Lawrence Weiner at Anthology Film Archives

by Art Fag City on January 24, 2008 Reviews

First QuarterI understand the rejection of objects/interest in words has an important place in history, but something tells me that for most of us, it may be enough to have that knowledge and experience just a few of his works, as opposed to the 80 plus minutes I witnessed last night at Anthology Film Archives. Such were my thoughts yesterday anyway, after having viewed Weiner’s First Quarter last night and falling asleep for the last half hour. I woke up only to have a man in the audience tell me that Weiner himself had said it was perfectly okay to fall asleep in his films, admitting that he too had dozed off for a couple of minutes.

For all the annoyance associated with films that will almost surely ask you to watch someone perform an action until it’s either done, or interrupted, there’s more to this film than watching a particular Weiner line recited by a cast member in a variety of settings. Certainly some small satisfaction can be gained from identifying permutations of the texts he’d written assume action in film — be it painted on the side of a brick wall, recited on a road trip or listened to while making out on a couch — but beneath this, a sexual energy permeates the work, giving it an unexpected life and texture. More overt sexual scenes merely confirm feelings evoked elsewhere; even within the most banal vignettes include far too many slightly lingering shots of the body including hands, lips,and hair, for a gentle eroticism not to be noticed. What’s more the artist doesn’t just throw these scenes together, each carefully constructed, at times masterfully composed. Audience members may not make it through his films in their entirety — in fact, I suspect many of them will inspire the long sighs often accompanying difficult work –but they’ll at least last longer than they expect. I know I did.

First Quarter will be screened at Anthology again Saturday, January 26 at 8:30

Related: Ed Halter, Words on Film – An incredibly well considered and thoughtful review on Weiner’s films.

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