Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 7:30pm
Three Films by Mark LaPore
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Named as one of the key artists of his generation in Tom Gunning’s influential 1989 essay “Towards a Minor Cinema," Mark Lapore created works that reconfigured the relationship between experimental film and ethnography. Like his contemporaries Ernie Gehr and Peter Hutton, LaPore mastered a deeply personal aesthetic inspired by the earliest actualities, embracing fixed frames, presentational composition, and shots that frequently consist of a single camera roll. In LaPore’s work, this return to cinema’s origins renews our fascination with recorded images as such, inviting us to face their peculiar ontologies, and thereby unstick the typical power dynamics of the cross-cultural gaze. “A peripatetic artist whose films trace his wanderings, LaPore was a traveler who became immersed in the everyday, as opposed to a sight-seeking tourist,” Gunning later wrote, in the wake of LaPore’s untimely death in late 2005. “He resembles a global flaneur taking his time, staring and contemplating rather than glancing—reflective, rather than acquisitive. LaPore fixed himself in front of the world be filmed and dwelt upon what he saw, and in doing so created a unique sense of time and place.”
“LaPore's films achieve a vision that straddles and brings together the modes of experimental film, ethnographic documentary, diarist travel films, lyrical autobiography, and political polemic,” Gunning concludes. “They should be seen by anyone who cares about the cinema and who cares about the way this image machine can display the world we have made and, especially, the aspects we prefer to ignore or forget. Their courage matches their beauty and their growing despair.”
Mark LaPore, 1989, 16mm, 16 mins
“Memory, as well as the residue of information in text and film from Sudan, led me to make The Sleepers in order to resolve the impression that the third world is present in the first world as an idea and a condition. The Sleepers is a film about how notions of culture are often defined by information received indirectly—information that frequently violates the particulars of people and place and makes questionable one’s ability to portray specific individuals as representatives of culture. The Sleepers concludes with a description of an African girl cleaning up after a meal being read over the image of a red storefront in New York’s Chinatown. Time and space contradict, then collapse to suggest a new third world city; a city of the imagination, where rural Sudan, China and Manhattan exist simultaneously.” - ML
The Five Bad Elements
Mark LaPore, 1997, 16mm, 32 mins
"The title of the film is mischievously cribbed from a gang of troublemakers that appears in Chinese filmmaker Xie Jin's film Hibiscus Town but also hints at the biblical concept of The Seven Deadly Sins, of universal ingredients - the four elements - earth, water, air and fire. Bad elements can refer euphemistically to a criminal milieu, ‘the wrong crowd,’ as well as suggesting the antiquated medical notion of the circulating ‘humors’ that govern disposition and health. Going to the source of trouble was part of the filmmaker’s intent. LaPore: ‘I was more interested in who put those things into Pandora's box than I was in who let them out.’ ... Sound and image are subtly and rigorously counterpointed so as to fall into unnatural relations, blistering as they graze against each other and leaving a stinging afterglow of synesthesia and emotional voltage. By building the film on normally inadmissible evidence, telegraphed inferences, metaphoric leaps and omissions, damaged testimonies and scattered remains the film fabricates an impeccable and elegant architecture from a materially incomplete and unsound body. In the fragmented corpus of human beings and continents which is The Five Bad Elements, LaPore has created a film which itself acts as an absorbent object, a kind of metastatic sin eater that aims at expiation through its own contamination, redistributing poisons into a netherworld that still clearly resides at the core of its own physical and visible existence.” - Mark McElhatten
The Glass System
Mark LaPore, 2000, 16mm, 20 mins
“The Glass System, made from images shot in New York and Calcutta, looks at life as it is played out in the streets. Every corner turned reveals activities both simple and unfamiliar: a knife sharpener on a bicycle; a tiny tightrope walker; a man selling watches in front of a department store on Fifth Avenue; a hauntingly slow portrait of the darting eyes of schoolgirls on their way home; the uncompleted activities of a young contortionist. The sound in the film (which is from a Bengali primer written by British missionaries) is a meditation on how the English language teaches ideas about culture which are often incongruous. The disjunction between what you hear and what you see evokes reflections about the impact of globalization and the hegemony of Western-style capitalism.” - ML
Tickets - $7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.