Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dancing Sardines

Once upon a time time . . . Belfast, Maine was recognized as one of the One Hundred Culturally Cool Towns in the United States. It’s had its downs since then, but thanks to Waterfall Arts, Culturally Cool is back in Belfast. Waterfall’s mission is to make connections between art and nature, which it does with a mix of symposia, lectures, exhibitions and classes. Waterfall also has Dan Beckman, about whom I wrote here in Fluxus Redux on March 25. In his unassuming way, Dan had invited me to “a couple of events we’re putting on.” I didn’t make the first one (and boy, I am sorry now), because Friday night, the second event was excellent. Nature came right in the door in the person of Shana Hanson, a singer and storyteller whose a capella song about planting seeds (which is what she does for a living) was down to earth simple and beguiling. While singing, she kept time with her feet, as if putting the seeds into the earth right then and there.

The evening continued with Max Ascrizzi’s video projected onto a can of live sardines. Well, not really, but since Belfast’s sardine factory shut down only a few years ago, the mental connection is there. What did happen? A dark room, a black plastic backdrop, and six or seven people dressed all in white were the screen onto which Max projected a black and white video abstraction, and since those people in white were moving around in a very confined boxlike arrangement – voila, silvery sardines dancing in their container. Perhaps not what Max had intended, but a stunning visual nonetheless.

And wait, there’s more! Bill Daniel’s film , “a mostly-factual cinematic account of the epic search and unlikely discovery of hoboemia’s most legendary boxcar artist Who is Bozo Texino?” had its East Coast premier at Deitch Projects in New York, and is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. Extended and detailed, in the way of Fred Wiseman documentaries. Grand, in the sense that the physical canvas of these United States is grand. The juxtapositions of scale, the close-ups of boxcars and couplings, tiny trains moving through a vast landscape, excellent music and dialogue, kept me riveted the whole time. Makes you wonder how Daniel got some of the footage without getting himself killed. If it comes your way, get on board, or best choice, buy a copy. There’s more here too – don’t miss it.

A note about feed for this blog: the site feed to the left is dysfunctional, and until I get it fixed, you can scroll down to the bottom of the blog for an atom feed.

No comments: