Light Industry is proud to present the world premiere of Circumstantial Pleasures, a new cycle of films by Lewis Klahr.
Shaped by soundtracks ranging from girl-group bops to post-punk noise, Klahr’s cut-out animations conjure narratives that are at once cryptically articulated and forcefully emotional. These collage films, scholar Tom Gunning observes, “have always mimed the processes of memory by pulling together the discards of contemporary life (images from ads, textbooks, or comic books, objects such as game pieces, menus, playing cards) into scenarios that seem like some Hollywood film dimly remembered.”
For Klahr, such effects have long been achieved by manipulating elements that evoke a mid-century America of atom bombs and miniskirts, Superman and Sinatra—J. Hoberman coined the phrase “Populuxe surrealism” to locate the counter-nostalgic vibrations of Klahr’s early Super-8 serial Tales of the Forgotten Future (1988-1991). With Circumstantial Pleasures, however, Klahr engages with a markedly different set of emblems, drawing upon the iconography of 21st-century politics and entertainment, as well as music by David Rosenboom, Tom Recchion, and Scott Walker. “In my 20s,” Klahr explains, “as collage emerged as my primary form of expression, my use of outmoded source materials in my films to explore the pastness of the present was always front and center. Occasionally, throughout the decades—Yesterday’s Glue (1990) or my first digital work Antigenic Drift (2007)—I would use current images to describe the present day. But I always knew, at some point, I would create a feature-length series of films that used only contemporary images to explore the current zeitgeist.”
While a dark psychological undercurrent can be found elsewhere in Klahr’s filmography—consider the transgressive erotics of Pony Glass (1997), or the bad-trip ego-death of Govinda (1999)—the moods of Circumstantial Pleasures feel more acutely in sync with our moment’s collective unease. Here the figures manifest across a field of crumpled polypropylene bags, emptied transparent blister-packs, and Juul paraphernalia, punctuated at times with stroboscopic patterning. Klahr deploys the harsh shadows and unforgiving detail of high-definition video in service of the film’s ominous atmospheres, accentuating the indentations of an RFID tag, or the fragile fluttering of paper scraps. A striking elaboration on a signature style, with “story” all but evacuated, Circumstantial Pleasure’s six episodes proceed less like an album of potent recollections and more like a stream of agitated consciousness.
- Capitalist Roaders (2016, 18 mins)
- Ramification Lesions (Microbial Stress) (2019, 7 mins)
- Ratchet the Margin (2016, 7 mins)
- Virulent Capital (2018, 9 mins)
- High Rise (2016, 2 mins)
- Circumstantial Pleasures (2019, 22 mins)
Followed by a conversation with Klahr and Tom Gunning.
Tickets - $8, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.