Bruce Conner

From: Mark McElhatten (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jul 08 2008 - 14:54:31 PDT

For many years one felt that such an event was possible, a preparation
was made in the mind and after all both the inevitable and unthinkable
happen.Yet it saddens and stings. Bruce Conner... gone. Taking what was
at hand he reached into the human subconscious into the heartland into
the dreamland into the dark and made a meticulous visionary
irreveverent metaphysical art. Erotic, mysterious, astute. He is the
first filmmaker I would think about and would show when wanting to
demonstrate how editing can make, should make, meaning, poetic,
consequential meaning. Conner was a pioneer who was deeply influential
but inimitable. The world is enriched by his art, diminished by his

I was visiting with the artist -filmmaker Paolo Gioli in Ledinara,
Italy this past weekend. Gioli left the U.S. after a brief stay in 1969
a visit that led to his conversion to experimental filmmaking. He
remarked how unfortunate it was that so many of the great filmmakers of
that period had died. He asked about Bruce Conner. "Alive" I said.
That was Saturday. But then Monday arrived...

2000 BC The Bruce Conner Story Part II remains a model exhibition of
how to exhibit an artist who worked in such a wide variety of mediums
with a singular sensibility. I was grateful to see this exhibition in
both Los Angeles and San Francisco where Conner closely supervised the
installation. Creating small theaters for several of the films 5 or so
if I remember correctly I sat and watched Breakaway and 5:10 to
Dreamland projected on 16mm film for hours on end.
Future exhibitions that include film should emulate this practice.
On the other side of a monitor showing a video version of Looking for
Mushrooms in its own room was a simple installation that seemed to
mystify many museum goers. An editing table with a 16mm print of
Looking for Mushroom on a set of rewinds. A simple and radical act.
Anyone could sit down and view the film by hand, by eye. An elegant,
generous idea of such practical common sense that it was as startling
as it was unprecedented for a museum exhibition.

I never spoke with Bruce. I saw him several times at No Nothing
screenings where he showed "Luke" unannounced and uncredited and with
different soundtracks. The first time was with Tom Waits singing "Heigh
Ho (The Dwarves Marching Song)" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
sung by Tom Waits. And I saw Bruce one time at the Museum of Modern Art
where he took the stage for his q and a producing a small pocket
harmonica from his shirt pocket. He played for less than a minute and
then he stole away.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.