Barbara Kruger

  • Let it B.

    THE MOVIE SCREEN IS A blatant mass of mute chiaroscuro locked in a long shot, a motley interior suggesting lives better left for dead. Suddenly something stirs and the frame is filled with an obstruction: a fuzzy mass of parameciumlike tendencies making mincemeat of narrative figuration. And then the music starts, or some kind of blaring, bleating, jazzlike emanation, as zanily abstract and totally treble as the image it accompanies. This is not some piece of lint stuck in the projector, not a soupçon of art-film technique, but simply the back of a head leaning into the camera: another trick

  • Kim Ingraham; Rea Tajiri

    Sentiment and refinement—one a process and a state of mind that is vulnerable to stereotype and primed for perpetual manipulation; the other a closure that locks the heady sweetness of good taste into the stratospheres of high-toned acquisition. Considerations of these two notions motor the video work of Kim Ingraham and Rea Tajiri, with Ingraham splashing around the soppy marshes of sentiment, while Tajiri acridly eyes the encapsulations of esthetics, genre, and commodity.

    Overflowing with bulky depictions of sticky romantic “scenes” and chilling parodies of society’s dispensations for its

  • Hearings and seeings and the law on diaries.

    TELEVISION THRIVES ON DISCLOSURAL spectacles. From the kooky narratives of soap operas to the issue-mongering of docudramas to the jurisprudence of the supposedly real, it engages the pleasures of disbelief. Three decades after what was called the Army-McCarthy “hearings,” it is clear that television has transformed the confessional and cleansing ritual into what can only be named the Irangate “seeings.”

    The yen for disclosure has also always been the nub of print journalism. But where print has always been concerned with getting the story, sipping the leaks,spilling the beans, telling all, with

  • Television

    LOOKING SLIGHTLY CONFUSED, Mike Seaver is leaning against a locker in the corridor of his high school. Long lashes frame his hazel eyes, which are tinged with incredulousness, while his chubby well-formed lips are parted just a smidgen. This look belongs to Kirk Cameron, who portrays Mike on ABC’s Growing Pains. This look has launched a thousand ships and sailed Growing Pains into the top ten of the most-watched TV shows. In addition, Cameron grins from the covers of gangs of fave-rave monthlies: on Teen Beat he dons a yellow T-shirt and a dazzling white jacket, his arms waving languorously; on

  • Ana Carolina, Mar de Rosas

    Carolina is one of Brazil’s leading female directors of feature films. Carolina uses her camera like a diagnostic tool, and her methodology suggests her experience attending medical school. The results are a brashly confrontational visual discourse on the body and its absorption into Brazil’s history of authoritarian regimes. Between 1967 and 1974 she made many documentaries that deal with the notions of political reality, for example, Anatomia do Espectador (Anatomy of the spectator, ca. 1970–72) and Getúlio Vargas, 1974. But the documentary genre became problematic for her, as she had difficulty

  • Television

    A CUTE LITTLE GIRL SITS amid a fuzzy heavenly wonderland, lazily daydreaming and musing, “If I had my way, I’d spend all my day with Ronald and his friends.” No, this is not a wish for a vacation in the White House, but rather a burning yearning to kill some time at McDonald’s, to trade this woozily gorgeous locale for a seat in some orange plastic meat-palace. Such is the stuff of one of the many scrumptiously spurious commercials that dot the terrain of Saturday-morning TV, making it a veritable meringue of aerated kid-vid, a zappy pitchfest for cereal, bubble gum, robots, cereal, dolls, candy,

  • Let your eyes do the walking. The armchair mall.

    A GIANT WRIST INVADES the TV screen, larger than life and sporting pores the size of M&Ms. Loosely embracing its circumference is a slight gold bracelet, which, magnified by the camera, takes on the dimensions of a bicycle chain. The wrist rotates slightly, causing the bracelet’s facets to dazzle the eye while a voice brassily hawks the virtues of this yellowish metallic object, extolling its gorgeousness and bargain-basement price tag. In quick succession, another item appears, in 18-karat gold chain propped up on a piece of velvet and nudged by an insinuating gaily-colored wand. Sometimes the

  • The New York Film Festival

    The New York Film Festival roster was again awash with continental sexualité; saucy tidbits ripe for American connoisseurial delectation. A glance at the menu tells it all: films about nuns in a convent or a young girl discovering their repressedly churning libidos are certainly not dissimilar to last year’s young girl discovering her newly spiraling libido. Not only is it problematic to speak of a national cinema, but it would be a mistake to categorize French films, or any other, on the basis of a few arty export flicks chosen by a coterie of festival directors and critics. But certain

  • Television

    WHAT IS IT about watching something sour before your very eyes: become old and unmarketable? Seeing this kind of spectacle unfold on TV is nearly revelatory because it’s so unusual. Video product tends to either be out of it and old hat at its inception or, because of poor ratings, plucked from visibility long before it loses its bloom or even hits its stride. We are, however, currently witnessing an exception to that rule, a hallowed piece of broadcast product going through a slow and excruciating public disintegration: the fall from grace of the knight of the night, Johnny Carson.

    For twenty-five

  • Ken McMullen, Zina

    In Ken McMullen’s Ghostdance, 1983, Leonie Mellinger and the late Pascal Ogier wandered around aimlessly but gorgeously, searching for ghosts and hearing voices. One of the voices they heard and heeded was that of Jacques Derrida, philosopher of international renown. In McMullen’s Zina, 1985, we once again watch a ravishingly beautiful woman wander around, entranced by the real and hallucinated voice of another bastion of greatness, her daddy Leon Trotsky (played by Philip Madoc). Zina Bronstein (Domiziana Giordano) is in a bad state, alternately blurting and pouting, blond tendrils framing her

  • Television

    CERTAIN SONGS HAVE A KIND of hook that coaxes us into a hazily pleasurable looplike riff between nostalgia and futurology. Certain magazines have a kind of hook that couples a seemingly endless variety of sameness with a trashy veneer of the unbelievable. From The National Enquirer to its upscale relations People and Us, these publications emit a relentlessly ridiculous yet compelling rendition of information and its relationship to “celebrity.” This magazine format has also invaded television, emerging in the form of newslike presentations and life-style shows. The most persistently visible

  • Yvonne Rainer, The Man Who Envied Women

    “I’ve never seduced a virgin or intruded upon a valid marriage,” declares a man who admits to the gentility of his social relations. “You can ask me about the peculiarities of my shit, just don’t ask me how much money I have in the bank,” confides a man whose discretion extends only to his finances. “It’s possible to have the whole story of Oedipus playing in your head and still behave properly at the dinner table,” suggests a man with more than a soupçon of analytic grace.

    Who is this man who appropriates and dispenses wisdom with the aplomb of an encyclopedia salesman, who collapses upon the