One of the first art theory concepts I was exposed to was:
Life is art. This caused me to seek out the company of eccentrics,
when I should have been networking The Art World. In the course
of this journey, I came to appreciate the hermetic worlds that can
surround a really good eccentric.
My first exposure to Crispin Hellion Glover was when he appeared
on the David Letterman show (back when Letterman was still edgy).
He managed, with a well-placed platform shoe, to wipe the smirk off
of Letterman’s face. Seeing the fear on that face convinced me that
Glover was genuine, someone to watch.
He had sort of fallen off of my radar when I learned he had released
an unclassifiable record. The Big Problem soon became a favorite and
remains in my top ten to this day. A friend showed me a handmade
book that Glover had presented at LACE. It consisted of color Xerox
pages in plastic sheet protectors held together with three metal rings.
As I turned the pages of Rat Catching, I realized that one of the cuts on
the The Big Problem had been his interpretation of an altered book
from a previous century. When more of these books appeared, now
professionally bound, I was officially a convert.
Glover’s latest offering is billed as a slide show and a film that I
caught at the Cinematheque. The sum of its parts (when you throw
in the post screening Q&A) is a transcendent multi-media experience.
The evening begins with Glover on an elevated platform in front of a
screen, onto which his books are projected. He reads them to us in the
manner of an overwrought 19th century actor. It is as if we are in
Deadwood watching a magic lantern show. Then comes the film, starring
a cast of actors with Downs Syndrome. Throughout the film which includes
salted snails, naked women with animal heads on an opera worthy set,
assault with a shovel in a graveyard and an actor with Cerebral Palsy
being pleasured in a giant oyster shell — the only thing that is played
for shock value is the image of Shirley Temple. As I adjusted to the
Downs rhythms of speech and pace, I began to sense an otherness that
the stills of Matthew Barney films can only promise. In the Q&A which
followed, Glover offered to address any questions that the film might
have raised. As the audience began to ask about the various shapes on
the Rorschach test they had just seen, I came to really appreciate how
well the evening had been conceived as a whole.
Crispin Glover will be touring a new film this winter and recreating
the “slide show and film.” Bring a performance art mindset. That will
give you a better context in which to enjoy this, and a better excuse
for leaving the bunker.