Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Doris Lasch/ Ursula Ponn, Le Musee Imaginaire, 2004, project for a record cover. Courtesy the artists. From Lasch/Ponn If you don't create your own history someone else will, Frankfurter Kunstverein, 27 Mar- 31 May 2009. 

Seeing so many films it's hard for The No-Film Film Column to find things to write about. Of course, I could stop seeing films altogether and then I'd have lots to write about. But then I wouldn't be The No Film Film Column. I'd just be a column about whatever else it was I was doing, which wouldn't be interesting at all. 

It's difficult. Anyway, today, this lack of No-Film Film subject matter is not an issue because The No-Film Film column got its hair cut. Yes, it's hard to believe it, but The No-Film Film Column has this endless cycle of wanting to grow its hair long, then getting all fed up of it and having it cut off. It's quite filmic in its way, both commercial film and experimental film. It's what links them. Eisenstein wrote an essay about it. 

Let's not go there. Not yet. The other recurring theme of this column is cafes and I am indeed sat in a cafe , with a cappucino and a white chocolate chip and macadam nut cookie, which is neither here nor there (the general point, not the cookie, which is on a saucer). 

Please, says the cookie using a chance nut-chip alignment for a mouth, one needs to hold to a firm sense of what's relevant and not to the subject at hand. Focus breeds narrative structure breeds coherence upon which The No-Film Film Column brand depends.

So, yes, having my hair cut. What about it? Well let's give in to the inevitable. It's like you have this vast amount of film material, and you don't know what you want to do with it, so you have a slightly awkward conversation where you hold it up and discuss length, then you cut it all up and then you blow dry it, put a little wax all over it, take £35 from its wallet and send it out into the street-cinema.

On the other hand, there could be a way of re-conceiving the process where it's all very relaxed and intuitive and where the faintest hand gesture or syllabic utterance leads to total understanding, leads to a magnificent haircut, leads to blow drying, leads to a little wax all over it, leads to a spring in the step, leads to the taking of £35 from your wallet, leads to the writing of a column like this.

This doesn't have to be haircuts. It doesn't have to be haircuts and film. There's no limit. It could be about global politics, although I think I rather said all I wanted to say about that in the last No-Film Film Column. It could be about macadam nuts, but that might lead to an argument. It doesn't have to be about anything. Just enjoy the feeling of a new haircut. For Christs sake, No-Film Film Column, relax

Perhaps I am writing about haircuts because this column, too, occupies that brief pause where anxiety about fixity disappears, and the mind is still shifting in a void, a limbo looking for another limbo to Google chat with. It's like that period in the 1960s Robert Beavers talked about at Tate Modern last year - after censorship laws had been suspended and before the full onslaught of commercial pornography had taken its place. 

It sounded beautiful, that period, when he talked about it. I'm not sure how one translates the mood he conjured with the historical detail, to actual historical places and times, and people doing things or not doing things or over-doing things, but it was remarkably redolent when he talked about it. It was as if such a period could only exist forty years later as a colour or a flaming aleph or a cloud of midges descending on an outdoor tai chi class somewhere on the West Coast of Scotland. 

Doris Lasch/ Ursula Ponn, Untitled, 2003, b/w photograph, baryt paper on aluminium, 120 x 178cm. Courtesy the artists. 

I think that might be what the No Film Film Column is all  about. It's why it needs its film and why it needs its No-Film. Its about that space where one preoccupation falls away and the mind is still looking for another one. So as a sensation, as much as it can be expressed in language at all, it's a mix of rising and falling, exploding and imploding, speaking and listening, eating and drinking, walking and sitting down, extrapolating at vast length, eating a Turkish stew in Dalston, and taking a vow of silence again in order to break a previous one. 

And also macadam nuts. Which is all well and good and should really be the conclusion, but, suddenly, I'm thinking Emperor's New Clothes. I'm thinking about the odd presence the story has in my mind, more confused than the version in many books. This includes:

a suddenly naked emperor... clothes that are no clothes, whipped off a body by a scepticism about power... a tailor who is also an experimental film maker... another tailor who dresses the King like he's a Super 8 movie, stockpiles polaroid films from German websites, and escapes death with only his love of Stan Brakhage intact... 

This was no Jack Zipes re-telling. It was all getting a bit too film-based for The No-Film Film column. Don't forget Warhol:

I took a photo of the emperors new clothes and the emperor took a photo of my tailor. Then the tailor took a photograph of my new clothes and I took a photo of the emperor dressed up as the tailor. Then the tailor took a photograph of the emperor and I took a photo of the emperor and the emperor said he didn't know how to use a disposable camera but he took a photo of me anyway. 

Then we all realised simultaneously that our vanity and pride was getting in the way of good photos. Then I realised I didn't have a tailor, why would I, duh, and the tailor I didn't have took a photo of the emperor who laughed, dropped his camera, and stamped on it, but not before he had taken a photo of all of us, although why bother I say if that was his intention, really. 

Then the tailor made a run for it, clever sod, and I took a photo of the empty room and the empty room took a photo of my new clothes and the emperor took a photo of himself putting on what were really my new clothes but I wasn't going to say anything I'm no idiot...

Doris Lasch/ Ursula Ponn, Through the back door of a public secrecy, 2004, s/w Polaroid. 120 x 178cm. Edition 15, 2006, Courtesy the artists. 

Oh now I am mental-swimming, said The No-Film Film Column. Yes, that's where the No-Film and the film and the macadam nuts and the cappucino meet the haircut. That's where it all comes together, and not like soup. But it's ideas alright, and they add up, one after another, in multiple directions, god help us, into architecture.

So, naked but for its pride, The No-Film Film Column heads off into the Hoxton night, lightly waxed, mildly delirious in the way only a No-Film Film Column can be, non-knowing, macadam nuts and all, its new, magnificent, hair.