James Schneider keeps apologizing for including his new film in a series he’s curating for “Options 1997,” the WPA/Corcoran show on view at
projectspace, site of the old Insect Club. Such compunction seems misplaced: His Blue Is Beautiful, about the Make-Up, was sort of commissioned by initial “Options” curator Ceridwen Morris. “I loved what he’d already filmed, and I got grant money for this show, so I gave him some to finish it. Then I asked him did he want to curate this three-night film series,” explains Morris, who selected the artists before she decamped to Hollywood early this year.
Schneider is hardly hogging the spotlight. On June 12, he presents “a brief history of protest and rebellion in D.C.,” from 1968-91, including military archival footage of the ’68 riots and a Gulf War protest concert by Fugazi in front of the White House. On June 19, he spotlights the videos of George Kuchar and a new film by Baltimore extremist Catherine Pancake. Schneider’s half-hour study of the gospel yelp-yelpers on tour shares the June 26 bill with new work by local super-8 filmmaker Martha Colburn. “Hardly any of this stuff has been screened in D.C.,” says Schneider.
The standout is the poetically perverse Kuchar, who has been swapping work with Schneider for the past year or so. The fiftyish former B-movie maker has made 12 to 18 personal videos every year since 1985. They’re dense, complex, very funny half-hours that marry B-movie conventions and computer graphics, vérité immediacy and edited layers of emotional subtlety. Subjects of the five videos screened in Schneider’s series include several cats and a dog, Ed Wood, and a solitary week between film festivals spent in an Oklahoma motel.
In the latter piece, Weather Diary 3, Kuchar free-associates as he watches TV, ogles some teenagers, looks at clouds, takes a piss, befriends a neighbor, and cooks hot dogs to the yapping of Chihuahuas (“creatures of heat…soothe the beasts with water… 100-percent beef unleashed”). As action-unpacked as can be, the piece transcends the mundane simply by paying attention, and becomes a meditation on loneliness
and connection, boredom and lust, travel and home. Were Virginia Woolf reincarnated as a horny middle-aged shlub, then stuffed with diner food and trash culture, she might make videos like these.Virginia Vitzthum
Screenings are Thursdays at 9 p.m. at projectspace, 625 E St. NW. $3. (202) 639-1714.