Sunday, October 30, 2005

No Surprises.

Went to see the new Shirin Neshat yesterday at Barbara Gladstone. I didn't have much hope, but people seemed to be digging it so I gave it a shot. Bad move.

Her work always reminds me of Wegman's work with dogs. Visually seductive but hollow, one-dimensional, and—in the end—insulting to its subjects. More of the same here. I could pretty much see the visual and narrative path the film was going to take within 15 seconds of the beginning. And that's not because I have the mind of a NYPD detective. Like the rest of her work it's one (really obvious) note at best. It's like she's sitting at the piano hitting the Middle C over and over and over.

Speaking of which, the soundtrack is by Ryuchi Sakamoto. Some of the most compelling music of the last 20 years has been made by Sakamoto . . . when he's been working with someone else (David Byrne, David Sylvian, Carsten Nicolai, Fennesz). Alone, his work always feels derivative and flat. He's working alone here.

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