Video artist Michel Auder also goes long-form with his three-hour memoir, The Feature. The diary film is solipsistic by nature. Some practitioners, like Andrew Noren, are compelling for their technical virtuosity; others, like Jonas Mekas, make great work by documenting their times—or at least their scene. Auder is among the latter, drawing on four decades of material for his career summa.
The Feature begins with the disclaimer, “This narrative is not a true account,” and indeed Auder appears as a character in a framing story directed by Andrew Neel; he’s been diagnosed with brain cancer and is inspired to review his life as he recorded it. That past will surely hold the greatest fascination for those familiar with the cast: Taylor Mead getting high; Auder’s first wife, the Warhol superstar Viva!, giving birth (and Uncle Andy photographing the baby); Jonas clowning in a Paris café; Eric Bogosian disappearing into an East Village shooting gallery; and Auder’s second wife, photography superstar Cindy Sherman, primly doing her thing.
The movie is a-chronological, dense, and fragmentary. Auder, whose voice-over narration alternates between sing-song mumble and muffled drone, compares his film to a handful of water. The deterioration of the video image is often the strongest visual effect, despite the attention given to Auder’s bout with heroin and sexual exploits. The latter includes a graphic but tender transaction with an Eighth Avenue hooker. Auder maintains he’s never shown this material for fear of shocking the art world—perhaps, but the scene mainly demonstrates that Auder’s life is more interesting than his art.