Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fahlstrom Spectacular

Today I'm all fried out from watching Fahlstrom movies at the State Archives of Sound and Images. Or distracted as it were.

The most impressive piece was the film based on F's happening "Kissses Sweeter than Wine," which features Rauschenberg as a teenage mathetmatician convulsing as he solves problems, sci-fi photage from the 60s, autistic twins with smoke coming out of them etc in what amounts to an exploration of subjectivity and politics. It seems to me he comes out at the end advocating humanoids and "pleasure houses" (where people can go to explore "music, theater, drugs, sex and each other").

The least impressive is the very normal (for the 1960s) Godard-influenced "Du Gamla, Du Fria," which doesn't do a whole lot that "I Am Curious" didn't do better. It just follows around a bunch of members of an experimental theater as they put on increasingly violent performances before getting lost in the woods (unlike Godard's perfectly competent cannibals in Weekend). Then one becomes a famous artist/poet/singer and one gets arrested. Unless I'm totally misreading the film, it ends by showing how the one guy who actually takes a job in the factory becomes the only relevant political activist - by talking to another worker about exploitation over drinks (for the first time in the film, a worker actually appears to agree etc). The END.

"Kisses" was made with the help of Bell Laboratories in 1966. A strange position for Fahlstrom since he was so radical politically. But this was the only instance he could really realize his technophilic ideas. Having read through the Modern Museum archives, I can tell you that he was repeatedly writing Pontus Hulten asking for help to realize the most extreme, spectacular (and at times, silly) happening and movies. For example, "I need 20 beautiful women to cut up 2400 suits" etc.

And yet ye chose to make such a dull movie as "Du Gamla Du Fria" when he had the chance. Of course I don't know the backstory to this. Maybe if I were to stay another week in Stockholm I'd have that story. But fortuantely for me I'm going home tomorrow.


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