Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 7:30pm
Richard Kern's The Bitches + Abram Room's Bed and Sofa

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

The Bitches
Richard Kern, Super-8 on Blu-ray, 1992, 9 mins

Bed and Sofa
Abram Room, 16mm, 1926, 80 mins

Abram Room, a young Soviet director who had previously worked under Vsevolod Meyerhold, published a brief manifesto in 1925 arguing against the straightforward importation of theatrical aesthetics into the new art of cinema. “Cinema is pre-eminently realism, life, the everyday, objectivity, properly motivated behavior, rational gesture,” Room wrote. “If we had to characterize theater and cinema in simple terms we should have to say: theater is ‘seeming’ whereas cinema is ‘being.’” Room soon produced a cluster of films that sought to bring a deeper psychological veracity to cinema. The most remarkable of these is Bed and Sofa, the tale of a menage à trois between a woman and two men, co-written with Viktor Shklovsky.

“This almost legendary ‘lost’ masterpiece of the Soviet cinema, hampered by its subject matter, has suffered from even more restricted circulation than other Russian films,” Amos Vogel observed in Film as a Subversive Art. "A masterpiece of psychological realism, its sexual triangle (caused by the post-revolutionary housing shortage) involved husband and lover changing places on bed and sofa, until the pregnant woman, tired of male chauvinism, decides to leave them both. The film is unique in its emphasis on the individual rather than class and its portrayal of unconventional sexual mores in early Soviet Russia; it reflects, in its anti-puritanical humanism, the atmosphere of the early revolutionary days far more accurately than some of the large-scale propagandist works of the period.”

Bed and Sofa will be shown with Richard Kern’s The Bitches, which likewise concerns an erotic triangulation, this time between two women and a man. Whereas Room’s Bed and Sofa marks a time when cinema was first ascendant as the primary visual medium through which modern sexuality would be conceived, Kern’s Super-8 work can be seen as one of the endpoints of film’s hold on the erotic imagination, just prior to its displacement onto the internet. The Bitches, shot non-sync, channels the somatic vocabulary of silent cinema, almost atavistically. But unlike Bed and Sofa, which is centrally concerned with internalized psychology, The Bitches presents sex as a fantasy of externalities, a multi-act play that unfolds through the choreographed revelation of costumes and props.

Tickets - $7, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.