Last summer, artist and bar proprietor Drew Heitzler curated an exhibition with his L.A. gallery, Blum&Poe, called “Endless Bummer/Surf Elsewhere,” which included Ed Ruscha, Carol Bove and R. Crumb, among others. Now, Heitzler is onto this summer’s project.
Premiering today at collector Christine Nichols’ Maya Lin-designed home in Venice, Heitzler will privately screen a new three-channel video, Spiral Jetty/Crystal Voyager /Region Centrale (Bottleged, Re-ordered, Combined, Sometimes More, Sometimes Less) which displays digitalized films by Robert Smithson, Michael Snow and George Greenough.
The tripartite work draws from sources that have previously sought to suspend time and space: Spiral Jetty, the documentary film of Smithson’s construction of a Utah jetty; and Michael Snow’s experimental film, La Region Centrale which employs a camera able to film 360 degrees.
The third component, Greenough’s epic 1972 film, Crystal Voyager, made history as the first film to equipt a surfer with a specially designed camera that could record inside a wave. It became, Heitzler told A.i.A., “an unintentional structuralist film,” while depicting the making of a sailboat and the story of a wave.
In these bootlegged videos (mined from the Internet), Heitzler explores “a zeitgeist” where these three filmmakers, independently from one other and in different subcultures, made films with similar themes. The piece approaches its subject with a mystical but comfortable exoticism. “In the 1970s there was the idea of finding the answer through science and metaphysics, or trying to find the answer through science to solve metaphysical problems,” he says.
Heitzler’s art emerged from obsessive movie-watching, and his playlist-style composition is connected with other exhibitions exploring cities’ visual histories and the unforeseen connections between disparate communities in Orange County, Baldwin Hills and Culver City.
This latest video foregrounds audio, and he says that sound editing was as crucial as actual footage. “The image is a given, but the audio is manipulated to make up a new story,” he says.
While each of the original works is commercially and easily available, Heitzler prefers the bootleg version and the “transfer residue” created by cheap reproduction. The videos will be shown again this summer at Renwick Gallery in New York as part of a summer exhibition, the season typically reserved for group shows. Drew requested the slot “I liked the idea that there could be confusion as to whether this is a group of curated films or art making,” he says.
ABOVE: PHOTO BY JONAH FREEMAN