George Kuchar's video diaries
Nature All Over the Damn Place
Screening with introduction by Uli Ziemons
Duration: 87 minutes, all videos in English
Starting from George Kuchar's video 500 Millibars to Ecstasy (1989) a video program by Uli Ziemons (Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art) delves into Kuchar's exploration of the American landscape. Both natural and interpersonal disasters take center stage in this selection of travel, diary and holiday videos.
A video program with 500 Millibars to Ecstasy (1989), Big Ones Hurt (1992), Rocky Interlude (1990), Gastronomic Getaway (1991) and Oasis of the Pharaohs (1997).
George Kuchar, one of the most prolific exponents of the American Underground Cinema, produced an œuvre of more than 250 videos from 1985 until his untimely death in 2011. Kuchar became known alongside his brother Mike as the Avant-garde class clown and pioneer of Camp Cinema in the 60's, shooting shrill 8mm adaptations of Hollywood B-movies with his schoolmates in his parent's apartment. In the 80's he started working in video and began a series of diary videos documenting his life in San Francisco, artist and filmmaker friends, his pets, family gatherings and, above all, his travels and vacations. Especially his yearly trips to Oklahoma and the Weather Diaries, which he produced there, earned him a faithful audience. These diaries, which were exhibited as part of the Berlin Biennial in 2010, deal with Kuchar's fascination for violent weather and try to hotwire the turbulent phenomena in the sky with the physical and psychological tribulations of their protagonist.
Taking 500 Millibars to Ecstasy, an addendum to the Weather Diary series, as its starting point, this program of lesser known titles shows examples of Kuchar's engagement with the American nature and landscape as well as with the home movie format. Again, the interrelation between the sublime beauty of nature and the banalities of everyday life are examined. By virtue of Kuchar's Hollywood-infested gaze, his holiday and family videos become humorous disaster movies of epic proportions. Earthquakes, eating disorders, electrical mice, Egyptian gods, mummies, the majestic vistas of the Rocky Mountains, dead snakes, and phallic tornadoes are the stuff these low-budget dreams are made of.
Uli Ziemons is a member of the curatorial team of Forum Expanded/Berlinale.