[a long time exposure in the front gallery]
[a quicker shutter during the performance in the second gallery]
It almost doesn't get much more exciting than this. I suppose I mean Chelsea.
We stopped by at Oliver Kamm's 5BE opening tonight because . . . , well maybe just because, since at least one of us hadn't done his homework. I couldn't remember who Amy Granat was, but I did remember an intriguing subtitle, "Scratch Films / Stars Way Out (for O.K. )".
Somehow I had confused "scratch" for "snuff" so I must have been the only one surprised to find the show was totally devoid of prurient interest and in fact safe for children of all ages.
Safe, except perhaps for the volume of a very special 7:30 performance, but more on that later on.
The work is very good, and looking at it I immediately remembered the great show she had put together in the gallery's 22nd Street location.
Granat is a sculptor who works with sound and light (as well as some of the more substantial materials of the form) and that includes, by attacking and scratching the material's own emulsion, the fabrication of totally abstract films for projection.
What we saw in the first room of the gallery space was excitng and very, very beautiful, but I selfishly found myself slightly disappointed. I had assumed at first that the almost total darkness and the jumpiness of her white projections would mean pictures were impossible.
In the end I was surprised that my camera managed somehow to suggest the experience (absent the sporadically-explosive soundtrack and the whirr of three projectors) of being in that very dark room. The second room, where Granat had installed in one corner a more passive sculpture of her own film stills made corporeal and delicately lit by a flood or projector lamp, would have been even easier to document, but Barry and I quickly fell into an animated conversation with friends while a larger crowd filled the gallery and blocked a view of the work.
We eventually left the space to visit several neighboring galleries also opening shows tonight, and then we returned for the performance Oliver had told us about earlier, partly because it had succeeded in advertising some of its charms through the walls which separated 5BE from the neighboring gallery.
I squeezed into the back room, emboldened as a documentarian by the challenge of relieving Oliver's obvious dismay over the fact that his own camera had just died. One projector (from the front room?) and an ancient synthesizer had been thrown onto a small table along a wall. Granat was manipulating the former and some mad, modern troubadour was operating the electronic boards. Barry later described the environment as something of a 1960's or 70's downtown happening, but what does he know? Wasn't he busy being born about that time?
I loved the intensity of the music,, which I'll evoke here by referencing Lou Reed's notorious 1975 "Metal Machine Music", quite possibly my absolute favorite experimental music album.
I got a few pictures and I was so wrapped up in the energy of that room I didn't really notice the alarming decibel level of the music until after I had gotten onto the sidewalk. Barry said he had not been able to deal with it and never really made it into the room. What, what'd you say? Can't hear you
Leaving the gallery I spotted a thinly-packaged CD taped to the counter. Of course I bought a copy; my passion for new music actually predates and has totally survived my addiction to underknown art. Only when I got back home did I really take a look at the modest description on the paper sleeve. The artists were listed as Amy Granat and Stefan Tcherepnin. I knew the name Tcherepnin, but couldn't remember the given name of the man I recalled as a very important electronic composer. Besides, hadn't he died a few years ago?
I did a bit of Googling and then I recalled that early in the evening Oliver had shown us the synthesizer in the office of the gallery and had said something about the father of Granat's collaborator having assembled it himself in the 70's. Bingo!
We had been priveleged to watch and listen to this very execiting member of the fourth generation of a remarkable family of composers in a collaboration with a visual artist equally as exciting.
Oh yes, I can definitely recommend the CD. Not quite as intense as the work performed in the gallery, it did good service as our dinner music tonight. But then our musical tastes accomodate some pretty strange stuff. Some people might need some chemicals.
On his site, Barry shows and broadcasts moving image and [very loud] sound from tonight's performance captured on his little magic phone!
Download 136K 36PP movie
For another, somewhat more gentle sample of Tcherepnin's music see this Oberlin site.