ON CURATING

The practice of curating film programs, taps the essence of practical and philosophical issues of context, duration, and history in which the ephemereal but immersive time arts are imbedded. You can carry around a painting, stick it on a wall, leave it somewhere for a year and it might get a little dry or moldy but it won't change. It exists in the gloppy material world. Film only comes alive in the dark temples of light know as cinemas (like closets, garages and basements). It is us, the curators who are the Virgil(s) who must guide the audience into the twenty-four cycles of illumination. Unlike standard feature length films which may, in their entirety fill the container of an evening, short films, though worlds unto themselves, must function as co-existent molecules. And indeed, to hastily assemble a program, is to do extreme violence to the structural, durational, and thematic intensity of any given short film. Experimental film is fragile to begin with- it is sometimes silent, hazy in it's contours, maddenly and intentionally long (at 10 minutes!), sonically warped, or so delicate in it's minimalism that the ommission of one moment is an amputation of essence. Moreover, rooted in a phenomenology of time, short filmworks are as long as they NEED to be: you can have a 45 second world, a 3 minute frequency dirge, a 20 minute fussy essay. With all of this in mind, it is the function of the curatorto order the film-unit elements of the evening into a generous and comprehending rythym. We must either understand or know why we hope to understand each film. To build an intelligent program, we must also understand the relationship of each film to a lineage of practice. There is a morality to film programming- you do it make visible and thus advance film art: every new film program is simultaneously an interpretation, a performance and an addition to a lineage of events. Context is essence. Little films are very responsive to their environment. Eight millimeter film looked vivid and large on our basement screen. Maya Deren's "Meshes of the Afternoon is an "indoors" film which shouldn't be projected outdoors. Squeezing a quiet little tickle film between 2 gory psychodramas might function as a little hiss of release or might kill the little film. Or the quiet tickle film might end up being the swaggering victor of the evening due to a dreamy knot of poet friends in the audience. There are some synapses and chemical reactions which are impossible to predict until the event occurs. The curator must love both film and filmmakers. Sometimes what is best for the evening is not best for an artist. You might have a perception of a film which tells you to situate it on a shakier plateau than the artist would wish. Curators sometimes anger and upset artists. Artists who are also curators are always growing in film. Film curators who have never made a film themselves can be either organizational angels, secretly failed (and thus sensitized) filmmakers, or the suspect equivalent of a male gynecologist wearing a heart covered necktie on Valentine's Day.

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