i wanted every day to last forever: irwin swirnoff & Kevin J. Everson

October 6, 2010

I had the rare pleasure of seeing experimental film two nights in a row this week, especially gratifying given the paltry mainstream fare I’ve been viewing lately to feed this effort. In his Q and A at Redcat, Kevin Jerome Everson, a hip, funny, sometimes even silly spokesperson for his own work and avant-garde film more generally, kept enumerating the unique pleasures and particular provenance of such small, intelligent efforts: lovingly made by their artists to engage in cinematic concerns well outside of narrative causality or tired old stereotypes. His highly choreographed depictions of working-class African Americans first follow a structural rubric (one magazine black and white long take), then satisfy his needs for material magnificence (these are art images not people), and only then focus in on people he knows who are attending with care to their daily efforts: cleaning medical instruments, fencing, riding beneath a waterfall, crunk dancing.

Photo by Kevin Jerome Everson

At the Echo Park Film Center, irwin swirnoff, one of my first film students at Pitzer, and currently a DJ, poet, music video director, and experimental filmmaker, carefully choreographed his own private non-narrative breed of storytelling, stitching together six of his short films, from over ten years, to create a sun-drenched, painfully romantic serenade to San Francisco and the fleetingly evoked, later to be tilted love objects who live with him there. The mood in the middle gets rough as swirnoff’s “an anthem” to illness and the materiality of the body closes down his vision to the world’s daily delights (children, dogs, and pigeons usually play prominently in his visual repertoire, as do sidewalks and anything that flits across a blue sky). Carefully scored to discordant sound collages, “i wanted every day to last forever” emerges from swirnoff’s understandable depression and anger to re-find the sky’s blue, his friends’ beauty, and even traces of the soft wind across the scarves, flags, and waves of his beloved bay area.

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