Today I stood at the site where artist Robert Smithson died in a plane crash, July 20, 1973. From the air, he was surveying the site for what was to be his last sculpture, “Amarillo Ramp.” I was with Jon Everett, Matt Williams and Chip Lord. We were there to visit and celebrate Ant Farm’s iconic roadside attraction, “Cadillac Ranch,” created one year after the tragic plane crash. Looking back and forth between Smithson’s dirt spiral and the small crater left from the crash (about 30 meters apart) I was struck by a deep, and perhaps obvious, sense of irony. Feeling an awkwardness in the moment, I instinctively took a photograph and then immediately erased it into my memory. That evening I was introduced to Dr. Jessica Mallard (Dean of the College of Fine Art and Humanities at West Texas A&M University) who hugged me in a way that clearly said “I know.”
Let us pause and play.
December 23, 2014, Middlefield, Connecticut (10:00)
Yesterday British singer Joe Cocker died. When I heard about his passing on the radio I felt a profound sense of loss. I had never met him - but in a way, I had. In 1976 I enrolled in a film history course taught by George Morris at the University of Bridgeport. George was also a film critic for the Village Voice. In the class we watched the 1970 film “Woodstock.” Through the years, the particular scene from that movie which has stayed with me is Joe Cocker’s passionate and soulful performance. When I watched him sing “I get by with a little help from my friends,” I remember feeling my body shiver with the intensity of his delivery. Moments after Cocker left that stage in 1969, the heavens also shivered and released a thunderstorm that closed the event for several hours. Today, still finding in myself the capacity to shiver, those song lyrics are more meaningful to me than ever.
Let us pause and play.
August 2, 2014, Albuquerque, New Mexico (17:00)
Today I shopped for a birthday gift for my dear spouse, Patti. It was a special occasion and I shivered for different reasons. I thought about our trip to Germany the previous year; it was a magical experience. Three days ago filmmaker Harun Farocki died. In 2005 I had the honor of having my films screened alongside Farocki’s in Tübingen, Germany. The program was titled “Ein Zentrum in der Peripherie.” I remember being met at the Tübingen train station by curators Betina Panek and Brigitte Braun. As we walked through the medieval, cobblestoned town, a pedestrian stopped us suddenly and exclaimed “Sie müssen sich Bryan Konefsky!” I am only beginning to recognize and celebrate those unexpected and very special moments (and people) that have touched my life.
A sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported Experiments in Cinema these past 10 years.