Attack of the Mutants

Tracking the Resurgence of Experimental Film

GS I've always had three words to say to that: MTV. It seems to me MTV is a sort of training ground to wean people off of conventional narrative—disjunctive montages being a dominant stylistic device.

JH Speaking of MTV, what do you make of an art-world filmmaker like Matthew Barney?

AT People are automatically going to resent anybody who doesn't have a hard time raising half a million dollars.

Sadie Benning’s Flat Is Beautiful, which screens at this year’s Whitney Biennial
photo courtesy of The Whitney Museum of Art
Sadie Benning’s Flat Is Beautiful, which screens at this year’s Whitney Biennial

BF Barney's the first person in a long time doing this kind of film in the art-world context where you're expected to sit through the whole thing. That's the big difference to me.

PA I hate it. To me, it's like advertising that's built on anxiety, like "I'm not good enough, I'm not rich enough." I think that's how people view the films. They don't understand them. I find them really irritating. The production values are so Thorsten Veblen—conspicuous consumption. That drives me crazy.

JH Whose work would you rather promote?

GS Stephanie Barber in Milwaukee is doing interesting work. It involves optical printing, found materials, very disjunctive—the sound content at odds with the visuals. Someone we would love to program is a Boston-based filmmaker, Tracy MacCullion, who has a film called Gash. She's a very exciting new filmmaker.

PA She's a hand grenade! Tracy is a volatile talent with a very intuitive creative process. She makes raw, scrappy lesbian narratives with gore and stabbings and girls-on-the-run themes. Nida Sinnokrot is an emerging artist whose film and video installations use motors from old flatbeds and projectors—reinventing 24-frames-per-second movie material.

BF A lot of people are working with things that were already there. That's one of the things that I like a lot about what Luis Recoder does; he doesn't really alter the material he's working with, he alters something about the way he presents it and makes it into something very different, exposing something already there.

JH You've all been very polite, no one's mentioned the lack of critical discourse or journalistic attention. Whereas there are always people who want to be film reviewers, there aren't that many inclined to report on difficult movies. Maybe this will help.

A Guide to the New York Experimental Film Scene

Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave, 505-5110,

Millennium Film Workshop Inc., 66 E 4th St, 673-0090,

The Robert Beck Memorial Cinema at Collective: Unconscious, 145 Ludlow St, 254-5277,

Pratt Film Series at Pratt Institute, Dekalb bet. Hall & Classon Sts, Brooklyn, 718-636-3422,

Brooklyn Babylon Cinema at Dumba, 57 Jay St, Brooklyn, 718-670-3719,

Two Boots Pioneer Theater, 155 E 3rd St, 254-3300,

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