Wednesday 23 November 2016

Andy Warhol (and Cindy Sherman) in Wellington

Warhol filming
The big exhibition of Cindy Sherman's photographs that originated at GOMA in Brisbane has moved on to the Wellington City Gallery. There is an addition to the photos on show from Brisbane, a huge semi-circular mural that has been designed by and installed to Sherman's instructions. It is attached/glued to the wall and will be destroyed when the exhibition ends.

Off to the side in the Gallery's theatre is a separate show - a screening of a film titled here Andy Warhol's Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys.  In the manner of these things, there are only twelve boys included in the assembly, two of them with repeated images from different angles. But these are claimed to be the first twelve of a series that eventually numbered into the hundreds and was paralleled by a similar film titled 13 Most Beautiful Women (or is it Girls?). My information is 'they were shot around 1963-64, quite early in Warhol's filmmaking career, in the original Factory.' According to the program notes.
Gerard Malanga, first of the 'screen tests'.
(not the actual image)

Each image lasts around four minutes on screen. They were filmed on a 16mm Bolex camera and an entire reel of film was used for each. The different running time arises because the film is projected at 16 frames per second.

Which brings me to one of two gripes. The information about the restoration of the film, its re-assembly into what it is now (lacking a front title, and the only words being a 2016 copyright claim at the end) is explained in a very slipshod manner. What should be made known in the circumstances is the exact process of restoration, editing and assembly onto the digital copy. Wellington's City gallery earns no prizes for the information it gives both on the leaflet and stencilled onto the wall out front, which is also the only place where you get the list of participants in order. My suggestion is for the Gallery to take some tutorials into how to impart this information from now near local ex-Sydney resident David Hare who has spent a lifetime keeping himself up to date on the technological advances that allow images to be restored and access to be regained and frequently imparts his knowledge on the Film Alert blog.

....and, other gripe, once again this film is presented on a continuous loop.No starting or finishing times are made known. People have no other choice but to wander in and start watching, or wander in and stand at the back for a minute or two or wander in with a couple of staff members and then have a conversation out in the nearby corridor thus breaking up the silence of the occasion. So, during the course of yesterday's viewing I can report that five others came in for a partial look including one young man who took a phone call and texted a response. Gallery 'installations' of material like this are a bane of the modern world.

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