In Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason, Jason is an Afro-American, gay, self-declared hustler who performs his own character in front of the camera. This is sometimes funny, but also sometimes cynical, serious, or just sad. Dominance and submission, ups and downs are all dealt with on the two levels of biographical anecdote and of the film’s production: Jason’s hopeless love interest Carl Lee and his partner Shirley Clarke challenge Jason’s performer-persona with increasingly confrontational questions from behind the camera.
Made in the late 1960s, this film questions the authenticity that cinéma vérité attempted to create by means of the moving image.
Die kleine Bushaltestelle (The Little Bus Stop) by Isa Genzken is a more recent example of excessive performance in film. T0gether with Kai Althoff, episodes taken from various genres are played out, allegedly drawn from the artist’s own everyday life, and with a number of motifs in common with Portrait of Jason. Here, however, director and performer are one and the same person.
Shirley Clarke, Portrait of Jason, 1967, 105 min, courtesy arsenal, Berlin
Isa Genzken, Die kleine Bushaltestelle, 2012, 71 min, courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin
Compiled and presented by Martina Kigle, Elke Liberda, Inka Meißner, and Alain Volpe / Academy of Fine Arts Vienna