By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 2, 2003
Manhattan Tao of Art
Written, Directed, Produced by Enzo Capua
Featuring the Following Artists: Grimanesa Amoros, Anna Bialobroda, Saint Clair Cemin, Yasmine Chatila, Colette, Will Cotton, Inka Essenhigh, Madeleine Hatz, Brad Kahlhamer, Damian Loeb, Barbara Thomas, Betty Tompkins, Andres Serrano, Hunt Slonem, David Stoltz, and Clemens Weiss.
Cameramen and Editors: Hamza Abutthair
and Marco Caruso
Composer: Ferenz Kallos
Art Consultants: Egizio Panetti, Marie Pierre Nakamura, and Elga Wimmer
Quotes From Tao the Ching (Principal Book of Taoism)
Manhattan Tao of Art is like a patchwork quilt with a theme, the life of sixteen artists in Manhattan, just weeks before September 11, 2001. The artists were eager to describe their passion and talent, as their art was so intrinsic to their thoughts and to the individual quotes from Tao the Ching, which Mr. Capua chose to announce each of the interviews of the City artists in their studios, juxtaposed against street scenes, edgy chamber music, and wild, mostly nighttime video, of Midtown, Downtown, Times Square, Bridges, Rivers, Parked Automobiles, Large Office Buildings, and numerous other iconic images. There was an extreme realism to the camera work, speeding through streets, just before landing in the next artist's studio and listening to that artist speak, minus the voices or images of the interviewers or cameramen.
This film has been in the preparation process since 2002, as the editing of sixteen artist interviews and numerous rides through City Streets, Bridges, and Boats is extremely detailed and challenging. Mr. Capua and his team have created a most unusual window into the world of today's painters, sculptors, video artists, and photographers, with their pets (birds and taxidermy), their furniture (modern or resourceful), their unusual clothing (especially Colette's hair and dress), views from their windows, and, poignantly, their creative innocence, pre-9/11/2001.
I would suggest extending the length of time the Tao quotes and names of artists appear onscreen. As I previewed a longer version than the final film as screened, I found some of the introductions and speeches too lengthy. It's good to know there has been some cutting, and perhaps more revisions will follow. However, this is an interesting take on the Summer, 2001 world of visual art, among mostly lesser-known artists, in spacious lofts or eclectic apartments. The Art Consultants chose the sixteen artists to be interviewed, and their research method seemed mainly subjective.
It might be interesting to visit a few of these artists today to see how they are thriving two years later and to see if the creative innocence has changed. I would be curious if Mr. Capua would choose the same quotes today for the artists in their current surroundings and activities. Many of these artists were probably displaced by the 9/11 Disaster. The landscape has changed. Hopefully, the laughter still exists, as life continues in the world of individual creativity.
I enjoyed the Soundtrack, composed by Ferenz Kallos. It was as dissonant as a Manhattan street corner at midnight, as a winding staircase, as a sculpture of a pregnant man. It was as dissonant as the paintings of textured, expressionistic murals, large and small, and as dissonant as abstract, geometric, bronze or steel figures. It was as dissonant as a pigeon's squawk and as dissonant as walls of stuffed forest animals and other small creatures. And, it was as dissonant as the recurring images of the twin towers, so painful to envision, so incredible to absorb.
I wish Mr. Capua well in the future production and distribution of his film, Manhattan Tao of Art.