The Collective /SHARE
Curator Michael Connor chats to RUSSH about his latest collaboration with iconic eyewear brand, Persol, celebrating the magnificence of obsession at the Museum of Moving Image in New York City.
Persol Magnificent Obsession was launched last year, what prompted you to collaborate with the iconic brand?
Persol approached me with the idea of doing an exhibition about obsessive craftsmanship in cinema. Inspired by the thirty steps it takes to produce a pair of Persol eyewear, the exhibition would profile thirty filmmakers and their passionate, meticulous work. I was impressed by the unique idea, by the lovely people involved and by their obvious commitment to producing a stellar, museum-quality exhibition.
This exhibition celebrates craftsmanship in film. Who are the craftsmen/women you admire and what inspires you about their work?
The people in the exhibition are all inspiring to me. I'm inspired by the sheer passion that Ed Harris brought to Pollock, which really comes across in the exhibition materials - including his own paintings and pages from his diary. I'm inspired by Douglas Trumbull, the legendary special effects guru, who has converted a barn on his farm into a working film studio where he is experimenting with ideas that will shape the future of cinema. I'm also inspired by Arianne Phillips' costumes for W.E.. They're based on incredibly detailed research - Arianne travelled to vintage haute couture collections around the world in preparation for the film - and they're also produced with painstaking care.
This exhibition offers the viewer an insight into the many aspects of making a film, and the dedicated and talented people behind them. What do you think are the key elements that make a great film?
I don't think there is a formula for a great film. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and James Benning's California Trilogy are both great films, but they have very little in common: one is a drama about UFOs, the other is four and a half hours of landscape imagery. Cinema encompasses nearly all other crafts and art forms - fashion, architecture, music, writing, performance - and so many different things can make a film great, in whole or in part.
Do you think the creation of a cinematic masterpiece, or any masterpiece, necessarily requires an obsessive approach?
The film industry can be like a kind of impersonal machine, involving many, many people. Obsession, though, is personal. This exhibition is an opportunity to think about how an individual artist can make their mark, or bring a particular vision to life, within this system.
The masterpiece is always the result of a team effort. When we talk about masterpieces, we are no longer talking about the individual obsession, but the synthesis of multiple visions. It's a different conversation.
What are some of your personal obsessions?
Apart from this exhibition? I love Michael Haneke's films and I'm dying to see his new film, but it doesn't come out in New York until December. I've also been thinking about David Cronenberg a lot lately, as well as the Greek filmmakers Athina Rachel Tsangari and Giorgos Lanthimos.
Outside of cinema...
Foraging and gardening. Ubuweb. And Joel Tudor.