Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 7:30pm
Films by Derek Boshier
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Curated by Alex Kitnick
Link, Derek Boshier, 16mm, 12 mins
Circle, Derek Boshier, digital projection, 5 mins
Reel, Derek Boshier, digital projection, 7 mins
Change, Derek Boshier, digital projection, 9.5 mins
Derek Boshier began his career as one of London’s key Pop artists. In 1962, fresh out of art school, he appeared in Ken Russell’s BBC documentary Pop Goes the Easel alongside Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, and Peter Philips, which codified the foursome as the cutting edge of Pop Art’s cool, playful sensibility. “I’m very interested in the whole set-up of the American influence in this country,” Boshier states in Russell’s film, fiddling with a flag-waving robot. “I’m interested in the sort of infiltration of the American way of life, and I think it’s through advertising and advertising techniques that this infiltration has come true.” Hip to developments in consumer culture, Boshier was also an avid reader of social theorists such as Marshall McLuhan, Vance Packard, and David Reisman, which accounts, in part, for the criticality of his views. In his paintings and drawings of the time Boshier combined these two tendencies—the adulatory and the analytical—in order to articulate the new forces at work in postwar society. Favorite motifs included astronauts, puzzle pieces, and the Pepsi symbol. He also focused on toothpaste and the red muscular K of Kellogg’s cereal.
Though Boshier worked primarily in painting and sculpture during the 1960s, in the early 70s he branched out into other media and completed a number of photo-based projects. 16 Situations, a study in scale featuring a Minimalist-type cube in a wide variety of social situations ranging from a collector’s home to a fingertip, is the most important example, foreshadowing Boshier’s subsequent play with representation. Soon this interest in seriality and photography pushed Boshier over into the space of cinema—a relatively new terrain for British artists at the time. With initial funding from the Arts Council, Boshier began to make a number of short films, including Link (1970), Circle (1972), Reel (1973), and Change (1973), which pair Pop imagery with an acute understanding of the conventions and limits of the filmic apparatus—an interest shared by other filmmakers in London at this time such as Peter Gidal and Malcolm Le Grice.
Echoing Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique (1924) with its frequent presentation of geometric forms, Link makes connections between a panoply of images—many of them architectural in nature—based on the criterion of shape. A picture of the pyramids at Giza follows that of a pyramid of motorcyclists. Nothing genetic binds them together except their outer limit, an exteriority of the crudest kind. Circle breaks away Link’s preoccupation with the static image to begin an investigation of the properties of the camera: the film consists of a long circular rotation in which a camera moves from street to building to sky in a series of loops. Reel, Boshier’s third film, rebels against Circle’s closed structure by incorporating a wide realm of found footage while continuing to mind the gap between the real and representation. Boshier’s real breakthrough, however, might have come in his final film, Change. If Link makes its case by way of traditional montage, Change finds commonality between things through a process that foreshadows the contemporary technique of morphing, in which one image gradually transforms into the next through a digital process of layering. Where the images in Link are distinct and discrete, in Change images fade and give way to one another through a kind of animation: Arabic script, for example, slowly coagulates into a Barnett Newman zip. - AK
Followed by a conversation between Boshier and Kitnick.
Tickets - $7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.