From: Madison Brookshire (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jan 30 2006 - 16:34:24 PST
>So some of the films are very explicitly on the subject
>of being against the war; others were more abstract, etc. Jacobs is
>entitled to his own opinion, which could also be taken as an example
>of the insularity of the avant garde, or its purism.
>I suppose the issue is what was more important: making works of
>genius experimental art or making a statement against the Vietnam
Personally, I believe this: there can be no radical content without radical
form. There's no such thing as a political t-shirt nor is any propaganda
better than any other propaganda. If you talk down to people, if you appeal
to their baser emotions rather than their intellects (or we could rephrase:
if you manipulate people's emotions instead of appealing to their senses,
their feelings) then the meaning of what you are saying will be devoured by
the way in which you say it.
As Mani Kaul used to say to us, his students, "Content betrays itself." (He
was quoting a theorist whose name escapes me). If your film purports to be
anti-war, but is in fact a slick commercial for yourself, this will be
visible. If your film purports to be anti-corporate and anti-consumerist but
is in fact a multi-million dollar investment that advertises that which it
supposedly attacks (a la Fight Club), this will be visible.
Anyway, For Life, Against the War (which, incidentally, I think is a
beautiful title, almost as beautiful as Collective for Living Cinema), for
some at least, represented a way to propose sanity and beauty to a world
hell-bent on insanity and shit. Ken's film, AIRSHAFT, which I believe he
showed in the program, is a marvelous protest film. For me, it is neither
purist nor insular. It is human. If we can educate people on how to live in
the world, on how to be sensitive and alive to the world itself, is this not
the greatest form of protest against a society, as Ken would say, "addicted
to endless war-after-war"?
I believe that abstraction (and AIRSHAFT is not an abstract film. It is
representational.) is not a form of escapism. I believe that any image or
set of images, any experience wrought honestly and out of a spirit of giving
(as opposed to vanity or self-aggrandizement: careerism) is a protest
against not just A war, but the very society that would allows itself to
systematically engage in war. Etc. Etc.
Franz Kline said something to the effect of "However much you mean it,
that's how much it will mean." And I think it's visible in the work. This is
not to say that you can will all kinds of literal meaning onto an abstract
image, but that the form of what you create will affect the way in which
people experience it. To create a radical experience via a radical form, to
me that is avant-garde... no, let's say revolutionary.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.