Sunday, March 26, 2006

Shadows, Specters, Shards

Making History in Avant-Garde Film: James Benning's Utopia

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Jeffrey Skoller continues his investigation of avant-garde film’s multi-faceted relation to history with tonight’s screening of James Benning’s Utopia. Visually reminiscent of the ‘California Trilogy’ in its carefully wrought long takes of landscapes—here of Death Valley and southwards, past the Mexican border—Utopia ‘steals’ its soundtrack wholesale from Richard Dindo’s film about the last days of Che Guevara and his unsuccessful Bolivian campaign. With the intriguing notion of ‘virtual histories,’ Skoller examines Benning’s piece and its insinuations about the political and topographical history of Southern California as a ‘complex interplay between events that actually did happen and what can be imagined or desired in relation to them.’ (Irina Leimbacher)