Plot Summary for
Week End (1967)
A supposedly idyllic weekend trip to the countryside turns into a never-ending nightmare of traffic jams, revolution, cannibalism and murder as French bourgeois society starts to collapse under the weight of its own consumer preoccupations Written by Michael Brooke
SOLAR BREATH, SNOW
Snow in Performance
part 1 of 3 video clips from a performance in Victoria, BC 2009 during Jazzfest
Artist of the week 20: Michael Snow
From sine waves to rustling curtains, Jessica Lack admires the economical, humorous and frequently strange work of the great experimental film-maker Michael Snow
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 December 2008 11.29 GMT
Something strange: Michael Snow’s Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids) (2002)
When Michael Snow made the great experimental film Wavelength in 1967, he never expected such visceral reactions from his audience. In the loosest terms, the work is a study in time and space through the techniques of film-making. For 45 minutes a camera slowly eases from wide angle to close-up while a continuous sine wave plays out. Over the years the film has caused riots, mass walkouts and fury. It has been laughed out of the cinema and lauded as a minimalist masterpiece, yet Snow seems relatively unfazed. In fact he decided to title his new exhibition Yes Snow Show for that very reason. “The curator asked me if I could suggest a title for the exhibition and it became Yes Snow Show,” he says. “I like it because it contains the possible extreme reactions, positive and negative, to my work. Perhaps it’ll encourage discussion.”
Born in Toronto in 1929, Snow studied at the Ontario College of Art before moving to New York, where he became a key player in the minimalist art scene, collaborating on videos with Richard Serra. He was one of the participants in Steve Reich’s piece Pendulum Music when it was first performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969. Early films ranged from his free-jazz homage New York Ear and Eye Control to the infamous Wavelength.
Thanks in part to the economical structure of Snow’s films, the artist’s humour often gets overlooked. In the early 1970s he made the Dada-inspired Breakfast (Table Top Dolly) a comic parody of Wavelength in which the camera destroyed the contents of a cluttered tabletop by tracking forward. Ultimately, he should be most celebrated for La Région Centrale, a five-day shoot up a mountain in north Quebec in which Snow explored the cosmic relationship of time and space. Of his work he simply says: “I’ve just been making works that I’d like to see, hoping that others might find them interesting too. I guess that if someone’s experience has been mainly narrative film, my films and videos are different enough that some of them might ‘unnerve’ someone.”
Why we like him: Most recently for Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids), set in the artist’s summer log cabin, which he built in 1970 in a remote part of the Maritimes. Occasionally, something strange takes place at one of the windows: the wind blows the curtain but also sucks it back, making it form beautiful folded patterns that hold still for surprising durations. He tried to shoot this several times with unusable results, and was finally able to digitally capture a fine one-hour performance in 2002.
Friends in low places: As a struggling artist in New York in the 1960s he worked for Low Rate Movers, the sculptor Richard Serra’s small-time moving company, which also employed the composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, the painter Chuck Close and the late actor-writer Spalding Grey.
Did you know? He is a frustrated archaeologist.