Thursday, March 24, 1994

Artificial Paradises

Strange Weather (1993) by Peggy Ahwesh & Margie Strosser &The Connection (1961) by Shirley Clarke

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Separated by thirty years, clashing technologies, and a different dope of choice (smack vs. crack), Shirley Clarke’s classic improvisational film The Connection and Ahwesh/Strosser’s pixelvision tape Strange Weather would appear to have little in common other than their fascination with the drug demi-monde. They are, however, uncannily overlapping works, each toying with the audience’s expectations and constructions of “reality” and the ways that cinema and video can “derange” the boundaries between vérité and fiction. In Strange Weather Ahwesh and Strosser accentuate the ritual and theater of drug addiction, poking the camera into the claustrophobic Florida habitat of young crackheads who smoke, slack, score, and search for meaning in the eye of a televised hurricane. In Clarke’s inventive film treatment of the Living Theater Production The Connection, an octet of junkies listlessly wait for a fix in an East Village loft as the camera be-bops around them, riffing along to a great jazz score.