Whitney Biennial shows bike film that doesn't suck

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whitney.jpgLoosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s character Werther, T.S.O.Y.W. is an experimental film by artists Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler. The film depicts a modern disillusioned Werther who steals his friend’s Harley Sportster to enact the great American road trip through the desert.

Shown on dual screen projections, the film simultaneously features each artist’s vision of the journey shot on 16mm film stock. At 200 minutes, T.S.O.Y.W. is a long meditation, with the cameras flowing back and forth from rider to landscape. Scenes move rhythmically between empty roads, filling stations and spectacular stops at Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and Joshua Tree National Park. Eventually the rider fades into the distance, epitomizing Goethe’s romanticized notions of death and freedom.

Films that capture the nature of motorcycling without relying on clichés are rare. Fictional works that portray the deeper emotions and physical endurance of the journey without being laughable could be counted on two fingers before the Whitney Biennial 2008. Most viewers lasted no more than 10 minutes. We’ll be going back for seconds and thirds.

Whitney Biennial 2008

  • Laura Collins

    The rest of the work sucked though, huh?
    And the artists were pretty ridiculous…
    my favorite parody

  • Grant Ray

    I actually liked a few other things. The video installation of the fictional sisters making soap had a wonderful touch of latin magical realism. The film of the blind encountering an elephant was beautifully shot and edited.

    Other pieces had elements of interest, but for the most part they felt either emotionally or conceptually flimsy. Craftsmanship and the lack thereof was also prevalent in many of the works. Sculptures were still arguing the beauty of industrial materialism, photographs still bowing under the weight of Eggleston, etc.

    And, of course, showing Spike Lee’s When the Levee’s Broke made everyone, (and thing), just look like a bunch of vain twats.