Friday, July 20, 2007

Yes, you do. You absolutely need a Gauguin skirt, complete with art historian commentary in higlighted French. 80s, printed on lightweight cotton, with a marvelous waist detail. A square, set-in waist panel keeps the pleats low on your hips giving this full skirt a more sleek look. The pattern has been expertly deployed here, creating a frame for the ladies, a detail from the 1891 painting "Hail Mary" on this obi-like waist.
Gauguin is a guilty pleasure for me. His work is undeniably beautiful, I can't help enjoying it. But the guy was a real schmuck. When he wasn't busy giving syphilis to 13-year-old Tahitian girls, he was at work appropriating their culture. Sounds traditionally colonialist to me. At the same time it is problematic (at best) to reject someone's art simply because you don't like their personal life. Isn't that what conservatives do? But then again, Monsieur Gauguin was molesting minors, for crying out loud!
Why not buy paintings by serial killers? This was the subject of a documentary called "Collectors", profiling the people who collect paintings and artwork made by serial killers, along with, Rick Stanton, a Lousiana mortician who began organizing what he calls "Death Row Art Shows" and has become an art dealer for the incarcerated. There has been considerable public outcry at the marketing of this murderabilia, a term coined by Andrew Kahn, Director of the Mayor's Crime Victims Office in Houston (at least according to this article).
Suffice to say that there isn't a serial killers wing in any museum I know of. (Not yet anyway, though many museums seem like one big misogyny exhibit.) Serial Killer art remains a sick joke of a novelty act. The collectors are more interested in the artist, rather than the work. I haven't actually seen the documentary, so I can't really describe how the issue is presented.
I have not found my way out of this moral dilemma. And I started watching Woody Allen films again last year, though I boycotted him for a while when he married his daughter.
Spartacus and I played Movie Theater Roulette last night and hit the jackpot with "The Lives of Others."
Movie Theater Roulette, for those who don't know, is a game of chance (and to some degree strategy). To play you need to be desperate for a movie. Or perhaps just desperate for airconditioning. Or maybe just desperate. A little depression can only make this game more fun. If you are slightly drunk and crying into your Crown Royal over your credit card bill, even better. Then barge into the nearest movie theater and buy a ticket for whatever is playing at that moment. Yep. You gotta take it without reading a review.
Now as you goslings well know, I am an incorrigible snob. I hedge my bets by only playing Movie Theater Roulette at my local art movie houses. I won't watch just anything, you know, but I'll generally watch anything subtitled. I've been this way since I was a tadpole.
"The Lives of Others" deserves all its accolades indeed. Expertly acted, the film is a morality play whose characters are still gritty and complicated. It's hard to believe that the film was Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's first feature. (Anthony Lane, writing for the New Yorker points out that the director has a name worthy of a hero with a dueling scar from the pages of the 19th Century novel.)
Though set in the not so distant past of Germany's GDR, and elaborately faithful to the aesthetic and technology of 1984 (Prop Master Klaus Spielhagen even borrowed items from the Stasi Museum in Leipzig for extra authenticity), the overarching themes of what makes a person decent, and how much pressure one can stand could easily be applied to other regimes. Von Donnersmarck has created a taut thriller that has been particularly cathartic in the former Eastern Germany. In an interview, the director lists various cast members who were persecuted under the former regime, but that in his picture, they were given the roles of Stasi thugs to gain mastery of their own experiences.
I am subject to Ostalgie, viewing the defunct GDR as quaint and kitsch as in films like "Goodbye Lenin". "The Lives of Others" is a good antidote.


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