Sunday, January 28, 2007

sleepwalkers

If you're in the New York area anytime between now and February 12th, I'd suggest taking in the Doug Aitken sleepwalkers exhibit @ MoMA. It's a free outdoors exhibit and, more importantly, it's good. I was rather hypnotized by the multiple screen parallels of various people silently waking, performing their morning rituals, going through a standard work day, and finally finding release in music, albeit still silently. It's got great energy, sly wit, and it's beautifully filmed and edited. My friends and I watched it from both major viewing areas for slightly different experiences and textures: seeing the different building facades of brick or glass underneath the images proved an unexpected highlight for me.


The cast of Sleepwalkers (each one gets their own screen) was a big draw. The enduring Donald Sutherland, beautiful musicians Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Seu Jorge (cineastes will remember him from The Life Aquatic), and Ryan Donowho. I saved the best for last: the fifth costar is art fiend/iconoclast muse/movie star Tilda Swinton.

True story: We started watching the exhibit on the West side in an open lot where you can see one screen beautifully while another draws peripheral attentions. After about 20 minutes we decided to move into the MoMA Garden where you can see all the screens. About five minutes after picking a spot to gaze around I was looking up to my right at one screen when my friend leans in and says to me "look to your left" I turn and there so close I could have touched her by taking just one step forward was Tilda Swinton herself, chatting gaily with a small entourage of friends, one of whom I believe was her husband.

Tilda Swinton at her own exhibit!

Imagine sitting next to her in your local arthouse watching a Derek Jarman film. Imagine waiting in a concession line for your popcorn for The Chronicles of Narnia and seeing her with her own tub of popcorn. Bizarre. She was practically standing next to me and I was so entranced by the movie (hey, I'm me) that my friend had to point her out to me. I should mention that just above her, off in the distance was an enormous image of her gazing enigmatically at the camera. The real and the reel both in my line of view. This wasn't sleepwalking. It felt more like a dream.

5 comments:

amir_uk said...

Love the article, Nathaniel. I really got that dream-like state you were conveying.

I have a question for you which is totally unrelated to the piece. So I apologise in advance. But it's been bugging me as I've gone a little bit Kate crazy of late. Which performance of Kate's (Winslet that is) did you think also should've merited an Oscar nom - is it Heavenly Creatures or Holy Smoke? I know you've mentioned it before. I get the two confused (you know both begin it 'H,' both by Antipodean directors and all that), but want to check them out anyhow. . .

NATHANIEL R said...

I would have handed her the Oscar without a moment's hesitation for Holy Smoke! I think it's her best performance bar none.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Did you say anything to The Tilda?

NATHANIEL R said...

I did not. Too intimidating. Plus she was with a big crowd of friends. Plus I get shy with celebrities.

She was wearing an odd coat. Lavenderish and just like everything other bulky winter coat except the arms were like poodles: all puffy but then cinched tight to the arm and then puffy again and the cinched tight. very strange. but you know, fashion forward. It was Tilda after all.

jim said...

Don't feel bad about not talking to La Tilda at MoMA. I saw Isabella Rossellini, whom I adore, in the audience and in the lobby at a recent MoMA screening of one of her dad's films. Although she was very casual and seemingly approachable, I was too much in awe and didn't dare intrude upon her private space.