Tucked into the visual cacophony of the current show devoted to the fabulously garish Icelandic political pop artist known as Erró are a pair of 16mm movies unmentioned in any history of ’60s avant-garde filmmaking. The 20-minute Concerto Mécanique (1963) is a comic late addition to the Dada tradition. A young couple usually outfitted with bizarre media extensions perform an elaborate robot dance in a world of mannequins—a performance that, for some reason, was underwritten by the drug corporation Sandoz.
More attuned to the fashions of ’60s New York, Grimaces (1962–67) is a 42-minute series of brief close-ups in which a succession of European and American art luminaries (Marcel Duchamp, Ted Joans, Taylor Mead, Carolee Schneeman, and Marjorie Strider, to name only a few) squint, scrunch, and gape, waggling tongues, baring teeth, crossing eyes, and generally making like Jim Carrey. Accompanied by a chattering soundtrack in which each name is ridiculously distorted, the movie is, like Concerto Mécanique, essentially musical. The mode, however, is Fluxus by way of Warhol’s screen tests, and the man himself gets his 15 seconds, staring blankly at the camera, with his mouth slightly open.