George Kuchar I Miss You

I am completely and utterly mad at myself for not going to the George Kuchar show at MoMA PS1 until the last day so I couldn't spread the word in a timely fashion! It is a sadly perfect metaphor for his life though being that this exhibit was an amazing retrospective of his career but celebrating these things after his recent death. More clapping for the living please!!!! (Note: PS1's website wanted to point out that the show was programmed prior to Kuchar's passing...but still, he's been making work for decades! It is a little late!)

Anyway...the show was titled Pagan Rhapsodies and was the single best film centered curation I think I have ever seen! Shooting in all strange forms of home movie cameras with a handmade charm, Kuchar's films are psychotic homages to the absurdity of Hollywood, charming personal documentaries, hilarious sketches of a grotesque society all historically forming the base work for the video art genre. I heard a guy at the show commenting to a woman that "Kuchar was virtually unknown" which is only slightly true, he might be unknown to audiences but every video/film/experimental artist working today is stemming from the legacy he began way back in the 60s with his legendary meta films (like Hold Me While I'm Naked 1966 and I, An Actress 1977) taking the film medium into a reflexive artistic realm . The influence game isn't a particularly fun one but so many artists list Kuchar as a part of their craft and, knowingly or not, you can see traces of his work in so many of today's contemporaries: John Waters, Ryan Trecartin, Mike Kelley, Martha Colburn and on and on.

Large projections of his cloudy, vibrant images were screened on walls with a few homey rows of real movie theater style seating, two other rooms were filled with boxy tv monitors on well sized/scattered wooden tables with headphones and individual seats (which really made the personal matter Kuchar included in his films be an intimate experience and which were also sculpturally appealing in their own presentation), low lit paintings in his wonderfully comic R. Crumb grossness hung unassumingly on the walls and a bright lit room containing black & white comics was also on view- overall making a varied portrait of this oddball Renaissance man. As always, his films fulfill a role in society that is hard to come by and hard to explain. A short called Club Vatican that portrayed the cultish and twisted qualities of organized religion was near a short film called Weather Diaries that followed an Oklahoma twister zone while kids played in a puddle in front a vulnerable trailer park, sailing boats in a river on the stormy plains which was next to another film, A Reason To Live, about an adulterer whose fate is in the clouds as he dreams of a pilot life and he plays out the mother/whore filmic cliches through his relationships. Nature, nurture, myth, film and the warping of societal constraints are the backbone of Kuchar's art but it is his funny and kind side that reflects a tone that never seems to exist in what we like to label "art". In fact, this is the ONLY art show I have ever been to where people genuinely were moved to laugh at the sweetness and care Kuchar took with his films.

Following his death there have been a lot of people working to preserve the life of this amazing man. A man whose character is one that I think is a beautiful rarity in an artistic landscape of hard edges and little heart(s)! George (do you mind if I call you George? I did meet you once? And meeting you still continues to give me so much hope in the rocky creative landscape....sniffle) I can't begin to know how the world will go on being filmed without you behind a camera. (Note: George! I apologize for these photos...I took them on my phone in attempts to obey the no photo rule...!)



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.