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Circumstantial Pleasures

Lewis Klahr

USA, 2013 - 2019
65 minutes, Colour, Stereo, 16:9
Original format: HD Video
Available formats: DCP, HD Digital File

Klahr, whom critic J. Hoberman called “the reigning proponent of cut and paste” for his acclaimed collage animations, is best known for his seductive and piercing examinations of midcentury materials and music. Circumstantial Pleasures is a feature-length collection of six short films that see his focus swerve toward more contemporary materials and issues. Exit the lush worlds of melancholy and romance; enter the emptied-out landscapes of asphalt, shipping containers, and vape pods. Set to remarkable music by experimentalists David Rosenboom and Tom Recchion—and featuring a wailing wallop of a late-period song by Scott Walker—Circumstantial Pleasures captures and crystalizes the unease, ugliness, and inhumanity of contemporary life. Rather than restating the things we know, Klahr’s provocative new film uniquely illuminates the gritty emotional and physical textures of what it’s like to be alive right now. (65 mins., digital video)– Wexner Center for the Arts”When Circumstantial Pleasures premiered at Light Industry just as the pandemic’s spread was becoming more evident, a common audience response was how prescient the work was. And it’s true that the images of folks in N95 masks and hazmat suits hit much differently now than they did when the work was being created over the past six years. For me, it’s the depopulated landscapes and nominal presence of humans in these vast open spaces that seem even more charged because of COVID-19. But I saw Circumstantial Pleasures for the first time long before the pandemic was in the air and the work essentially had the same resonance back then. This isn’t a work that illustrates anything that the pandemic has wrought. This is a work that illustrates that the pandemic is a symptom of a larger and more systemic situation that humans have caused in the natural world. “— Chris Stults Wexner Center for the Arts