Friday, April 26, 2019 at 7pm
William E. Jones's Massillon + Fall into Ruin

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Massillon, William E. Jones, 1991, 16mm, 70 mins
Fall into Ruin, William E. Jones, 2017, digital projection, 30 mins

The dynamic of William E. Jones's work lies in the tensions between, on the one hand, deep-running vortices of emotion and, on the other, the angular severities of social control, tensions drawn out from the otherwise obscured historical records of gay men’s subjective experiences and shared fantasies. Among the source materials for his numerous films and publications are 1970s pornography, legal data, pop music, and personal memories; extraordinary and unexpected facets emerge from the obsessive jewel-cutting that Jones performs on this raw ore.

Massillon, Jones’s first feature-length film, revisits his hometown of Massillon, Ohio, represented in two dialectical registers: rigidly lensed shots of municipal buildings, tree-lined highways, and other local landscapes, and Jones’s voice-over, coolly measured and calculated, relating both autobiographical anecdotes and a chronicle of anti-sodomy laws. Recalling a time when the distant glimmers of gay liberation made little impact on a boy coming of age in a declining Rust Belt city, Jones’s words evoke a process of sexual awakening that transpires within a thick cloud of unknowing, defined as a persistent search for information and enlightenment through subterranean clues, vague rumors, and covert networks. These range from lingering suspicions about two seemingly straight friends who openly joked about blowing each other to recountings of a furtive truck-stop fuck, for which the blunt odor of shit emerging from the hole-in-the-ground toilets bears a comparable weight to Proust’s madeleine—wafting through Jones’s memory not so much for any perverse pleasure, but instead as a marker of our politically determined degradation.

For this evening's presentation at Light Industry, which is occasioned by the recent publication of his queer bildungsroman I'm Open to Anything, Jones will introduce and discuss Massillon alongside his video Fall into Ruin. The latter work, marking a return to the essayistic mode of his earlier films, is a tale of vanished splendor revolving around the legendary gallerist Alexander Iolas. The piece advances as a sequence of still images, counterposing the dealer's Athens estate, now graffiti-laden and gone to seed, with its former opulence, as captured by the camera of a 19-year-old Jones many years prior when the two crossed paths. Iolas, whose art collection disappeared following his death from AIDS-related complications in 1987, proves to be an echt Jones subject, which is to say elusive, enigmatic, and rich with contradiction. How to narrate a life when all that remains is rubble? Here is a story of myriad gaps, yet for Jones these lacunae function not as endpoints, but rather, as elsewhere, beginnings.

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.