14 August 2011

"Desert of Forbidden Art" -- some brief comments

I spent Saturday evening at the renovated Fox Theater in Pomona watching (for a second time) the very good new documentary, "The Desert of Forbidden Art," and then moderating a panel discussion with its co-directors, Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev.

The movie tells an extraordinary story about an eccentric art lover, Igor Savitsky, who, during the Soviet era, managed to establish a museum of "forbidden" art in the very-out-of-the-way desert city of Nukus (check the map!).

Along with providing a nuanced and appreciative portrait of Savitsky's defiance and commitment to art, the film explores the relationship between aesthetic value and the processes that transpose aesthetic value into monetary value (or to invoke an old-fashioned Marxist term, into exchange value).  In addition -- like Herzog's recent film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams -- this is a film in which the camera both appreciates and guides our appreciation of works of visual art.

This film is a real achievement; I highly recommend it.

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