"The Onlooker, The Critic, and the Poser"

Jaime Davidovich
Owen Land
Valérie Mréjen

Carte blanche to Enrico Camporesi and Jonathan Pouthier

Cinémathèque Robert-Lynen, Paris
Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Valérie Mréjen, Blue Bar, 2000.

Hey, how's it going?
Great and you?

The scene is a show opening. You came there without being fully convinced but with a sense of obligation, blended with a weak curiosity and the undefeatable hope (soon vanished) to find tonifying free alcohol. Now you are there, and could not leave that easily. It's too late. The fatal question has surfaced:

What are you working on now?

The thing is: you are working on some projects. You are preparing a screening, as Caro Sposo has invited you.

Ha, and what's it about?

By "This" you mean: "openings, conversations, meetings." Of course! Yet you immediately think of art criticism, the unfinished phrasings, the posers, and the clichés surrounding all of this. You don't know that well the people you are talking to and you are proceeding with caution here. That's when you think about Owen Land, the most caustic observer of the clichés of experimental film. Undesirables was precisely about that. You already screened the thing elsewhere, though it doesn't really matter because you did not have a big audience and many people left during the screening (subtitles were missing). And yet it spoke to you directly! He was caricaturing his fellow filmmakers and their works. But in doing so, he was whimsically reaching the core of the avant-garde.

Jaime Davidovich, you start thinking, was doing something quite close to this in the 1980s. As a modern Diogenes, he was looking for the same, elusive object in his Adventures of the Avant-Garde. But all of this suddenly appears too far away, and after all you are in Paris, not in New York, not even in Iowa City. You look around, you do not know how to run away—and you almost unveiled your whole screening! Suddenly, a fulguration. You say it out nonchalantly, thanks to Valérie Mréjen:

What about you? Are you involved in that thing with the frogs?

There you go, at last! You have your program notes, and the screening is about to start.