National Philistine: Videos By Paul Chan

The Cinerama-like Happiness (Finally) After 35,000 Years of CivilizationAfter Henry Darger and Charles Fourier (2001, 19 min.), originally made for an installation, and Now Let Us Praise Famous Leftists (2000, 4 min.) are provocative and cantankerous conceptual works employing computer animation. They’re both ripe for explication, so it’s fortunate that former Chicagoan (and Reader staffer) Paul Chan will be on hand to discuss them. But the most valuable work here is Baghdad in No Particular OrderPart I (51 min.), shot in that city in late 2002 and early 2003a freewheeling, inquisitive portrait of some of the people whose lives we’re supposed to be improving, with particular emphasis on their art and music. As visual constructions, all three videos are highly original. (JR)

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