Friday, June 7, 2019


Dear Questioning, Quitting, and Beginning,

Submitted for your approval: James Benning's film Twenty Cigarettes.

It might be genius, or maybe it is just boring.  It is definitely beautiful, and certainly uncomfortable in the old familiar performance art way, although I love the distance the camera imposes between me and these people.  There's a bit of the *sublime in it, the void, the terrible immensity of us.

I guess what it could be is just a document, or a collection like any other: bottlecaps or Fiestaware or first editions.  I don't think it can be watched in it's entirety, except as a kind of endurance test, like a triathlon.  I love the uncomfortableness of the persons being filmed, and how that reflects onto viewers; like an enchanted mirror.  I also love the way my mind won't stop supplying a narrative in the vacuum of one:  Where is this person?  What are they feeling?  What do they do when they aren't in front of this camera?

* The sublime in art is a delightful concept that we spent many months discussing in graduate school, which is a place made for such pastimes, because no one there has any soil to till or livestock to feed.   I adored it, of course, and you would have too, but for a five second description of what it refers to, see this link.