Rediscovering Futurism 1920-1929: A Project by Kurt Ralske and Miriam Atkin
Every student of art history knows Pablo Picasso’s famous dictum that “art is a lie that tells the truth,” but it takes a keen, dialectical imagination to really have fun with this idea. Rediscovering Futurism 1920-1929, a fascinating collaboration by multi-media artist Kurt Ralske and poet Miriam Atkin is part-history lesson and part poetic farce of the highest order. The show introduces the character of the German cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan, a key player in Weimar avant-garde circles. In breaks from his work on commercial films like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” (1927) he made his own art using the “Schüfftan Process,” a cinematic collage technique that exposed multiple frames inside a camera. Ralske has “discovered” these still images and short films that resemble an odd hybrid of Italian Futurist painting and sepia-toned Cubism. Fascism and the carnage of war are evoked in footage of dense, gyrating crowds as the human form is abstracted beyond recognition into an object. But through this inherently dark vision of the 20th century there emerges much light in the presence of language, music, and the presiding mystery of the show’s narrative. Atkin’s wall texts bring us closer to “the galloping question” of how advanced technology and mortality are intimately linked in the delirious dream of all avant-garde movements, past, present, and future.
On view until May 31
Eugen Schüfftan, “1927 Untitled Film Still #1”, 2010, C-print, 4 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist.