Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 7:30pm
An Evening with Laida Lertxundi
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Philosophy in the Bedroom, Super 8mm on video, Peggy Ahwesh, 1993, 17 mins
Footnotes to a House of Love, 16mm, Laida Lertxundi, 2007, 13 mins
Sound over Water, 16mm, Mary Helena Clark, 2009, 5 mins
Utskor: Either/Or, 16mm on HD video, Laida Lertxundi, 2013, 8 mins
Agatha, HD video, Beatrice Gibson, 2012, 14 mins
The Room Called Heaven, 16mm, Laida Lertxundi, 2012, 11 mins
Combining the cryptic force of Maya Deren, the wry reflexivity of Morgan Fisher, and the pop invocations of Kenneth Anger, Laida Lertxundi’s films are exactingly arranged experiments with the syntax of cinematic language as well as lovesick daydreams. Sequences are repeated and reframed, calling back to one another; compositional devices return from piece to piece—panning, superimposition, off-kilter perspective—but to decidedly different ends. Recorded music is often played live within the world of the film, fuzzed out, swallowed up by its surroundings, taking on the character not of a soundtrack, but a field recording. Her movies are thick with uncertainty and anticipation; possible narratives begin to cohere and, just as quickly, dissolve.
Tonight, Lertxundi has chosen to present two of her most recent works and one of her earliest, along with films by three other artists, influences and contemporaries. Philosophy in the Bedroom, Peggy Ahwesh’s home-movie staging of boudoir small-talk as improvised psychodynamics, showcases elements that have deeply shaped Lertxundi’s filmmaking: what Lertxundi has called the articulation of “a feminine position as a space for production” as well as Ahwesh’s “investment in pleasure.” Indeed, Lertxundi’s own Footnotes to a House of Love tunes into an Ahweshian lo-fi audio environment in the midst of a parched Southern California landscape. Mary Helena Clark’s Sound over Water, described succinctly by the artist as “blue sky and blue sea meet on emulsion,” submerges the viewer in a resplendent azure wash of hand-processed images punctuated by sonic depth charges, while Utskor: Either/ Or presents Lertxundi’s observations on a Norwegian coastal town and the domestic spaces it might include, with a nod to Friedrich Engels’s proto-feminist treatise The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.
The penultimate work in the program, Beatrice Gibson’s Agatha, narrates a speculative fiction about a planet populated by beings of indeterminate gender who communicate through movement and color. Shot among the gorse and slate of North Wales, Gibson’s film is based on a dream by composer Cornelius Cardew, and Lertxundi’s The Room Called Heaven likewise communicates through means both alien and familiar—in the rich purples and electric reds of a swath of fabric, the cartoon-sun-yellow of a curious lemon obscuring the face of a friend, or clouds wandering uncannily across an interior doorway. As Lertxundi once put it, “There’s an emotional rawness in my work that is beyond reach, even to me.”
“Lertxundi’s films are relatively brief, barely exceeding the ten-minute mark, but they are densely layered with poetic images of young people lingering among the rundown motels and silhouetted ridges of Los Angeles, as well as the lush balladry of Southern soul. To be seduced by their surface beauty, however, misses the complex formal operations occurring within them. While her work has the veneer of pathos—two of her titles reference tears—there is a tension between the accessibility of sounds and images and the manner in which they’re presented, sometimes paired in jarring contrast...Emotion is loosed in Lertxundi’s films, and it suffuses their environs like the Los Angeles smog: enigmatic, undirected, and capable of intensifying the late day light with brilliant hues. If there is a sense of loss in these thematic and formal excavations, it is distant and diffuse. The event—the disaster, even—has long since happened, and in Lertxundi’s films we’re left sifting through the wreckage, recovering fragments that might catch a glimmer of light or echo a radio-garbled tune, a past revivified in the present.” - Genevieve Yue
Followed by a conversation between Lertxundi and Yue.
Laida Lertxundi makes films with non-actors, landscapes, and sounds. Her work has screened at the 2013 Lyon Biennial, the 2012 Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art, LACMA, the New York Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Viennale. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at UC San Diego.
Genevieve Yue is an assistant professor of Culture and Media at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts.
Tickets - $7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.