short takes (2)

Stuart Sherman has the manner of a stand-up comic, but his aims are a lot more serious: in fact, this marvelous "performance artist" wants to explore the complex relationships among people, objects, and ideas. Though he is best known for his entertaining "spectacles," created for the stage and often recorded on videotape, he makes a lot of movies, too -- short, laconic, and often humorous, with titles like "Rock/String" and "Roller Coaster/Reading."

I welcome the increasing visibility of his films at museums and experimental showplaces, and on public TV. But a recent retrospective of his "spectacles," at the Kitchen in New York, confirmed my feeling that his best work is still geared toward in-person performances. Here's hoping he learns to transfer more of his personal magic to his movies, which -- provocative though they are -- don't yet do justice to the full range of his unique talent.

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