March 21, 2011

The Bisected Moon – Takahiko iimmura at Microscope

Takahiko iimura: Between the Frames
Microscope, March 19-April 11, 2011

It was a supermoon over the Township of Bushwick. When the moon is full the penumbra of the City of Williamsburg draws inwards like a contracting tide, and the great heath of northern Brooklyn reclaims its Bushwickness for a night. In the round ass of that very Bushwick lies the confluence of Evergreen and Myrtle, and in a pocket of that neighborhood is the gallery called microscope.

The more industrial the region, the more rarefied the event. The door to the place actually opens. And though the place is dark and silent, thirty people stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the room. On the wall the moon flickers, in the shape of so many holes punched into a 60-foot loop of 16-mm film. Only the sputter of a projector sounds in the room. The loop of film careens like a cable along the length of the ceiling, and then the wiggling strip of film drops down in front of the jiggling moon, bisecting it.

Heads are transfixed, silhouettes are still, cellphone cameras raised all around. All the rest is space | space split open. Space bisected by the string of celluloid that also casts the dancing strobe. When the film finally jams in a hot red toenail of light and the projector finally coughs and chokes on the film, the room erupts in applause, the house lights go up, and Takahiko iimura waves a springy bush of film triumphantly aloft.

iimura has been working in experimental film since the 1960s. On the press release Jonas Mekas writes, “He has explored this direction of cinema in greater depth than anyone else.” This is as basic, as classical a work of “conceptual” or “structural film” as you'll find, the work of a master axeman of the minimalist ilk. A piece of cinema, sculpture, and performance art, since iimura punches the holes into the film as it is rolling, until the film becomes too weak and jams up.

From an old school conceptualist, this is a poignant remark on Bushwick today. It was "just" a simple film sculpture. But in deft shorthand, iimura illuminated a neighborhood that has in fact made a transformation from manufacturing to a so-called "creative economy" that includes film production.