Guy Richards Smit
through Feb. 26 Rebecca Chamberlain in 'Nausea II'
The premier of Guy Richards Smit's Nausea II at Radio Radio was a successful affair. A solid mix of bohemian intellectuals and city socialites crowded the club to view the film and subsequently see Smit's real-life, yet fictitiously blended band, Maxi Geil! and PlayColt. The film itself centered around eccentric flashes of ego-hysteria, a tumultuously taboo subject, and pop art icons - yet fell short in acknowledging the audience's credibility in evaluating art on their own terms.
The gritty, raunchy nature of the film project may be too much for some uninterested in the light-hearted social commentary that flows just beneath the surface. For those who can stomach the graphic language and subject matter, this film is simply eye candy with a touch of greater contemplation on the status of contemporary art.
Smit's film shows a fluxus influence as Maxi Geil! (Smit) embarks on an absurdist journey, beginning in the depths of the pornography industry, and culminating with his breaking with the cookie-cutter success of porn for the greater pursuit of a life more pure. Abrupt shots of his own paintings litter the film to draw our attention to the connection between porn's niche and the artist's niche. As if we couldn't read the subtle signals, Maxi Geil! then completely exposes the underlying theme of art as sellable object by lecturing his fellow media that porn in now a mediocre blend of excessively and poignantly marketed propaganda. He tells his fellow pornographers, "I am constantly amazed at your limitations."
In visual terms, the film is a success. It is lucid, graphic, and edgy — as if made in the same vein as a porn film. The colors are brilliant and vivacious: a techno-colored palate heightens the artistic and aesthetic appeal. While many of the scenes are chaotic and incoherent, there are other moments that are visually stunning. Flashy tones, staunch composition, and retro accents all combine to create an elegant balance amidst the apparent disarray.
Contemporary art's friction with the art market is not a new theme - in fact it has been rehashed by artists since the beginning of the Warhol's day. Smit's project is a lack-luster attempt at critiquing the niche-market that he apparently despises. But Smit's cult-film has found a niche of its own. He has created a stir of success surrounding his unique theatrical productions. It will be interesting to see if Smit practices what he preaches - if he will be willing to leave the predictable niche of performance film/rock in favor of a more imaginative aesthetic vocabulary.
Nausea II and the works of Guy Richards Smit will be on view at iMOCA through Feb. 26. iMOCA is open every Thursday through Saturday, 11a.m. — 6p.m. Admission is free.