[Frameworks] experimental cinema as a label

From: Andy Ditzler (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jul 19 2010 - 11:19:17 PDT

I'm changing the subject header here, to continue discussing "experimental"
as a label for the kind of work we make and show. As a curator I've thought
about this quite a bit. I wonder if the conclusions below resonate with
anyone else here.

I’ve noticed that generally, artists do not enjoy having their work labeled.
This is understandable, as on several levels it can be stifling to the
spirit of inquiry and curiosity that artists need to work.

Yet in my own experience as a songwriter and producer, I have found that
labels are the first thing required for effective outreach to an audience
(i.e. marketing). As a matter of course in marketing, musicians are expected
to provide labels that tell an audience what experience they will have if
they buy a particular CD.

This showed me a subtle distinction I was missing, and which I apply to my
film curating: labels are there not to describe the work, but to describe
the audience’s experience. It’s the audience who needs the label, not the
artist. And what people always want to know is: if I spend five to ten
dollars (and my evening) on this show, what am I going to experience? This
is also quite understandable.

For this reason, I call what I show “experimental film.” So films as diverse
as “Italianamerican” and “Tearoom,” “Towers Open Fire” and “Lemon,” “Jeanne
Dielman” and Jean Painlevé go under the same rubric. The point of this is
that here in Atlanta, my audience (in which I include myself) is seeing
films quite different than their normal cinematic experience provides,
arranged in a different way, and in a different setting to boot
(galleries/site-specific/homes). And because my audience is a very general
one (outreach being part of my mission/passion), the whole experience is
often experimental for them.

My intention in using this term is not really to distinguish these films
from mainstream cinema (perhaps another problematic term to describe work!)
but to imply that such experiences are an essential part of everyone’s
cinematic diet, so to speak.

Andy Ditzler
Atlanta, GA

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