Trashy Flashy: 80's NY NoWave scene parallels MPLS Untitled Movement
This month, we at The FUTURE PRESENCE Gallery have launched two new programs that open up our creative space to further inspiration and collaboration. The first being our monthly FREAKONOMIQUE Music Series, where musicians are given an installation space and a month to create an immersive world for experimental music. For our second new program, we would like to invite you to our First Movie Monday screening of 80's cult trash film Liquid Sky paired with the premier showing of local director Scott Anderson's Veritas/Truth.
This entry will be less about the movies themselves (as nothing is worse than a spoiler) and more about the moods and connections that the films create. New York during the early 1980's was particularly hard hit by a national recession; a place where downtown was still dangerous and Times Square was not yet a cleaned-up tourist destination. It was also a place where artists, runaways and the ambitious could go to live whatever dream they had, and became the breeding ground for a post-punk melting pot renaissance. Liquid Sky is a portrait of this world, mixing the drugs, sleaze and grime of an urban epicenter with a variety of themes delivered with heavy-handed philosophy of the times and self-aware parody. At a time when underground cinema was just beginning to see daylight, Liquid Sky was one of the first truly independent movies to be both a cult and a (very) minor mainstream success that paved the way for hundreds of films since. Here in Minneapolis, artist/art director/music video maker Scott Anderson's experiment with found VHS tapes and outdated recording technology is firmly tongue in cheek, blurring the same "Is this intentionally bad?" line that Liquid Sky rides.
Another parallel arises, less from the styles of the films but from the environment and factors that created them. From an art historian perspective, the film offers a unique view of the early 80's downtown scene: where artists, graffiti writers, musicians, fashion and filmmakers collaborated with the party crowd and the rich met the poor to battle over creative dominance. Known to some as the Downtown 500 (whose members included Jean Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, David Byrne, Madonna, Klaus Nomi...), Fab Five Freddy recalls that the scene was all about cross pollinating, and being interdisciplinary. "You could just like say I'm a filmmaker, and like your first screening, we would be there! and you'd be a filmmaker."
If you are a creative type living in Minneapolis, a small city with little art history of its own, it might be easy to look at an epoch like 80s New York as a world away, and wishing to be there. But if you take a look around you, and replace big city angst with Midwestern work ethic and attention to craft, you will realize that we may have a similar renaissance on our hands...Years ago there was a crop of talented artists who made an impression in Minneapolis, and then booked the first plane-ticket to New York. Less than a decade later, with rent impossibly expensive in Manhattan and Brooklyn, artists are finally deciding to stay here, in boring Minneapolis, where they can afford to work. They are coming from around the country as well, actors from LA and NY can find work here, musicians from Eau Claire, Chicago and Austin collaborate freely in our community, and even those artists that moved to New York are slowly finding their way back. The charm of 80s New York, the cheap rent, cheap bars, a music scene, an art scene, a film scene; that can all be found here! To further my case, I challenge you to think of a single creative in this city that sticks to one medium. Artists use many mediums, installations and street art. Everyone is in a band, and their friends make their music videos. Advertisers are writers, baristas are poets and Target designers are print shop owners. It seems like everyone I know has an Etsy or Facebook page for their creative passions. Although it may not be as glitzy, and the rich collectors may not have discovered it quite yet, please trust me that the Minneapolis Untitled Movement will soon be making waves. After all, we are asking quite nicely for you to pay attention.
One more thought: As winter grows colder it seems ludicrous to those from warm climates that many of us are excited about it. But we are a strange breed - true Minneapolitans know that this is the time of the year when we get the most work done, painting series are started, films are created and new albums are finished. Because what else are you supposed to do while locked inside for 6 months out of the year? With that said, stop into The FUTURE PRESENCE Gallery once a month for an art opening, once for an experimental music show, and the first Monday of every month to see what your friends and neighbors have been creating.