Days of Lore

MORE FARTSY THAN ARTSY Believe you me, I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to art—sure, I can appreciate the different techniques of a Van Gogh or a Diego Rivera, but I’ll be damned if I can dig deep beneath the surface and explain how a piece of lint on a canvas represents man’s struggle with truth in a modern society force fed misinformation by evil corporate-owned media outlets. Well, can you?

GET YOUR PHIL That said, I was able to take in a few exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this weekend—the stark, beautiful black-and-white photos of Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, the almost-living paintings from German artist Anselm Kiefer and, most notable, a video installation by British photographer and video artist Phil Collins.

Yes, I know, it would have been a lot cooler if it was the Phil Collins of Genesis and Buster fame, but no such luck.

STRANGEWAYS HERE WE COME Since 2004, this Phil Collins has been working on a three-part video project called The World Won’t Listen, where he films people from different countries (and walks of life) as they sing karaoke versions of Smiths songs from the 1987 album of the same name.

Collins, known for doing projects in conflicted parts of the world, filmed the first chapter of El Mundo No Escuchará in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2004, where he recorded the music of the album in its entirety with local musicians. With the karaoke portion complete, Collins filmed the second installment, titled Dünya Dinlemiyor (the one currently on display at MOMA), in Istanbul, Turkey, in the summer of 2005 after posting fliers looking for “the shy, the dissatisfied, narcissists and anyone who’s ever wished they could be someone else for a night.”

Now, there’s an obvious humor in seeing Turkish fans pour their hearts into old Smiths songs—sort of like being a fly on the wall in their living rooms. But as I continued to watch the 8-foot projection screen, there was an endearing genuineness that came through as Collins’ camera zoomed close to catch the sweat, joy and even sadness as they sang along with Morrissey’s dejected lyrics.

It’s worth checking out if you find yourself in the city. The exhibition, as well as Kiefer’s Heaven and Earth, is on display through Jan. 21. Modotti’s and Weston’s photography will be there until Jan. 2.

The CONFOUNDED BRIDGE I also made a journey to the ever-touristy Crissy Field, overlooking the bridge and Alcatraz Island, a nice place to have lunch and, of course, people watch.

It was the first time I’d actually seen the bridge since the controversial filming of Eric Steel’s documentary The Bridge.

Steel was the guy who told the Golden Gate Bridge committee that he was making a “day in the life” documentary on the landmark and officials allowed him to set up two strategically placed cameras on the bridge to film nonstop during the daylight hours. Steel later revealed that he was actually making a film on the numerous people who commit suicide each year from the bridge and that he had caught nearly two dozen jumpers on tape.

“I wanted to make a film about the human spirit in crisis that showed but did not judge,” Steel writes on his Web site,

Steel, who also interviewed friends, family members and witnesses for the film, said he and his crew were usually the first callers to bridge patrols when they suspected someone was about to take the plunge.

It’s a bizarre situation to say the least. And despite Steel’s not-so-sincere approach, the film couldn’t have been made any other way. Some good may come out of it, however, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported that transportation officials approved a study to possibly construct a suicide barrier on the bridge.

The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and started playing in select theaters last month. The Bridge shows for the last time in this area tonight (Nov. 16) at the Crest Theater in Sacramento at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.