FILMS BY LEANDRO KATZ
 
 
 
CROWD 7X7

14 min, black and white, silent (l974, released 1976)

A large gathering of people is examined in seven different optical treatments.

 
  "An overhead camera pans ever so slightly and within a severely restricted range above a large gathering crowd in Quito, eagerly awaiting the unveiling of an image of Christ because of a rumor that its face had been redone to resemble Che Guevara. The occasion of the gathering is not specified within the film. The subject of the crowd itself --an impersonal mass being observed via a seemingly omniscient camera-- leads the spectator to think about his or her relation to the crowd being observed."

Tony Pipolo, Millennium Film Journal, © December 1980

 
     
 
 
LOS ANGELES STATION

l0 min, 16mm, color, silent (l970, released 1976))

Portrait of a small community living by the railroad tracks in the banana plantation region of Quiriguá, Guatemala. Originally a single take, this film is composed of alternating equal number of moving frames and frozen frames as the camera tracks alongside the train station.

 
  "Los Angeles Station is Leandro Katz's simplest, most direct and probably least ambitious film and yet in many ways it is his loveliest. The results of the systematically structured material is unexpectedly stirring. Because of the impersonal method of construction, the freeze frames are not the result of sudden sentimental tugs. The count sometimes falls very conveniently on an image of natural poses, strikingly set against the backdrop; but just as often, the freeze frame is of a bare wall or an alleyway. The mechanical tension between the handheld camera's panning and the systematic stops creates disarmingly simple, evocative effects. The freeze may halt a pan or simply congeal an already held moment. In the first case, an image often ends up de-centered, highlighting the broadside of the shack-like dwellings with their inhabitants crowded at the edge. Or, alternatively, a smiling boy, full of animate life and sensuousness, suddenly becomes an anthropological document, frozen evidence of a time, a place, and a culture."

Tony Pipolo, Millennium Film Journal, © December 1980
Available on DVD (together with Paradox)

 
     
 
 
TWELVE MOONS

(& 365 SUNSETS)

29 min,, toned black and white Super 8, audiotape in installation version, (l976)

With the voices of Kathy Acker, Peter Gordon, Ted Castle and Judith Hendra.

 
 
"The series of films of the moon (Twelve Moons, Moonshots, Moon Notes, and The Judas Window) were my first political films. I wanted the audience to hold hands while watching them, searching for a sense of a real community gathered to reflect. In these I was merging associations about cinema and the moon being the first projection screen, with my interest in ancient Maya astronomers and their obsession with celestial signals." L.K., notes.
365 Sunsets
is a series of Polaroid Professional 4”x5” photographs taken with an octoculate camera.
 
     
 
 
MOONSHOTS

l7 min,, 16mm, color, silent (l976)

Toned, black and white and color studies of the moon in full and crescent stages filmed with time-lapse devices and telescopes of varying magnitudes.

 
     
 
 
THE SHADOW

20 min,, 16mm, color, silent (1976)

 

 
  "A view from a window across the street from Pennsylvania Station during the early morning rush hour. At first, the slow camera speed and the overhead angle render all the passersby mechanical, like so many wind-up toys on a display counter. But, as the speed gradually becomes more normal, we distinguish between kinds of walkers; we begin to observe how people are dressed and we conclude that it must be a warm season, perhaps Spring. These rather elementary observations preoccupy us until something totally unexpected happens. About a third of the way into the film, a man suddenly curls up on the sidewalk and remains motionless. A few pedestrians stop by to see if he is all right, but none for too long. A few moments later a wagon arrives, men in white come and carry the man off. There, in the midst of a random view of a city street, the camera has witnessed the stuff of TV hospitals and police shows. We are reminded that city life is teeming with similar unpredictable incidents, and that the germ of narrative itself is embedded in the everyday. What is interesting about this incident is that it throws off the focus of the film. Adjustments in camera distance, when it zooms back, reveals the foot of the filmmaker resting on an open window sill as he films. The sunlight gradually cuts across the image creating, quite literally, a shadow. But these reminders of the film apparatus, the filmmaker's presence and other components, remain ironically outside the scene just witnessed. The title The Shadow, also takes on possible metaphorical meanings in that the incident has disturbed the tranquility and formal symmetry of the film's design."

Tony Pipolo, Millennium Film Journal, © December 1980

 
     
 
 
FALL

10 min,, 16mm, color, silent, with a brief musical passage by D'Indy at the end.(l977)

An approaching runner constructs the suspenseful event of passing by. A study of the relations between the camera shutter and the intermittent image of the runner.

With Tim O'Sullivan

 

 
  "The structure of Fall resembles that of a three-act drama. The first act begins with some lovely lyrical shots of autumn foliage. Next, we see an extreme long shot of a winding road through a wooded landscape. We discern a figure at first far off, running towards us, up to the camera and past. Then, in the entire center section of the film, the camera, mounted n a car driving alongside the runner, plays a kind of game with the running 'protagonist,' teasing the spectator by panning back and forth within a very narrow range of close-ups but never going beyond a composition which is entirely fixed at the top frame line at a point just above the runner's knees. When the camera pans right, the runner is pushed to the far left edge of the frame so that most of him is outside the frame. Since we cannot see both legs within the frame at the same time, it appears that we are only seeing one leg engaged in a strange tapping motion as it hangs inside the frame. And when the camera pans left, the runner is pushed to the far right edge of the frame, and seems to be dangling one leg clownishly inside the frame. What we see is not fully the intelligible act of running but a collection of disembodied parts being 'animated' by the camera's various mechanical gestures."

Tony Pipolo, Millennium Film Journal, © December 1980

 
     
 
 
PARIS HAS CHANGED A LOT

21 min,, l6mm, color, sound, film for a reclined projector and a vertical screen (l977)

Music by Richard Landry

 
  "The camera is placed on the grassy mound between he uptown and downtown lanes of Park Avenue just south of the underpass which goes through the center of the Avenue as an approach to Grand Central Station. We are not aware of the position of the camera until the very end, for the film opens on a close telephoto view of the sculptured facade of Grand Central against a blue sky. As distance changes, we get fuller views of the station, the buildings, the entrance to the roadway which encircles the station, and then the full view of both uptown and downtown traffic lanes on Park Avenue. Camera speed also alters from beginning to end, accentuated by the movement of traffic toward and away from the station. At one point we are focused on an intersection at which the traffic lights dictate the rhythms of movement. Yet, for all the detailed familiarity of the scene --the buildings, and the taxis, pedestrians, and bicyclists endlessly crossing the frame or moving into and out of its depth-- we begin to feel as if we are watching a film preserved in a time capsule from a civilization long destroyed. The defamiliarizing is created by several factors. The acceleration of the images, of course, turns automobiles, bicycles, people, and traffic lights into molecules of city life. In addition, the film has a very beautiful, haunting score composed by Richard Landry, consisting of somber chromatic tones and sounding like the retarded movements of the Ligeti requiem mass in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Last, but not least, the shape of the screen itself is vertical because the projector has been turned on its side to allow the images, which have been filmed from that perspective, to be seen rightside up."

Tony Pipolo, Millennium Film Journal, © December 1980

 
     
 
 
SPLITS

27 min,, 16mm, color, sound (l978)

With Lynn Anander, Kathy Gales and John Levin

Based on 'Emma Zunz' by Jorge Luis Borges

 
  Selected Bibliography:
  • Edgardo Cosarinsky - 'Borges: In/And/On Film' - Lumen Books
  • Tony Pipolo -'The Films of Leandro Katz' - Millennium Film Journal
  • Bérénice Reynaud - 'Petit Dictionnaire Du Cinéma Independant New-Yorkais' - Cahiers du Cinéma
  • Kaja Silverman - 'Splits: Changing the Fantasmatic Scene' - Framework Magazine (and the above link)
 
     
 
 
MOON NOTES

l1 min,, 16mm, color, silent (l980)

Third in a series, this film is divided into four sections: The Tortuous Nature of our Progress, The Fire-El Fuego, Distance Number of Nothing, White Rushes Tied to a Cluster of Mulberry Shoots.

 
  "The moon films are the result of yearlong studies of the full moon and each is more ambitious and more technically sophisticated than the previous one. The filmmaker's ambition is to harness this marvelously powerful force of nature and to place it in the theatrical arena where a gathering of spectators could share the communal feeling that once belonged to ancient civilizations. Certainly these long-held shots of the full moon do what no photograph can do: they assert the living presence of the moon as an eternal object of mystery, glowing in various colors, obscured by passing dark clouds, moving majestically across the night sky. The sheer concentration of imagery, even as it is transformed by the use of different film stocks and speeds, mocks those overfamiliar metaphorical and symbolic uses to which the moon has often been the subject. In these luminous, contemplative gazes of the camera, the moon is rendered awesome, strange, inaccessible as it must have been experienced in the recesses of history."

Tony Pipolo, Millennium Film Journal, © December 1980

 
     
 
 
THE VISIT

(Foreign Particles)

35mm slide sequence, 75 min., black and white, sync sound (l980)

With Mark Boone Junior and José Rafael Arango

 
  "Leandro Katz's The Visit, a slide show with a continuous soundtrack, to be projected on a cinema screen, tells of two men pursuing each other, as criminal adversaries as well as sexually, but it proceeds without explaining what the factual basis or the moral valence of their several encounters might be. To a degree, the facts can be constituted by an alert viewer, and considered in this way The Visit would belong in the category of oblique narratives - narratives that are too sophisticated to tell their stories patently, yet refer to or are clustered around a plausible, psycho-morally motivated sequence of events. On closer inspection, however, it seems more fruitful to waive this category here and merely attribute to The Visit a certain indifference as to whether it suggests a reconstructible plot or not. One element in The Visit that definitely transcends the diegesis of its "story", is the inclusion of bits of theory. The most shocking way in which this is done is through the use of the telephone- a piece of equipment naturally and diegetically present in the room where the scene takes place. The pursued character picks up the receiver and listens to a message. What we hear/ what he hears is a semiotic text involving "the signifier" and "the signified", a short yet aggressively taxing paragraph. Difficult to comprehend for its lack of context and surprising unrelatedness to the events, it is also irritating for reasons of its own, e.g. the linguistic similarity of the two terms it sets out to distinguish. But it is in this that it vaguely connects with the thematics of the work - the unresolved question as to whether the distinction of the two characters as "the pursuer" and "the pursued' is ultimately relevant. By the simple effect of being a slide show, of consisting of still images whose duration on the screen is mainly determined by their emotional weight and by the rhythmic development of the piece, The Visit frees the viewer from the expectations of cinematic "realism". No longer geared to the illusionary flow of events, each image takes on a life of its own, representing psychological instead of cinematic time and freezing the action, as it were, in order to make the configuration on the screen more opaque on the one hand and more analyzable on the other. Meanwhile, the soundtrack continues smoothly, as if synchronous to a realistically unfolding film. It is largely the discrepancy between the steadily advancing sound and the arrested image that incessantly keeps the viewer aware of the aesthetics that inform the work. The viewer is thus invited to dwell upon the decisions of the filmmaker - a quality enforced here by the necessity of Leandro Katz's actually being present to change the slide trays according to an intricate electronic system. And also, the viewer is invited to reflect upon the nature of each behavioral act or emotional response presented on the screen, as they are held up for analysis, frozen in action. This renders a more abstract, less emotionally gratifying, yet more disturbing, persistent quality to the piece. The Visit, although charged with violence, rage and obsession, undercuts its alienating techniques by coming closer to an emotionally satisfying curve of rising and falling tension. There is a sense of closure, of the conflict having spent itself towards the ending. But again this does not necessarily mean that this work adheres to the traditional pattern of cinematic narrative. Its lack of a comprehensible plot, its recourse to theory and opaqueness, its emphasis on the dramatics of the moment and its relish in inexplicable states of passion and archetypal configurations, all together display a divergently oriented narrative sensibility."

Mutations of Film Narrative by Christine Noll Brinckman and Grahame Weinbren. Idiolects # 12 - 1982
Bomb Magazine

 
     
 
 
METROPOTAMIA

25 min,, color, four-channel sound, 16mm film for two projectors and a zig-zag screen (l982)

Music by Richard Landry

 
Unlike the traditional documentary film, Metropotamia addresses several issues in art and cinema which bring into question the spectator's position in relation to recording of 'real' events. Simultaneous projection of two images on a zig-zag screen force the spectator to change and thus maintain awareness of the viewing position while attempting to occupy an advantageous point of view that has been fragmented into three possibilities
 

Leandro Katz©1982

  "Leandro Katz's film for two projectors and zigzag-folded screen, Metropotamia, is a delirious rhapsody to city life, I big city life-which means New York City life. The film is given structure by the passing of one day, from sunrise to nightfall; Katz makes no attempt to rep- p resent the passage of that time realistically, however, preferring instead to speed everything up-clouds, traffic, people all rush by, ever faster against the looming stillness of buildings and highways. The images are of frenetic activity and barely contained force traffic hurtles toward the camera only to stop obediently as the light changes; people tumble down escalators into the subway as though carried over a waterfall; clouds swirl as though steaming from a kettle. The romantic aspect of the film, the pleasure it takes in the look of the city and the rhythms of its movement, is accentuated by the soundtrack, composed by Richard Landry. The sound is that of the saxophone, establishing a mood from the very first note. As the music progresses this mood is intensified through the use of an electronic delay system which produces a haunting echo between the speakers, an aural equivalent to the double projection. Which brings us to the aspect of the I film's presentation which takes it a step beyond the hysteria of the conventional travelogue. Two projectors, each loaded with different reels of film, are set up in the back corners of the room, pointing inward as well as forward at a screen which stands concertinalike so as to accept two images. From a conventional viewing position in the center of the room both films are visible at once, one intersecting the other in equal portions. As one moves from side to side, one image grows more complete as the intervening slices of the other narrow to nothing. Katz hopes that this eccentric presentation will encourage the spectators to become more aware of their positions as spectators, forcing them to move around to get a better idea of the whole picture. While this is an interesting enough notion, it is nevertheless true that it takes something more than an oddly shaped screen to disturb the inertia of the usual consumers of spectacle. Far more interesting than its use as a device for installing self consciousness in its viewers is the zigzag screen's potential for extending our understanding of montage. Here the two terms are neither superimposed nor juxtaposed, but repeatedly inserted into one another. It is this intermingling, almost erotic in its effect, that makes Katz's rhapsody so effective. It abstracts from the specific details of daily life, building a rhythmic picture of sensation, taking us from the particularities of life in New York to a more generalized sense of the endlessly repeating movement, abrasive yet soothing, of life in Metropotamia."

Thomas Lawson, Artforum Magazine ©1982

 
     
 
 
THE JUDAS WINDOW

l5 min,, 16mm, color, silent (l982)

Part of a gallery installation of the same title, The Judas Window is divided into four sections: A Cinematographic Rain, The Urge to Save, The Mountainside and the Shoulder, Many Dancers Were Nurses.

 
  "Playing with the anticipation it activates as a screen/window, this film calls attention to itself as an alluring sign of the possibility of vision at a secure distance. Our fascination with looking, and cinema as a constant regenerator of the scopophilic desire, peer back at us through The Judas Window. Continuous images of the moon elaborate upon this question, for the moon, by virtue of our vision and its distance, becomes an ideal location of mythic otherness, and for the desire to possess. Five enigmatic intertitles punctuate this series of moon images, with each section characterized by particular technical treatment (freeze frames, slow dissolves, timing devices) and varying stages of the moon's cycle. Shifting from images of crescent to full moons, from single to multiple ones and from discontinuous to flowing movements, the range of views composed ends on a significant note; extreme telescope close-ups render the moon physical, however, in acquiring that proximity, we lose sight of the object in its entirety. It can no longer be the moon that we know from a distance."

Coco Fusco, The Filmmaker's Coop Catalogue.

 
     
 
 
THE VISIT

30 min,, 16mm, black and white, sound (l986)

With Mark Boone Junior and José Rafael Arango

Cinematography: Viktor Vondracek

 
     
 
 
REEL SIX

Charles Ludlam's Grand Tarot

8 min., 16mm, color (l987)

Rare montage footage of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company with Charles Ludlam, Black Eyed Susan, John Brockmeyer, Mario Montez, Lola Pashalinsky, Ekathrina Sobechanskaya, Bill Vehr and Lohr Wilson performing Ludlam's first version of 'The Grand Tarot' in 1970.

 
  •Extended notes in Bedlam Days.  
     
 
 
MIRROR ON THE MOON

1:40 Color 16mm, (1992)

Cast. David Warrilow, Bérénice Reynaud, Stefan Brecht and Andrew Sharp

Music by David Darling

 
  Three enigmatic stories spiral around an elusive woman in a tale of love, death, and the obsession to decipher beguiling secrets through a labyrinth of suspenseful subplots and reflexive points of view.  
     
 
 
EL DIA QUE ME QUIERAS

30 min,, 16mm, color, sound (1997)

Music by David Darling

 
  •Extended notes in main page, El Día Que Me Quieras.  
     
 
 

PARADOX

30 min,, digital video (2001)

 
  A magnificent figure emerges from the jaws of a mythical animal carved with inscriptions. Known as The Dragon of Quiriguá, this enigmatic stone altar is one of the most extraordinary ancient sculptures on the continent. Spared from deforestation during the introduction of banana plants at the end of the nineteenth century, the seventy-five wooded acres of the Maya site of Quiriguá, stand at the center of the Guatemalan lowlands of the South as a reminder of how things were before the region was turned into a banana republic. Quiriguá houses temple structures, pyramids, the tallest stelae, and Altar P, known as The Dragon.
In a quiet and reflective tone, Paradox alternates between The Dragon of Quiriguá and the feverish harvesting and processing of bananas in the immediate region, moving through a community transformed by questionable labor and trade agreements.
Marked by a truculent history of colonialism connected with land appropriation, the former United Fruit Company, labor struggles, political corruption, military invasions and undercover operations, the paradox suggested by the title of this work provocatively juxtaposes our admiration of the continent's exuberant ancient past with the current conditions of the Latin American working class, both at home or in exile.

•Essay by Jesse Lerner The Paradoxes of Quiriguá
 
     

EXHUMACIÓN

38 min,, digital video (2007)

 
Guevara's Skull
  Entrevista con el médico forense Alejandro Incháurregui, miembro fundador del Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense (EAAF) el cual, junto con el equipo de investigadores y antropólogos cubanos, estuvo a cargo de hallar los restos de Ernesto Che Guevara y sus compañeros en Bolivia, en 1997.
Al cumplirse los cuarenta años de la muerte de Ernesto Che Guevara en 1967, fue imperativo retornar con “Exhumación” al tema del documental “El Día Que Me Quieras”, sobre las últimas fotos tomadas por el fotógrafo boliviano Freddy Alborta, del cuerpo ya sin vida del Che Guevara en la lavandería del Hospital Nuestro Señor de Malta, en Vallegrande, Bolivia.
En “Exhumación”, Alejandro Incháurregui relata cómo el Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, intenta seguir los datos revelados por Mario Vargas Salinas, el general retirado de las Fuerzas Armadas Bolivianas, quien, a pesar de las presiones militares, decide declarar ante el periodista Jon Lee Anderson, del New York Times, el paradero de la tumba clandestina del Che Guevara. Incháurregui concentra su narración en los intentos fallidos de 1995, y en la nueva búsqueda y final hallazgo del los restos del Che y sus compañeros, en 1997, en colaboración con sus colegas argentinos Patricia Bernardi y Carlos Somigliana, y con el apoyo preliminar del equipo de antropólogos forenses cubanos bajo la dirección de Jorge González Pérez.
Este documental encara asimismo detalles sobre el hallazgo de los restos de Tania, La Guerrillera, así como el concepto de “la fotografía como trofeo de guerra”. Sobre estos temas, “Exhumación” revela cómo los militares bolivianos se apoderaban de los efectos personales de las víctimas de la guerrilla del Ñancahuazú, para luego crear un mercado internacional de fetiches y de fotos tomadas por los mismos guerrilleros durante la trágica campaña del Che en Bolivia.
A través de su entrevista, luchando por mantener su objetividad científica, Alejandro Incháurregui, nos permite entrever su pasión por el compromiso con los eventos que marcaron a su generación, y por su dedicación profesional como antropólogo forense, concluyendo que ‘en uno, estábamos exhumando a miles de jóvenes quienes se habían comprometido con los ideales del Che, y que hoy son “los desaparecidos” en la historia de la guerra sucia en la Argentina’.
 
     

BLUEBEARD
by CHARLES LUDLAM

video, 9.15 min., color, sound (1970/2012)

 
Bluebeard scene
  The famous seduction of Miss Cubbidge, with Lola Pashalinski in a rare audio recording, with Charles Ludlam and Lola Pashalinski, 1970 performance. Audio and photographs by Leandro Katz.

 

LOST HORIZON /HORIZONTE PERDIDO
12 mins., color, sound, continuous digital projection (2010)

 
Lost Horizon
  Instalación en vértice para dos proyectores digitales, sonido.

 
     

ROMBO - RHOMB
digital video, 6 minutes, (2011)

 
Rombo
 

Photographs of a crowded street corner in Santiago de Chile are recomposed through a series of geometric patterns while examining the language of the dead time of waiting for the traffic light to change.

Fotografías de una multitud en una esquina de Santiago de Chile son recompuestas a través de una serie de formas geométricas examinando el lenguaje del tiempo muerto mientras se espera que cambie la luz del semáforo.

 
sprockets

A LOVE FOR 3 OR 4 ORANGES
digital video, 10 mins., color, sound (2015)

 
A Love for 3 or 4 oranges
 

In a street corner in Buenos Aires, an extravagant character, dressed in bright colors and wearing his invented costumes, appears every afternoon to salute the world. 'A Love For 3 or 4 Oranges' is an homage to several Argentine myths, and a reference to the theater through Tragedy, Drama, Comedy and Farse.

En una esquina de Buenos Aires, un personaje extravagante vestido con colores brillantes y luciendo sus disfraces inventados, aparece todas las tardes para saludar al mundo. 'Un amor por 3 o 4 naranjas' es un homenaje a varios mitos argentinos, y una referencia al teatro a través de la Tragedia, el Drama, la Comedia y la Farsa.

 
sprockets

THE ABSOLUTE ENCYCLOPEDIA
digital video, 2 mins., color, sound (2010)

 
The Bridge
 

The Absolute Encyclopedia, The Bridge: Chorus quoted from The Order of Things, Speaking, by Michel Foucault - Roosevelt Island, New York. Camera by Tosh Ozawa, and with the voice of Judith Hendra.

 
sprockets

LOLA PASHALINSKI and MISS CUBBIDGE digital video, 25 mins., color, sound (2002)

 
Lola Pashalinski
 

Actress Lola Pashalinski talks about Charles Ludlam and The Ridiculous Theatrical Company, the famous scene from Bluebeard: The Seduction of Miss Cubbidge ( https://vimeo.com/87693838 ), and the avant-garde theatre of New York in the 60s and 70s.

 
sprockets

JOHN VACCARO and THE THEATRE OF THE RIDICULOUS digital video, color, sound (2002)

 
John Vaccaro
 

An interview with John Vaccaro, founder of the Playhouse of the Ridiculous, recalling the actors’ walkout during rehearsals of The Conquest of the Universe, and his friendship with Charles Ludlam.

 
sprockets

OS.TEN.DE (2009) digital video, color, sound

 
Ostende
 

Short vignettes from the International Artists Residency in Argentina, RIAA, featuring works by many of the participating artists, woven into playful scenes filmed during an extended stay in the Old Ostende Hotel, Argentina, 2009. With references to La Invención de Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares, as well as other sources.

 
sprockets
 

For additional information: Leandro Katz