Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 7:30pm
Alexander Kluge's Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed
Alexander Kluge, 16mm, 1968, 104 mins
Introduced by Gary Indiana

Film has to recover the degree of abstraction inherent in language. Film should include all capacities of language. But language and images should not strive for precision. They will be uncertain and open. I am anti-Wittgenstein. I do not believe in logic, I believe in the power of associations. - Alexander Kluge

Writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge stands as one of the most important intellectuals of post-war Germany. A student of T. W. Adorno and a signatory of the Oberhausen Manifesto, Kluge is a crucial link between the political philosophy of the Frankfurt School and the critique of fascist culture and its legacy enacted by the New German Cinema. In addition to publishing a wide-ranging body of fiction, criticism, and other writings, he has directed over seventy films and television productions that scrutinize Germany’s past and present by boldly reconfiguring the language of dominant cinema. “His literary work as well as his cinema mixes documentary with fiction in order to tell stories that fall outside the conventions of conflict, catharsis, and resolution,” Gary Indiana has observed, “the kinds of erratic, unschematic stories that most of us actually live.”

Kluge’s second feature film—widely considered to be among his greatest—Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed circles around the story of Leni Peikert, a woman determined to create a new, radicalized form of circus-as-art after her father dies in an acrobatics accident. As doomed to failure as many an avant-garde, Peikert’s vision is one in which the audience would be "confronted by the animals" rather than entertained. She plans to replace typical carnival acts with bears who light fires, tigers fighting red mice, and humorless clowns who "mourn their lost honor." Opening with appropriated footage of a Nazi "day of German art" kitsch parade set to a bachelor-pad reprise of Lennon-McCartney's "Yesterday," the film advances Piekert’s fragmented narrative through aphoristic meditations and moments of disjunctive montage. If you’ve ever read Minima Moralia and thought, “Hey, this would make a great movie,” Alexander Kluge might be your man.


Hailed by The Guardian as "one of the most important chroniclers of the modern psyche," Gary Indiana is the author of a darkly satirical trilogy set in Southern California during the late 1990s: Resentment, Depraved Indifference and Three Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story. His 2008 novel Shanghai Gesture was praised by Bookforum as "structured delirium...an aesthete's hallucinatory folktale." He is also the author of two collections of essays, Utopia's Debris and Let It Bleed. His most recent book is Last Seen Entering the Biltmore, a collection of plays, poems, and short stories.

Tickets - $7, available at door.

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