Two Wrenching Departures | Chicago Reader

Two Wrenching Departures

For some years Ken Jacobs has been making DVDs based on material used in some of his “nervous system performances”—two-projector pieces that create frozen moments and depth effects. This one began as a 1989 performance occasioned by the deaths of filmmakers Jack Smith and Bob Fleishner, and much of the footage shows Smith in flamboyant drag cavorting on Manhattan streets, with some of the soundtrack and a few images from Sam Wood's 1933 film The Barbarian. Jacobs uses a two-steps-forward, one-step-back rhythm to slow down time, freezing instants and producing brief but stunning space-distorting effects. The viewer's perception is energized in this moving reminder that imagery can freeze, but never reverse, time. 90 min.

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