Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crossroads: The Films of Bruce Conner

Program Two

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

In his drive to re-present mainstream culture’s visual icons of violence and conformity, sex and death, Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was a master of irony and juxtaposition. Arguably the inventor of the “found footage” genre and the music video, Conner’s films, including A Movie, Cosmic Ray and Mongoloid, are veritable x-rays of the 20th Century American mind. Report and Television Assassination represent struggles to come to terms with the cruelties of history and its mediated representation while the chillingly meditative Crossroads ambivalently commemorates history’s one-way trajectory. These films and others – notably the profoundly nostalgic Valse Triste and Take the 5:10 to Dreamland – expose and describe collective fantasies and fears, while ultimately remaining deeply personal, intimate and darkly elusive. Conner, famously distrustful of art world elitism, made films that were immediately accessible, immensely pleasurable, yet frequently highly critical (even condemnatory) of the culture from which they grew. They represent the thrills and spills of Conner’s seventy-four years. This two-part celebration of the work of Bruce Conner includes (nearly) every work completed by this highly original, deeply American artist, including rarities, recent works and other surprises. (Steve Polta)

Taking what was at hand, Bruce Conner reached into the human subconscious, into the heartland, into the dreamland, into the dark, and made a meticulous visionary irreverent metaphysical art. Erotic, mysterious, astute.
– Mark McElhatten

Driven by an obsessive and contrarian mind… he was the flip-side of American Gothic – had seen the Holy Ghost in the midnight sky above the stark prairie, and that terror was ever celebrated in the apocalypses of his Art.
– Craig Baldwin

Screening: America Is Waiting; Breakaway; Cosmic Ray; Crossroads; Looking For Mushrooms (Long Version); Marilyn Times Five; Mongoloid; Report; Ten Second Film; Vivian.

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