Material Excess | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Material Excess


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Dante meets American consumer culture in Gregg Biermann's startling digital video update of The Divine Comedy. The longest of its three sections, "Inferno," is a filmstriplike series of images made out of junk mail. A Victoria's Secret catalog stands in for those damned for lust, while other associations--Rite Aid ads that represent thieves--are less obvious. The text and images flicker fleetingly by; the excess flirts with a tedium that sets up the concluding sections, "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso," in which the flatness of the ads gives way to scans of actual objects uncorrupted by accompanying text. The rounded edges of matchsticks and LifeSavers interject a measure of spatial depth; the bright colors and the suppleness of the shapes propose a profane, perhaps half-ironic vision of redemption through visual pleasure. Biermann will attend the screening. 122 min. Chicago Filmmakers.

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