I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Bruce Conner’s EASTER MORNING (2008). A lot could be said about Conner’s first full retrospective at the MoMA, covering fifty years of works ranging from painting and drawing to assemblages and film, but something about this piece (positioned aptly in the last room of the sprawling exhibit) has a particular immensity to it. (Yes, even in competition with the 37 minutes of mushroom clouds in CROSSROADS (1976).) The film reworks footage from his 1966 Super 8 film EASTER MORNING RAGA, with shots flooded in various degrees of additive lens flares that alternately canonize and obscure images of plants, a nude woman, and a chair. These stop motion-esque shots are punctuated by the trancelike instrumental chant of Terry Riley’s Minimalist composition in C (1964). The humming pace of the cuts work with the sometimes blue, sometimes honey amber light to build towards something that is, in a word, transcendent.
Conner envisioned the piece as a “metaphysical quest for renewal,” and the piece acts as a triumphant closing act to a retrospective – and a life – filled with anxious questions about the power and travesty of human intervention. With his final work, Conner seems to suggest that the next step in a world filled with fear and destruction is, simply, a step out.
BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE
Through October 2
Museum of Modern Art
Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Co-curated by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Laura Hoptman, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA; Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, SFMOMA; Gary Garrels, The Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA; with Rachel Federman, Assistant Curator, Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA.
Music: “In C” by Terry Riley