Hal Hartley Shows Film Stills At Skink Ink

Beth Fiore
Feb 28, 2013 12:09AM

Skink Ink the fine art printing studio, editions publisher and gallery in the heart of Williamsburg, New York has planned a very special exhibition for the Armory Show Weekend in Williamsburg -- a curated selection of Director Hal Hartley's film stills. Hartley is widely know for his independent films, which have garnered numerous accolades including 3 entries at Cannes winning best screenplay in 1998 for his film Henry Fool. There will be 30 film stills that will be exhibited as giclée prints in the gallery and will form the basis for an edition that will be presented for sale. These are publicity shots that were not originally for exhibition but nonetheless capture the charm and the style of Hal's movies. These images were never intended to be presented as art. A galley owner might consider them 'found objects', pop culture relics or future historical artifacts. Hal himself considered them the creative collateral of the necessary push for publicity and as such they were originally scanned for use in a biography. To the viewer however they are singularly beautiful objects. Pictures taken out of context that somehow encapsulate in iconic form much of what Hal's movies are about; the dramatic moment, choreographed movement, quirky cinematography; regular ensemble of actors; the inescapable artifice that lends a distinct style to Hal's vision. The stills carry much of what the movies are about with out explicitly stating it. They contain all of the themes of the larger story—love and death, alienation, crimes of passion—and they serve as a trigger to memory especially for those familiar with the original work. To those familiar with the work they are signifiers of things that we already know, stories we have already heard, symbols of the bigger picture used to evoke and reawaken memory. This is the true meaning of ‘icon’ as short hand for something far more complex than any one image could convey. To the neophyte they seem loaded with meaning much like the fake film stills of Cindy Sherman or Gregory Crewsden but where the denizens of high art have so frequently plundered the mainstream for source material rarely has the wider culture wandered so unselfconsciously into their domain. These works which didn't set out to parallel the ruminative works of high art do so with surprising efficacy.

Beth Fiore
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