Friday, September 17, 2010

John Smith at TBA

I didn’t know when I walked into the classroom at Washington High School (also known as “The Works”), which now functions as a gallery, that I was seeing a famous film, “the most famous film,” claims PICA’s TBA Festival by British Filmmaker John Smith. I just knew I was seeing something very familiar, eerily so. In fact it’s a entity I can only access via very limited methods, the ones most people use – just my memory.

Usually I have more. In 1969 I began writing a diary. Clothes, meals, lovers, art, books, most of it is there. But in 1976, while spending a reassessing time in Greece, I decided to throw out Book 13, which meandered meaninglessly to my eyes back then. Of course I would love to have it now, as it contains two very important years. I changed my name during that time and declared my life to be lived as an artist first. That hasn’t always been easy to hold on to.

In “The Girl Chewing Gum” by John Smith, currently part of TBA, I saw and felt not only the monochrome mess of post-war England, but also my own transition and dilemma. Funny what a series of bland, almost nondescript images can do. I had to sit down and take in every bit of it. There is no star. There’s not much of a story - it sounds initially like a fictional narrative but is really just a description of what we see.

What we see – England, 1976; I was there. That was the year I threw out the diary. I returned to the UK after my romp in Greece to work for the York Archaeological Trust. At 19 I really didn’t know WTF I was doing, just trying to reject the land of Eugene and the Excelsior - but not exactly knowing what ailed the country I embraced. It truly was depressing, grey, not very well fed. Yet I loved it. I recall making out in the pubs to “I’m Not in Love.” I still love that song. Of course we also had to listen to the Bay City Rollers. This was pre-punk and there wasn't really a name for the malaise.

The film shows the everyday, a blip in a timeline. It’s supposed to remind you what that looks like and it totally succeeded with me, functioning like a missing link I haven't been able to study.


graceface said...

What a lovely entry - and how true, imagery of what appears to be almost nothing, or certainly nothing "remarkable", can be so evocative, so harkening of a time, an era, a feeling. Love that.

Tor Hershman said...
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Jessica said...

Check itttt...
Humorous literary, nonfiction, fiction, etc. about growing up, and beginnings in general.