Screening at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the exhibit “Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962-1964,” these four programs focus on early films in which Warhol used a stationary camera, his performers alternatively showing off and withering under his passive-aggressive gaze.
Couch (1964, 58 min.) consists of 14 unedited camera rolls, each showing the couch in Warhol’s “Factory” from a different angle. The various figures assembled around it form a series of powerfully blocked compositions, their mood overtly erotic: a great many bananas are consumed, one nude woman fails to attract the attention of a guy working on his motorcycle, and almost everyone stares off into the distance with a bored languor that has come to characterize a whole school of fashion photography. In the last third the sex becomes explicit, and the erotic glances of the early scenes give way to the viewer’s voyeuristic participation, one of Warhol’s major subjects.
Outer and Inner Space (1965, 33 min.) makes early and remarkable use of both video and split-screen projection to create a terrible sense of spiritual emptiness. In each of its paired images, “superstar” Edie Sedgwick faces the camera, beside her a video monitor showing her in profile. Often several of her four faces speak at once, and though the poor sound quality obscures much of her speech, her monologues seem trivial. Because we can’t follow her sight lines, she too seems to stare off into space, Warhol’s arguably cruel camera reducing her to multiple images of herself.
Restaurant (1965, 33 min.), an early sound film, opens with a close-up of cups and napkins, conversation audible on the sound track and a hand or a shadow moving across the frame occasionally. Later Warhol zooms out to reveal Sedgwick dining out with a group, but the camera seems to control the action while remaining an observer.
Also screening: Eat (1963, 39 min.), featuring the work of artist Robert Indiana; Kiss (1964, 58 min.), with Gerard Malanga and Baby Jane Holzer; and Four of Andy Warhol’s Most Beautiful Women (1964, 15 min.), which collects some of Warhol’s fabled “screen tests.” All films screen in the MCA Theater, 220 E. Chicago, and are free with museum admission. For more information call 312-397-4010.
Kiss, Eat, and Couch a Sat 4/8, 4 PM, and Sun 4/9, 7:30 PM
Four of Andy Warhol’s Most Beautiful Women and Outer and Inner Space a Sat 4/8, 7:30 PM
Restaurant and Kiss a Sun 4/9, 4 PM