled Dog Day Afternoon).

It is not easy for me or my loved ones because of my imprisonment, but I am determined to do what is right as God gives me the light to see that right. Ever since I arrived here at the U.S. Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pa., I have been treated as a “Second Class Inmate” and denied the same rights that other inmates in here are enjoying. This is because of the homosexual motive and implications of my crime. I have been arbitrarily discriminated against and harassed by the officials here. I have complained repeatedly and also filed administrative remedies to the Warden, Regional Director, and Assistant Director, but I still fail to obtain relief. I am now in the courts over this.

Further, at the present time I cannot even get legal papers notarized by the officials here to send the courts because my jail-house lawyer, Mr. George Heath’s name is on then. Their refusal to notarize these legal papers is another violation of my rights in here. At one time they even refused to let me do this article for the New York Times, but after pressure from the Washington Post, they relented, and so now I am doing this article.

There is a prayer that the Alcoholics Anonymous have in here that I try to live by, and it goes like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”


Pierre Huyghe, interested in how fictional media re-imagines and reinvents our lives, invited Wojtowicz to tell his own version of the events depicted in Dog Day Afternoon. Huyghe views the resulting video installation not as a correction, but a new fiction created by a combination of news footage, the Lumet film and Wojtowicz's re-interpretation. The participant's take then becomes the "Third Memory" of the title.

In the exhibition catalogue of the same name, Huyghe's practice is contextualized within the larger field of video and media arts by curator Christine Van Assche, and Jean-Charles Massera uses Huyghe's appropriation of Dog Day Afternoon as the starting point for a text investigating our complex relationship with mass media events.

The book is available from the co-publisher, here, for $25.00 US. 


The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas announced yesterday that Huyghe was awarded the $100,000 Nasher Prize.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lorna Bauer Ray~Ray Edition Launch Tonight





RAY~RAY, the artists' jewelry project by Ella Dawn McGeough and Sarah Nasby, launches it's second edition (after Kelly Jazvac earlier this year) tonight at G Gallery.

Ibiza, by Montreal-based artist Lorna Bauer, is a series of sculptures as necklaces. Handcrafted through the process of flameworking, they were developed as a response to the writings of Walter Benjamin and William S. Burroughs (the former's letters to his lover, the latter's descriptions of "color walks"). In an earlier series of sculptures, also titled Ibiza, Bauer produced glass forms loosely derived from the Dream Machine invention, by Burroughs’ colleague Brion Gysin.

For her Ray~Ray jewelry edition, Lorna has produced micro-versions of the original with slight deviations. Here, coloured molten glass is manipulated to possibly resemble creatures seen through the water that surrounds the island of Ibiza. The former pieces sometimes 12 to 15 feet in height were suspended from floor to ceiling, objects held in tension with the space around it. Here, for Ray~Ray, the body replaces that space and the wearer becomes the vertical frame from which the jewelry is hung.

To accompany each edition, Ray~Ray commissions a new text. Here writer Ania Wroblewski to responds to Ibiza. Her text, La Plage, will be included with each edition.

Ibiza is available in a limited edition of 15, each unique.

The launch takes place at the former location of G Gallery (134 Ossington Street - entrance on Foxley Pl, rear of building, from 7 to 9pm tonight, Tuesday September 27th.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Walter Benjamin: Recent Writings


Walter Benjamin: Recent Writings
Vancouver, Canada/Los Angeles, USA: New Documents, 2013
216 pp., 10.7 × 17.6 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown


"Seminal work. Full stop"
- Dejan Krsic, Amazon customer review

"There is obviously some error in the description of this book. Benjamin would have had to have been exhumed from his grave."
- Kyle, Amazon customer review

"What exactly do we make of a book of “recent writings” by a long-dead writer?"

- Rachel Wetzler, Los Angeles Review of Books

"My editor got the joke before I did; he said: “Explain this chronology? I smell a rat.” And then I started poring over the essays again, trying to discover what was original Benjamin, reprinted Benjamin, copied Benjamin, imitated Benjamin. Where did this new “Benjamin” agree with the Benjamin I know and love and where do they differ? So much of the book reads like straight solid Benjamin! I can’t figure out if the whole book is a copy or if half of it is reprinted interviews that actually took place—and I’m not supposed to. Foucault wrote a famous essay on Nietzsche that is composed almost entirely of unsourced, rephrased quotations from Nietzsche himself; Benjamin himself first suggested that the ideal academic essay would be composed of nothing but quotations, without any commentary from the author whatsoever. I’m left, like an ancient skeptic, at an aporia: no way through. The best response is to laugh at myself. Now there’s a good old-fashioned anti-dogmatic moral lesson."
- Clancy Martin, The Brooklyn Rail

"Although Recent Writings isn’t what most readers might consider “accessible,” it’s worth remembering that its author’s namesake also had a penchant for circuitousness. Both The Arcades Project and Berlin Childhood Around 1900 eulogizethe serendipitous discoveries that happen when lost, straying, or flaneuring. As a schoolchild, Benjamin the first often doodled labyrinths onto his textbooks. One of his formative memories was of losing his way among the twisting streets of Berlin during a storm. Another was becoming aware of a precocious erection –what he called the “first stirring of his sexual urge”—during an afternoon walk in which he couldn’t find the place he was looking for and missed his appointment. Nobody would describe Recent Writings as boner-inducing, but it does thrust us into unfamiliarity."

- Adam Leith Gollner, Hazlitt

Available from the publisher, here, for $30.00 US.



Sunday, September 25, 2016

Richard Artschwager | Bookends








Richard Artschwager
Bookends
New York City, USA: Brooke Alexander Editions, 1990
17.2 x 16.5 x 10.2 cm
Edition of 50 signed, dated and numbered copies

Formica on wood. Each bookend has a disk in its base with artist's initials, edition size, and year.


"Brooke Alexander: The Bookends came from a specific request from Printed Matter; something that would be appropriate for a bookstore.

Richard Artschwager: They knew that I had made "books" before, so, bookends or endbooks. They have a function.

Brooke Alexander: When you put them on their side - the idea that you can stack them up - turns them into something else. They lose their function and exist only as sculpture.

Richard Artschwager: You want sculpture, you got sculpture.

Brooke Alexander: Or if you want something functional, you've got bookends.

Richard Artschwager: They can live in either domain; in either case it's a book or in neither case it's a book. It's this is book both times."




Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky | All Night Convenience















One of my favourite Nuit Blanche projects ever takes place tonight in Edmonton as part of their Petit Nuit programming (their Nuit Blanche event is bi-annual, with a smaller event in the off years). Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky's All Night Convenience first appeared as part of Bodies and Buildings by Christina Ritchie for Toronto's NB event in 2012. Other iterations have taken place in Richmond, Virginia and Dallas, Texas. 

The piece functions as a large lantern (the store), filled with smaller lanterns (the products). Viewers can appreciate the installation as the sculpture that it is, without standing in line, or can opt for a more invested, immersive experience. Line up times in Toronto ranged from 20 to 70 minutes at peak times, because viewers were invited in a few at a time and given the time to carefully select the store item that they would like to have turned into a necklace or lantern on a stick. 

They then travelled through the rest of the exhibit, dispersing the light of the larger lantern and advertising the project back upon itself. 



Friday, September 23, 2016

Lifetime Piling Up




A video program that I curated for Nuit Blanche Edmonton's Petit Nuit opens tonight at 7pm. Details here.


LIFETIME PILING UP

The film projector provides an apt metaphor for life lived: as the take-up reel accumulates, the feed reel diminishes. A finite lifespan is illustrated by a growing past and shrinking future. Lifetime Piling Up will project a programme of eight videoworks which chronicle the passage of time, games, rituals, things going around in circles, lifelines and timelines.

In Francis Alÿs’s Reel - Unreel, the camera follows a children’s game in Kabul, Afghanistan. Two young boys push a reel of film like a hoop, up and down hills, through town. One unspools the film and the other tries to re-gather it, as an example of “doing/undoing”. In her performative video Iron-Woman, Alexandra Bischoff irons and then wears her entire wardrobe. Micah Lexier divides the screen proportionally between life lived and life to come. Lisa Steele catalogues the scars on her body, recounting the story of their origin. Other artists include Dean Baldwin (Montreal), Corinna Schnitt (Brunswick, Germany), Jon Sasaki (Toronto), and Miruna Dragan/Jason de Haan (Calgary).





Jon Sasaki
Ru be Goldb erg Mach ine, 2014, 00:45
A not-quite fully functional Rube Goldberg machine made from film and video equipment, is assisted by the hand of the artist.






Alexandra Bischoff
Iron-Woman, 2014, 11:03
The artist irons and wears her entire wardrobe.





Dean Baldwin
Intersection XOXOX, 2007, 1:00
Using yellow and white reflective road paint, a game of Tic Tac Toe is played out busy traffic, in the nine square grid formed by the intersecting streetcar tracks. With Kristan Horton.





Corinna Schnitt
Once Upon a Time, 2006, 25:07’
A slowly turning camera in the centre of a living room captures a succession of animals introduced into the environment.





Micah Lexier
Self-Portrait as a Wall, 2016, 00:30
Stop motion documentation of a wall text divides the screen proportionally into life lived and life yet to come.



Lisa Steele
Birthday Suit [with scars and defects], 1974, 13:23
On her 27th birthday the artist chronicles her passage through time, recounting incidents that left their mark.




Francis Alÿs
Reel/Unreel, 2011, 19:32
A variation on the classic children’s game of rolling a hoop, two boys push a reel of film through the war-torn streets of Kabul. Together they become a film projector of sorts, with one unreeling the film and the other rewinding it back onto the spool.





Jason de Haan/Miruna Dragan
The Wood and Wave Each Other Know, 2011, 38:00
A 360 degree view from a wildlife lookout tower in Northern Alberta (the tallest in the province), turned into the body of cello, on which Daniel Bosch performs to an audience of trees.

Annie Pootoogook, RIP






http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/annie-pootoogook-dies-ottawa-1.3776525