Duncan Campbell and the Bruce High Quality Foundation Take A Bumpy Ride to Utopia

Post-post-punk art crews buckle up for disenchantment

Campbell combines documentary/found footage with fictional interviews in which actors play the roles of Irish car workers. Captions are virtually excluded, and there's no effort to present an easily digestible narrative, which is what separates his work from straight documentary—although parallels can be drawn with Barbara Kopple's Harlan County U.S.A. and American Dream, and, of course, Michael Moore's Roger & Me. Campbell's subject is a slippery one, though. In this context, labor isn't just labor, but divided into Catholics and Protestants, and DeLorean's "American pioneering spirit" looks creepy when he starts to describe his attempts to create "the illusion of credibility in the marketplace."

Dude, where's my gull-winged car? From Make It New John
Courtesy BBC Motion Gallery
Dude, where's my gull-winged car? From Make It New John

Details

Bruce High Quality Foundation: 'Brucennial 2010: Miseducation'
350 West Broadway
Through April 12

Duncan Campbell: "Make It New John'
Artists Space
38 Greene Street, 212-226-3970
Through May 1

Because the DeLorean saga is a bit of actual history, I won't be spoiling it to tell you that things didn't work out, although Campbell does omit the sordid, drug-trafficking saga that DeLorean became ensnared in, and his later acquittal. What's impressive about the film is how it takes an Irish-British-American tale and allows it to expand into an exegesis on capitalism, neoliberalism, and our recent global-economic quandary. The seeds are all here: Reaganomics, Thatcherism, deregulation, the "friendly" face of globalization and its localized consequences. Campbell's version of the DeLorean tale ends with an appropriately scripted Beckettian moment. I won't give that away. But utopia, from its vantage, feels very remote.

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