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January 21st, 2012 3:00pm

327 Braun Court, Ann Arbor, MI

Admission: Pay What You Can

Studies and Observation no.5

STRANDED IN CANTON by William Eggleston


Co-presented by The Ann Arbor Film Festival

In 1973, America's greatest living photographer William Eggleston shot 30 hours of video in and around Memphis. Recorded in ghostly black & white video in the city’s bars and streets, Stranded in Canton (1973-2005, 77 min) is an extraordinary and deeply personal vision of the Memphis demimonde.

Preceded by Danish artist Eva Marie Rødbro’s video Fuck You Kiss Me (2008, 6 min), a portrait of youth in the isolated towns of Greenland.

More on Stranded in Canton:

"In 1973, the photographer William Eggleston bought two SONY Porta-paks. A black and white camera that recorded on reel-to-reel half-inch video tape, the Porta-pak was the first video rig priced for the consumer market and, although ridiculously cumbersome by today's standards, the first that could be used outside a television studio. Introduced to the U.S. in 1966, it became a favorite tool of artists and political activist documentarians. The great advantage of the Porta-pak, in addition to the immediate feedback that distinguished it from motion picture film cameras, was that it could be used in extremely low-light conditions. And in the right hands, it produced images of ghostly beauty...

If nothing else, Stranded in Canton makes us aware of the chaos outside the frame of every Eggleston photograph. One might venture, on the evidence of this swerving, lurching, ghostly video diary that, for Eggleston, time is chaos, against which still images and the rhythms of music are two forms of defense. Here, the subjects are aware of the camera's presence without being intimidated by it or even taking it seriously. “Put that thing away, Bill,” is the movie's constant refrain. But “Bill,” the ethnographer of that mysterious region called the South, homes in on art and artifacts, on family gatherings where familiarity and hostility are inseparable, on two geeks biting the heads off chickens, on juke joint philosophers and drag queens, on musicians amateur and professional, black and white—all of them grooving on their own sounds. Untroubled by the niceties of focus or any kind of propriety for that matter—at one point, the camera seems irresistibly drawn to the zippers on the pants of every man in the room—Eggleston is part of the scene he chronicles in close-up, and the undercurrent of anxiety it inspires in him motors Stranded in Canton. “This was back in the days when everyone liked Quaaludes,” he reminisces in voice-over. It's a movie that could leave you enervated or drive you as crazy as the people on the screen... " -- Amy Taubin

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