Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, 2007)


You may have heard of 4-year-old Marla Olmstead and her strikingly sophisticated abstract paintings; and you may have heard the general consensus that their sophistication owes a lot to her cowardly father's secret input and/or tyranny. Accordingly, in your mind you may have formed your own maniacal portrait of a parent so ghastly and despicable, and then here comes Amir Bar-Lev to present the lovely, twinkling Mark and Laura Olmstead, who, by all accounts, are determined to ensure a happy and wholesome state of mind for their two adorable children. And then you get a nasty feeling. As Bar-Lev's layered, piercing documentary unfolds, and damning evidence builds up against the Olmsteads, you find yourself suppressing your better judgment, and scouring for unlikely clues to vindicate them lovely Olmsteads. As Bar-Lev catches himself doing the same, torn as he is between his common humanity and his pursuit of truth (not to mention, 'documentary gold') he brings up some pesky points regarding the editorial slants and agendas that shape the reportage that so often poses as objective fact.
Working off the implication that reportage (including documentaries and news reports), like art, is subjective, he examines in great detail the role of the artist in relation to his/her work, both in terms of his/her self-aggrandising perspective as well as his/her status in the eyes of the public. Furthermore (and in line with his sole original motive), in terms of pure artistry and virtuosity, he ponders what it is exactly about Marla's technically irrational paintings that makes them beautiful and moving and worth thousands of dollars. And as he watches the same paintings' gushing devotees decamp and start denouncing, he comes across some uncomfortable revelations about the corrupting human dependence on neat, (more often than not) projected narratives.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home