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Film/Video, Structuring Strategies Presents Laida Lertxundi: Farce Sensationelle, Footnotes to a House of Love, My Tears Are Dry, Cry When it Happens/Llora Cuando Te Pase, A Lax Riddle Unit, and other work

January 22, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 7:00pm

CalArts, Bijou Theater

FILM/VIDEO: “The enigmatic cinema of Laida Lertxundi resists easy categorization. Her works could be described as landscape films, set as they are against the backdrop of Southern California’s deserts and mountains, its blue skies and wild shores. These environments are sparsely populated with non-actors, who are sometimes wandering, sometimes still. Sequences are repeated and reframed, calling back to one another; recorded music plays within the world of the film, taking on the character not of a soundtrack but of a field recording. Narratives are hinted at, flirted with, yet never realized. Her films function as both exactingly arranged experiments with the syntax of film language and lovesick daydreams, fragmented and full of longing.”
-Whitney Biennial 2012

Farce Sensationelle
2009, 2.5 min, 35mm
“Laida Lertxundi's Farce Sensationelle!, a self-portrait and simultaneous homage to Dziga Vertov, fusing the artist's eye with the Kino-eye.” –Images Festival

Footnotes to a House of Love
2007, 13 min, 16mm
“Laida Lertxundi ’s Footnotes to a House of Love, also set in southern California, was in some ways the aftermath to the apocalyptic buildup of SpaceDisco-One. The desert, so often a stand-in for other places imagined by Hollywood, here is barren and bright, set to the tune of Leslie Gore and the Kinks playing through an intrepid little tape deck. The tinny sound carries through a broken down house, a house without walls and whose door falls down the moment someone tries to open it. People drift by and a couple makes love on a sheet laid out in the sand; it’s not clear where the house ends and the desert begins. The music plays in most of the film like a radio signal, a relic of another time, now gone. The film is pervaded with the sense of something having happened, though we’re given only brief glimpses of what came after.” –Genevieve Yue, Senses of Cinema

“The Grand prize of Basque Cinema, Footnotes to a House of Love, by Laida Lertxundi, begins by weaving a series of brushstrokes in the form of annotations, using fragmentation (and the partial use of off frame) and long shots to transform the non-actor into non-character. Maneuver by which all is left is the referent of the California desert landscape. There is a break with cinematographic boundaries and a departure into the terrain of video art.” –Cahiers Du Cinema, Spain

My Tears Are Dry
2009, 4 min, 16mm
“My Tears are Dry (2009) is even more minimalist in its riddling structure. Lertxundi cuts between an image of a woman’s torso on a bed, playing and rewinding the same snip of Hoagy Lands’ title ballad, and another woman sitting on a couch strumming a dissonant chord. Out of this frustrated syntax comes blessed continuity. The song breaks through and sets in motion a weightless daydream borrowed from Bruce Baillie’s 1966 single-shot film, All My Life (included on the same program along with other antecedents by Hollis Frampton and Morgan Fisher): in place of his horizontal pan across flowers, Lertxundi tilts her camera up past palms towards the same pale blue sky. Poignant without object, the film delivers a gentle spiritual plea for persistence.”
– Max Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Cry When it Happens / Llora Cuando Te Pase

2010, 14 min, 16mm
“Los Angeles City Hall is reflected onto the window of the Paradise Motel. It serves as an anchor for this traversal through the natural expanse of California. Here, we discover a restrained psychodrama of play, loss, and the transformation of everyday habitats. Music appears across the interiors and exteriors and speaks of limitlessness and longing.”–http://laidalertxundi.com

“Cry When It Happens(…) sees characters with their vision subsumed in the portholes of dingy technology-and eventually takes on their perspective. In the first image, two girls splay on a couch, antiparallel but touching, vaguely grinning, with the light intensified on their arms and faces. Already the film's both naturalistic, with feeling—a delimited space, real-time hold, physical respite, sense of the bodies touching cloth on all sides—and slightly surreal: their sense of comfort, huddling, belied by the unnecessarily tight squeeze. Eventually two figures in an LA motel room watch TV footage of the sky while one fingers an accordion, and some minutes later, that sky footage becomes the film itself, God's heavens accompanied by the Blue Rondos' "Little Baby." – David Phelps, The L Magazine

A Lax Riddle Unit
2011, 6min, 16mm, color, sound
“In a Los Angeles interior, moving walls for loss. Practicing a song to a loved one. A film of the feminine structuring body.” –http://laidalertxundi.com

“Laida Lertxundi’s A Lax Riddle Unit (2011) also shows a series of gentle transformations. Each of the film’s turns reveals a surprise: a woman suddenly appearing in bed, and, from behind an album cover, her shy smile. With the film’s elements of Los Angeles landscape, houseplants, and James Carr’s plaintive “Love Attack,” continually rearranged like the letters of the title, which is an anagram for Lertxundi’s own name, there is the sense of kaleidoscopic rotation, breathtaking views made with the slightest of movements: changing light, cuts, and slowly revolving camera pans.”– Genevieve Yue, reverseshot.com

“A Lax Riddle Unit (2011) opens on the curled lip of James Carr’s soul number “Love Attack” and a cragged landscape view. The long take floods with softening light, but then a terrifically decisive cut deposits us in the flat light of an apartment. The sudden switch bears the imprint of both insight and displacement. Leafy potted plants reach for the natural light framed in a window, and Carr’s wail gives way to Robert Wyatt’s impressionism: a different emotional architecture entirely. The camera turns slow pirouettes through the apartment, passing over an amplifier (always this confusion about the relationship between sight and sound), a woman kneeling to play a keyboard, some records, and then catching up with her again sprawled in bed. As is often the case in Lertxundi’s films, the composition does not settle on the human form in the usual way. The residue of the apartment, oddly reminiscent of Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963), develops until a few shots later we end with a bleeding red dusk spreading across Los Angeles — an image pitched on the edge of surrender.”
– Max Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Laida Lertxundi makes films with non-actors, landscapes and sounds. Her work has been selected for the 2012 Whitney Biennial, MoMA, LACMA, the Viennale, Views from the Avant Garde at the New York Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. She received the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 48th Ann Arbor Film Festival and was named as one of the “25 Filmmakers for the 21st Century” in Film Comment’s Avant-Garde Poll. She is a film and video curator in the U.S. and Spain and teaches film at the University of California San Diego.


Last edited by dstears on Jan 17, 2013
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