owen land

"This touring exhibition celebrates the work of Owen Land (formerly known as George Landow), one of the most original and celebrated American filmmakers of the 60s and 70s. The films made during this period fuse an intellectual sense of reason with the irreverent wit that distances them from the supposedly ‘boring’ world of avant-garde cinema. Land’s early materialist works anticipated Structural Film—the definition of which provoked his rejection of film theory and convention—and include explorations into the physical qualities of the celluloid strip. His attention soon turned to the spectator in a series of works that question the illusionary nature of cinema through the use of word play and optical ambiguity. In several of these films Land constructs ‘facades’ of reality, often directly addressing the viewer using the language of television, advertising or educational films, and by featuring characters that are often the antithesis of those we might expect to see, such as podgy middle aged men and religious fanatics. Experimental film itself is also parodied, as Land mimics his contemporaries and mocks the solemn approach of theorists and scholars. Later works draw on the filmmaker’s experiences with Christianity but are far from evangelistic. Throughout, Land’s films contain numerous cross-references to the art and culture of our time, giving them a relevance and vitality beyond the hermetic avant-garde."
notes adapted from text by Mark Webber from Lux Films

i just saw owen land´s latest project dialogues in berlin at "kunstwerke" and you could have literally wiped me off the floor after haveing seen it. it´s a brilliant collection of little sketches and parodies on video art, art and artists in general, and everyday stereotypical and awkward behaviour of people from big, occidental cities.
this is a true work of a genius.
he put a quote from steve reich to run before the episodes, "all music is ethnomusic" (so true), contextualizing these cuckoo and strange as strange little sketches in the realm of the autoethnographical, and indeed the artists and art work being parodied are shown from their most vain and apish sides.
in the same exhibition you could also see works by godard and farocki and baldessari, and i became so sick of the pretentiousness of godard´s les histoires du cinĂ©ma after having seen these light and whitty and in the end so much more smart and self-reflexive videos of owen land who isn´t taking himself for GODard and instead mocking his own narcissistic, phantasmatic desires as an artist.
his form of critique is the sublimest form of critique at all: reflecting the ego pronouncing the criticism. and not giving so much of a fuck about it all.
if you have the chance: go see this film!

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