They say that if an artist lives long enough, his early works will be viewed as historical. Well, that’s what has happened to me, and as much as I concentrate on looking forward to my NEXT creation, I’m happy to be around to witness that the old ones are being appreciated, and have withstood the scrutiny of time!
This Friday (8/21/09) I will be honored by a retrospective presentation of four of my early 16mm films, all made in the late 1970’s. This isn’t the first time my old work has been included in historical presentations, but it is the forst time an enture evening has been devoted to my efforts.
My films have been quietly appearing in shows of abstract films of the 1970’s. These presentations have been held in London, Chicago and New York, and maybe other places I do not yet know about. The audiences of art lovers and artists are passionate about this small niche of the art world.
When the films were new, I presented them in many solo shows in the USA and Europe. Most notably I had two solo presentatons at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and one-week gig at the Centre Beaubourg in Paris, when the place was shiny and new.
Since then, a few museums and archives have been custodians of the films. The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh had the largest collection, and I believe they were recently transferred to the Andy Warhol Museum.
If you are in Chicago, here’s details of the show and more information about the films: http://www.whitelightcinema.com/BruceWood.html
And a REVEIW:
Silver Traces: Films by Bruce Wood (Experimental)
White Light Cinema at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee) – Friday, 8pm
Is there anything more exciting than seeing excellent films by a gifted new artist or a regrettably forgotten talent? White Light Cinema does the latter tonight, revisiting the work of former Chicagoan Bruce Wood. After getting his BFA at Mass Arts, Wood came to Chicago specifically to study under Stan Brakhage at the Art Institute. While the Brakhage’s influence can certainly be felt (as well as influences from painters like Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell, and the graphic cinema of Hans Richter and Robert Breer), Wood created something unique and quite powerful. The two earlier works are the longest, each about half an hour, and establish a world of black and white abstraction, of swirling, pulsing shapes, of a raging vacillation between stillness and explosions of form. FROZEN FLIGHT (1977) is certainly a tour-de-force, but seems to be the weakest of the program. THE BRIDGE OF HEAVEN (1977) features elements both starkly structural (frames in frames, grids, x’s, A-frames) and sensually dancing (swirling clouds of grain, creeping white suggestive blobs). The two later films are shorter and seem to be more focused and direct. Brakhage’s influence can be felt most keenly in BETWEEN GLANCES (1978), which (only half-jokingly) seems like an expression of ”closed-eye vision“ from inside of one of Warhol’s Silver Clouds. The probable masterpiece of the night is THE SMELL OF DEATH (1977, printed and ”released“ 2004). The film alternates between three modes. First, the slowly fading image of an ”X“–suggestive of a failing system (medical equipment? the body?). Then skeletal fingers caressing the surface of the film (from the viewpoint of the dying’s last sense of this world? or of the dying’s reaching out onto the next?). Finally, stuttering torn pulses of light–something like flesh being destroyed. It’s a great film–and perfectly encapsulates Wood’s talent for giving a fully formed world born of simply Black and White. (1977-1978, 95 min total, 16mm) JM
More info at www.whitelightcinema.com or www.nightingaletheatre.org.
Note: This event was organized by C-F editor Patrick Friel.