Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I recently vacationed in New York, and visited P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center's Kenneth Anger exhibition. The installation, located in the second floor Kunsthalle, focuses entirely on eight of the nine films in the maestro's Magick Lantern Cycle (1947-1980). A conscientious effort has been made to recreate the atmosphere of Anger's films, so that visitors will feel they have indeed entered the director's Pleasure Dome. Fireworks (1947), Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1963), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), and Lucifer Rising (1980) cast their spells on large video screens, while Puce Moment (1949), Eaux d'Artifice (1953), and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965) are disappointingly relegated to much smaller monitors, impairing the overall impact. (Fireworks and Inauguration unreel in separate, curtained rooms.) The biggest letdown, however, is the glaring omission of Rabbit's Moon (1950), either in its original or condensed form. The films' scores occasionally overlap, but fortunately this is a minor distraction. P.S.1's exhibition employs red and silver vinyl partitions, as well as coverings for walls and floor, and appropriately ritualistic lighting. Well-worn copies of the Hollywood Babylon books, as well as Alice Hutchison's 2004 Anger monograph and Jack Hunter's 2002 essay collection on the filmmaker, Moonchild, are available for perusal. All prints are apparently drawn from Fantoma's recent two-disc restorations. The installation, which began February 22nd of this year and ends September 14th, 2009, is organized by Susanne Pfeffer.