By Robert del Valle
The fact that it coincides with a papal conclave may or may not give Purgatory III a quirky kind of relevance, but the title of this two-night exhibit at the Tangent Gallery does in fact reference matters that touch upon the psychological, philosophical and even theological issues that concern us today. This is a celebration of the visual with cinematic works that are intentionally introspective and beguiling – all of them created by a roster of local, national and international filmmakers. Like its creative “sibling” DAMNED, it should not be misconstrued or misinterpreted as a horror show. This is actually a collective summation of a shared emotion – the deeply personal views of talented men and women who have actually experienced or witnessed dark nights of the soul either in the course of their lives or in the theater of their subconscious. Among the contributing artists: Brian Viveros, Eriijk Ressler, Jose Luis Saturno, Robert Morgan, David Scharf, Till Nowak and Joaquin Baldwin.
Between Heaven and Hell
By Robert del Valle
Audiences and critics alike (the majority of them anyway) have hitherto regarded Purgatory as simply a complementary adjunct to the DAMNED show with celluloid rather than paint supplying the visuals. However, if the forthcoming second installment is as intriguing as preliminary glimpses make it out to be, that opinion will definitely have to be revised by one and all. On 3/30-31, Hastings Street/Tangent Gallery will screen a roster of compelling short works that focus on the visceral and emotional duality of the human condition. This is NOT a cinematic gore-fest, ladies and gentlemen, nor is it a tease/titillation marathon of midnight movies. These works are disturbing, introspective and beautiful, with an undercurrent that runs fixedly between the more familiar shores of Thanatos and Eros. Among the films that will be shown: Southern, a collaboration between Brian Viveros and Erijk Ressler that is nothing less than 50 minutes of near-hallucinogenic passion; Polish director Tomek Baginski’s ironic tale The Kinematograph; Delivery, a clarion call for redemption by Till Novak; Bogdan Borkowski’s Le Poeme, which integrates Rimbaud’s verse with the process of an autopsy (note: many will recall this film from Corpus Illuminata at District VII); and Rakthavira, Voltaire’s brief descent into a Hindu inferno with narration spoken by rock chanteuse Deborah Harry. The most recommended event of the week.
Go To Hell At Hastings Street
Or Just Prepare Visually For What May Come
By Robert del Valle
Purgatory is liturgically described as a sort of waiting room for the hereafter — a steam bath where our carnal sins are melted away before we get to heaven.
To those artists participating in Purgatory Film Exhibition, however, the heat is welcomed for reasons other than the redemptive ones. A three-day Cinema and Theatre of the Damned scheduled for the Hastings Street Ballroom, this expansive show is a profoundly introspective examination of our cyclical natures — our innate passion for passion itself, regardless of what it costs in terms of pain or remorse. It is also a reminder that the soul may find salvation within the parameters of art itself — a skeleton key to open the locked self and release a cathartic scream.
And let us please clarify a few matters or answer an anticipated query or two. This is not Dirty Show (Spring Edition) and it should not be identified too closely with the complementing DAMNED exhibit we get on Devil’s Night. It is also most emphatically not a horror film fest. The features that will be screened comprise “a tributary showcase” of locally- and internationally-made movies that are highly personal and (presumably) autobiographical. The imagery will be visceral in many cases, but all of it will be aimed at a much deeper level of reception than the one visited solely by those familiar and entertaining jolts of adrenaline. The celluloid menu will be enhanced considerably by experimental works by such live performers as Satori Circus, Xaina and others. A gallery cross-media installation by Detronik Surveillance and Studio X is also planned.
Speaking of those “entrees,” take a look at the chefs: The Brothers Quay, Brian M. Viveros, Voltaire, George Higham, Till Novak, Daniel Askill, Tomek Baginski, Robert Morris, Jeff Bloomer, Robert Morgan, Daniel Zurawski, Bogdan Borkowski, Mike Dereniewski, Robert Joseph Butler, Patrick Rea and … the Soviet Film Agency (?). We asked curator DVS a few questions:
What are we getting with this show?
Purgatory is first and foremost a film exhibition with works created by filmmakers local, national and international. Works that are highly diverse in terms of style, but all sharing such descriptive features as being beautifully disturbing and enlightening. In short, these are the films that filmmakers often “need” to create in order to move forward in life, and offer a diverse view of the whole human experience.
Why the medium of film this time?
At the DAMNED exhibition on Devil’s Night in October, we showcase a vast selection of powerful and personal art that is often created during an artist’s “darker” moments. However, because of that exhibition’s structure, we were never able to honor that same purpose with works that were wholly cinematic. So, a sister event was created (near) halfway to Devil’s Night to exhibit select short films of these same DAMNED themes.
These works will invariably touch upon matters of eros. Where has all the genuine eroticism gone? From art, from pop culture, from life itself?
Eroticism left? And without saying “goodbye?” Perhaps it is a shifting of communal consciousness towards the need for something more personally substantial? If you are spiritually open in nature, you may already be aware of the global and temporal shift towards all-encompassing oneness. If you are not, it may be a simple need for something more in life. Eroticism is a wonderful exploration for some but for others, it is not the whole journey.
What excites you most about this particular show?
What excites me first is the vast array of amazing talent we have gathered from the Brothers Quay, Voltaire and Brian Viveros to Oscar nominees and Sundance selections to talented Michigan filmmakers. What excites me secondly is that I feel viewers will be quite surprised at the contents of the exhibition. I have already experienced preconceived expectations from eager patrons expecting simply shocking and disturbing subject matters. However, with the much grander scope, I hope they leave Purgatory with a greater sense of their own being with thoughts towards their own existence in life.