3 Refreshing Documentaries
I watch a lot of documentaries and I love how easy it is to absorb information from them. But although I pick up a lot of memorable facts, and sometimes gain a better understanding of the “big picture” of life, I wouldn’t say I find inspiration in them. But three I’ve seen recently stand out for the ways they celebrate creativity and honor the human spirit.
In Trash Dance, choreographer Allison Orr accompanies Austin sanitation workers on their rounds and studies the motions they repeat each day in performing their jobs. With the workers’ input, she stages a performance built around them. The workers’ personalities shine before the camera and it is a joy to watch their performance. We have square dancing horses here in Texas at rodeos, but Allison Orr came up with dancing garbage trucks!
In 1978, a society photographer for the New York Times published his candid pictures of fashions he spotted on the streets of New York, and a new feature was born. Now 86 years old, Bill Cunningham still takes photos on the streets every day with the goal of celebrating individual expression. Bill Cunningham New York follows this energetic and gracious man through his work process. And if you don’t have time for the whole movie, you can watch 2 minute slideshows of Bill’s recent shots here at the New York Times.
40 Under 40 is a behind-the-scenes look at an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian. For the Gallery’s 40th anniversary in 2012, the work of forty craftspeople under 40 was chosen. You can see the pieces in the exhibit here.
Of course we would all choose different pieces if we were putting on an exhibit, and I certainly didn’t agree with all the choices made here, but I loved watching the selection process and hearing the museum staff explain their thinking. Several of the artists guide tours of their work spaces and explain their process. It’s fascinating to see how the works are installed and how difficulties are resolved before the opening.
I especially loved the work of Sabrina Gschwandtner, who makes quilt tops out of old 16 mm textile film strips that were being thrown away by the Fashion Institute of Technology. (I really wish I could have watched those film strips too.)
And I loved One, a giant two-part paper installation by Mia Pearlman, that reminded me of waterfalls and clouds. (The link will take you to an interactive panorama of the piece, as well as detail shots.)
The only negative for me was that the film shows several intriguing shots of a working spinning wheel made of glass! but it is never covered in depth. 😦 Well, I guess a good show always leaves you wanting more!
If you need a creative jumpstart or a mood lift sometime, I recommend these!
Trash Dance sounds fascinating! It’s now on my List. The husband loves Bill Cunningham’s pieces – I had no idea it had such a long history.
You will LOVE Trash Dance!
And Bill Cunningham is such a fascinating person. Up until just recently (when they were making the video), he lived in a one-room apartment in Carnegie Hall, full of files cabinets of his photos and not much else. He covers fashion, but he wears just simple French workman jackets he gets for like $20. All his NYT spreads were shot on his own time! His real job was covering society events at night. (He may have retired from that, I’m not sure.) Anyway, to me it was a very powerful piece that shows what one simple person can accomplish if they just keep plugging away at what they love.
Another Great Post shared by you. The link for the Exhibit say web page not available when clicked on. Blessings Always, Mtetar
I checked it and it is working for me. Maybe your browser is an old version? I don’t know enough about computers to help! But here is the link so you can try copy and paste in your browser address bar and see if that works. Hope that works! Thanks for letting me know!
You are welcome and thank you as well. Be Blessed, Mtetar
I’ve just put the Bill Cunningham piece on hold at my library. I just love his NYT features – so playfully captured and elegantly laid out. And sometimes you can hear his commentary – what a great NY accent. I’m looking at the 40 under 40 exhibit photos, and have decided I must have the Enlightenment Room. Many thanks for bringing these wonderful examples of human creativity to my attention.
Okay, you get the Enlightenment Room and I’ll get the paper installation!
I am so glad that technology has gotten to the point where we can search out programs we want to watch, instead of just having to put up with whatever is being broadcast. I love these quirky little films.
Fun fun stuff, LOVE NYC cold weather fashions! Exhibit wouldn’t play for me either, will try another way……..
I see one image at a time with small thumbnails underneath, and you have to click on an arrow to see a new group of thumbnails, and then click on whichever image you want to see it larger.
Actually, I just googled Mia and got all the pictures. YOUSA. I think I’d want to view it in person WITH a friend 🙂
I am really curious to know what happens to her art after the installation. It doesn’t seem like she could keep the individual pieces and ever remount them the same way. I wonder if the ephemerality (is that a word?) is what she is after.
Now who would have thought “Trash Dance”…and I did like 40 under 40, especially “Crocheted Olek’s Crocheted Apartment”. Art is truly in the eye of the beholder!!
Yes, that Olek is a little intense, isn’t she? But that crocheted apartment is fun to look at, and I liked when she covered the Einstein sculpture in crochet at the end. What an imagination!
Bill Cunningham New york is one of my favorite movies…ever!
I am going to have to watch it again – he made this one short statement about how most of us follow along with what we’re told to wear, but a few people use fashion as an expression of individuality. I need to get the exact words and make myself a sign for my studio!
Yes! Can you please let me know what it is so I can quote it? xo
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