September 16, 2004

"angel organ"


acrylic on magazine paper, pencil and ink in digital environment

"It was one of the darker tunnels in Canada."

This vexing gem of an insight is a toss-away line proffered in Tom McCarthy's 2003 film, The Station Agent. Starring Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale, the film is a measured jewel that I happened to run across this week.

Never a "spoiler," I did have one idiosyncratic reaction to the film (to which, my girlfriend was quick to quip, "Only a painter..."): Through much of the movie, I kept getting flashes of Giacometti, not so much the look of his sculptures, but the psychic feel they engender - the loneliness. (For those who've seen it, or will soon, I acknowledge the unintended irony in conflating the main character with the work of Giacometti).

Traditional readings of Giacometti's signature sculptures see his figures existing in a state of isolation, anxiety and unbridgeable individuation. Thus, it is fitting and ironic that Giacometti's work has an increasing power to lure people together. Throughout the 2001 MOMA Retrospective, his sculptures were often surrounded by standing room only crowds - people, ostensibly, gathered to collectively contemplate loneliness.

I've noticed the same dynamic drawing crowds at many recent films (The Hours, Igby Goes Down, Rushmore, Lost In Translation, Punch Drunk Love to name only a few). It would seem within our singularity resides our commonality. The Station Agent arrives at a similar conclusion, adding fraternal flesh to Giacometti's talismanic masterpieces.

Posted by mark at September 16, 2004 03:40 PM