Just got word from Leah Churner, a moving-pictures critic and curator who recently co-programmed the “Panorama of Public Access Television in New York” at the Museum of the Moving Image (with Nic Rapold), as well as series at Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry. Leah has now added another venue to her experimental exhibition empire: Chelsea’s brand new Churner & Churner Gallery (at 205 10th Ave, between 22nd and 23rd Street).
As you may have guessed by the name this is a family affair, valiantly pioneered by Leah’s sister Rachel. You can read more about the gallery’s philosophy and impending exhibitions on their site. In the interims between shows, Leah will be organizing special screenings and events, starting with an exciting (and free!) Kuchar brothers double-bill at 7 this Friday: The Secret of Wendel Samson (1966, Mike Kuchar) and Encyclopedia Of The Blessed (1967-69, George Kuchar). These 16mm rarities are hard to come by and not to be missed.
Leah muses on the Kuchars in a thorough career overview for Reverse Shot:
By way of introduction, Mike and George are responsible for underground classics I Was a Teenage Rumpot (1960), Born of the Wind (1962), and Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966). If famous at all, they are known for articulating the aesthetic that Paul Morrissey and John Waters would later call Trash. The defining characteristic of their work, the ironic spectacle, is a juxtaposition between the ambition of the filmmaker and the limitations of his budget and at the same time, the glaring disconnect between the transcendence of cinema and the banal shame of everyday living. Their work is both idealistic and incriminatingly autobiographical.
Attempting to launch a formal analysis on this work is like trying to dissect a rubber chicken—entirely irrelevant. Their permanent point of departure is the home movie. Mike and George don’t consider themselves auteurs, even if Jonas Mekas labeled them as avant-garde wonders in their youth. Because they are their own target audience, they’ve yoked themselves to cheap and dirty formats for a lifetime. They’re lackadaisical about money, and have never tried to break into the commercial sphere. When structuralism was popular in the Sixties, they presented toilet humor. Now, with fifty years under the bridge, they are regarded as camp pioneers. This is the benefit of hindsight. Today Mike and George are sexagenarians, and they still don’t give a damn about anybody’s attention span or digital dilemma or aesthetic preference. All they want to do is live their lives on crappy video in real-time. It may not resonate now, but who knows, something grand and invisible might be afoot.
[Top image from THE SECRET OF WENDEL SAMSON; below image from ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BLESSED]