Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quay Brothers Exhibit


Early yesterday Kristina Carroll tweeted that she would be meeting Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon at Parsons to see the Quay Brothers exhibit. Quay Brothers exhibit!? How could I not have known. No matter, Parsons is just five blocks away so I ran to met up with them during my lunch-hour.

I stumbled onto the Quay Brothers when I was in high school and while I quickly jumped from them to Jan Svankamjer, there is no denying seeing Street of Crocodiles was a mind-blower for me. Until then, stop motion animation consisted of "The California Raisins". (For you youngin's, you'll have to imagine a time when the world was not at your keyboard, especially out in the burbs.) Ever since, animation, and stop motion in particular, has embodied a perfect melding of visual art, sound, and dance for me. An art form that always feels deeply internal yet just outside of comprehension. When done right.

Dormitorium: An Exhibition of Film Decors by the Quay Bros.
Through October 4th / Free
Set decors and projected film excerpts.
12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Thursday until 8:00 p.m.
66 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street.

The exhibit consists of eleven miniature sets and their corresponding puppets. The scenes are presented in a dark room in boxes lit from within. Some of the boxes had magnifying portals to look through which not only forced you to step close into the environments but also created constant distortions and changes in focus. All in all, they are every bit as isolating and claustrophobic as the movies they were in service to.

The layout of the room, while sparse, does a good job of making feel as if you are in an encased exterior. The walls are made of black curtains. It took me a while to realize that behind the curtains were giant windows -- as clouds would come and go outside, the room would (almost subliminally) grow lighter and darker. Tall spindly lighting stands extended from the floor until they and branched out at the tops to grab the ceiling. the whole effect is like walking through a dark and wiry minimalist forest.

Excerpts from the films are projected in an alcove which not only allows you to see the sets and puppets in action, but gives the whole exhibit the same attention to sound and music as the movies. Having a chance to see some of the movies on a larger-than-television screen will mean I spend a number of lunch hours there before closing.


tlchang said...

Ah, you New Yorkers, with your constant access to things weird and wonderful...

Zelda Devon said...

Oh, Street of Crocodiles... so wonderfully uncanny.

Vicki Khuzami said...

A cloak of sadness but so beautifully haunting..
Quay Brothers portal is well worth entering..

Koldo Barroso said...

I've been a fan of qay Bros since their very beginnings, I wish so bad that I could attend this exhibition! Thanks for sharing!

Carl V. Anderson said...

How gloriously odd and interesting! I would be camping out there if I lived in the city! I'm always impressed by stop-motion knowing that it takes real passion to create something that is so painstaking. So glad you shared this with those of us who cannot visit on our lunch breaks!!!

Kristina Carroll said...

Great Exhibit- and great sharing it with you! Your pictures turned out so amazing too!