Saturday, July 19, 2008

Peter Hutton at MoMA | Tisch Film Review

Peter Hutton at MoMA | Tisch Film Review

Budapest Portrait: Peter Hutton’s thirty-minute collection of images that makes 1980s Hungary seem like a slide-show of glimpses. An enormous swimming pool filled with languid bodies, a set of framed photographs of anonymous faces, a woman preparing food inside an apartment; Hutton’s images reveal a curiosity about a variety spaces, an interest in separating, organizing, dividing them into discrete visual experiences (a black screen periodically indexes what we see throughout the film, acting as a brief flashes for rumination or recollection).

Here, coupled with another of Hutton’s city portraits, Lodz Symphony (created between 1991 and 1993), buildings facades become cinematic Harry Callahan photographs; other images, less insistent in their symmetry, cite Eugène Atget or Eva Besnyö. Comparisons to the city symphony films of Dziga Vertov and Walter Ruttman are incompatible, for Hutton is less interested in the capacity of the city to produce the shocks and pleasures of modern experience than his predecessors. These cities are too muted, too stable, too unassuming to permit the kind of spectatorial grandeur of Vertov and Ruttman. They function, instead, as portraits of places no longer capable of alerting the senses, of shaking things up. In this way, they continue from where Vertov left off.


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