Disconnection: Clare Denis & Taryn Simon

I’m noticing a terrible disconnection between some of the things I am reading, visiting, watching and observing, and us, readers, viewers, watchers, and observers. What is it? Is this in me, as it must be, and only in me? Or is this in the world? I believe it is also in the world. I am thinking in particular of Clare Denis’ Let The Sunshine In and Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss.

I watched Claire Denis’ new film, Let The Sunshine In, and found it as dark and as terrifying as her last film, Bastards. Bastards was a brilliant film, although I would have found it unwatchable if I hadn’t seen it on my own in the afternoon, in the middle of summer. There was enough written about it before I saw it for me to decide how I saw it. But Let The Sunshine In? I watched twenty five minutes before I had to end it. I wasn’t prepared for it. More about men and their capacity to trash, to ruin, to abuse life and how some people un-knowingly invite that darkness in. Perhaps there was sunshine to come, but I wasn’t going to wait while the atmosphere felt apocalyptic.

I went to see An Occupation of Loss by Taryn Simon and came away chilled, wondering how much the professional mourners were being paid, hopefully as much as any actor on a London stage. While I was there I was as much affected by the attendants and their cold professionalism, their lack of respect for anybody (mine, or of anybody I came with, or of anybody else, the body of this show) in a way that seemed as horribly professional as any other kind of hack entertainer, because they were (although it seemed to have been forgotten) part of the show. An Occupation of Loss was a show about money, and death is always also about money, isn’t it? I was told, in what I read beforehand, nothing about this.

Neither Denis nor Simon were served well by their critics. Writers, critics, seem to have lost the sense that what they are describing exists, for real, real texts in the world, as things, bodies of a particular kind, that carry the intentions of their creators and participants: all of them.

The ideas I read in reviews are like a drama in themselves. Who knows what kind of a reading will connect me to the thing they try to describe?

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