Now, You Can Do Anything
Curated and introduced by Mark Toscano, Academy Film Archive.
The exuberant, irreverent and surprising films of Chris Langdon – hailed as “the first punk filmmaker and the most important unknown filmmaker in the history of the Los Angeles avant-garde” by filmmaker Thom Anderson – make a welcome return to the screen after many years out of circulation. In a rare appearance, the filmmaker will present a brash and funny mix of the so-called high and low: one short film uses a bondage setup as a pretext for a critique of structuralism, while a ludicrous and satirical portrait of Picasso reveals the questionable authority of moving images.
Langdon’s films are direct, formally unique, and full of intuitive flair and wild humor; they delight in provoking and challenging not only modes of artmaking but our reception of art and its purported messages.
From the late ‘60s to the early ‘90s, Chris Langdon produced a large and eclectic body of work in painting, graphics, sculpture, film and video, including about forty 16mm and 35mm films. He received both a BFA and a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, studying with artists Robert Nelson, John Baldessari, and Pat O'Neill, among others. He worked for Baldessari and artist Jack Goldstein in the production of a number of their films.
In 1994, Chris retired from making art. In 1997, now known as Inga Uwais, she graduated from Chinese medicine school and began work as an acupuncturist and herbal doctor, living and working in China for several years. She returned to painting in 2010.
Now, You Can Do Anything (made with Fred Worden, 1973, 5.5min.)
“A day at the beach in Malibu, at the northwestern edge of what Reyner Banham calls ‘Surfurbia’ and a wry commentary on surf culture.” (Thom Andersen)
Bondage Boy (1973, 5.5min.)*
“A quiet evening at home with a little twine....” (Langdon)
This is the Brain of Otis Crawfield (1973, 4min.)*
“Sweetbreads 39 cents a pound .” (Langdon)
999 BOY (aka Express Implication) (1974, 10min.)*
Based on a true story.
Bondage Girl (1973, 6min.) (aka Immaculate Gate)*
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. “Drugs are bad.” (Chris Langdon)
Interview With an Artist (ca.1975, 13min.)
“The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.” (Lester Bangs, quoted here without the permission of the filmmaker)
Go Oh Wow (1972, 6min.)*
“Oh wow.” (You)
Picasso (April 8, 1973, 3min.)*
“When Picasso died I wanted to make the first post-mortem documentary, as I knew would happen anyway, and cheaply. The film took four hours to finish from camera to print and cost a little under $5." (Langdon)
My Laser (ca.1974, 5min.)
“The artist as hologram. -or- Artist held hostage by technology.” (Langdon)
Two Faces Have I (1973, 3min.)
Cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
Love Hospital Trailer (ca.1975, 3min.)*
“The existence of good bad literature – the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously – is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration.” (George Orwell, also quoted here without the permission of the filmmaker)
The Last Interview With P. Passolini (1975, 6min.)
“I've never wanted to make a conclusive statement. I've always posed various problems and left them open to consideration.” (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Revisionist history? Wish fulfillment? Mockery? Homage? Outrage? Effigy? Satire? Art assassination?
“Non capisco.” (P. Passolini)
Venusville (made with Fred Worden, 1973, 10min.)*
“No montage, no human subjects, minimal visual content, and the artists basically pissing on the fourth wall by calling attention in every way possible to the artifice of what they're doing. An anti-film school film made at film school.” (Mark Toscano)
The Gypsy Cried (1973, 3min.)
“Part of the reason I made this is because when one likes something very much, or someone, it is hard to do anything but like it. I didn’t want to take anything away or add anything to this song because I like it a lot.” (Langdon)
TRT approx. 90min.
(16mm, prints courtesy of the filmmaker and the Academy Film Archive)
Films marked with an * will be shown in restored prints from the Academy Film Archive.