Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stuff Seen - Enthusiasm by Neil Cummings & Marysia Lewandowska



OK, let me get this straight if I can. I go to an eastern European country, I visit some junk shops and estate sales there, and buy some old films. I bring them back to the west. I compile them into something that looks vaguely academic, and when asked spew multi-syllabic words that mean nothing about the films I bought. I then claim ownership and all creative rights over the films.

Sounds like colonialism to me.

In a nutshell, this condenses into one exhibit absolutely everything that is bad, wrong and horrible about the contemporary art world. After seeing a show like this, I find it difficult to feel sad that the Saidye Bronfman Centre is not going to be showing anymore visual art. Thankfully, not all the shows that have been there have been this bad. And if ain't even like this is train wreck bad. This is I-don't-want-to-be-the-one-responsible-for-telling-the-emperor-that-he-his-stark-naked,-so-I'm-just-going-to-pass-the-buck-on-this-one-and-wait-until-it-goes-away bad.

Basically, three spaces made dark by the use of theatre black, showing endless loops of 16 mm film from Poland in the 60's. How Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska can call themselves the artists is beyond my comprehension. Appropriation art it is not. Theft is more like it. The Montreal Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil des Arts & Lettres du Quebec all gave money to put on this exhibit. I will personally eat every single word I write here, along with personally apologizing to Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska along with everyone involved in exhibiting art at the Saidye Bronfman Centre if they can show that any money, even one thin dime, made it to any of the film makers involved. People like M. Korus, J. Ridan, and A Stefarski. Or on the flip side, if Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska did not receive any money for this exhibit then I'll take it all back as well.

In the meantime if they think that by putting their names above those of the people who made the films makes them the artists, I think that they are dumb as dirt.

Then to continue with this horror show of an exhibit. As the films were made as films, I figure that for the most part they all have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So who gave Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska super user abilities to decide that any and all of these films would be better by forcing the viewer to start in the middle, watch the end, and then the beginning? If I recommend a book to you, you are not likely to enjoy it more if you start on page 125, right? Or if you're listening to a symphony, it ain't going to make much sense if you listen to the third movement first, and then continue through, right? So what's up with presenting these films in such a way so as to further distance the viewer? Especially since the filmmakers did not want it that way.

And finally, if you like this sort of thing. Can I recommend that you check out the Internet Archives. Not only do they have way more stuff than you could ever imagine, but they have this thing called the Prelinger Archives which does what Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska try to do, but way better.

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