George Kuchar

January 1997

The author:

Twin brothers Mike and George Kuchar, born in New York in 1942, participated in the most popular underground film scene in the United States. From the start in the beginning of the 1960’s, Mike and George used film as a base, using its iconography intensively, especially the low-budget production methods of Hollywood B-movies, the films of Roger Corman, and the melodramas of Douglas Sirk. They themselves have influenced other American filmmakers like John Waters, Tim Burton, Paul Morrisey and Paul Bartell. After an extremely productive period of joint work which includes hundreds of titles filmed in Super8, George Kuchar discovered and moved toward a use of domestic video somewhere between a diary and fiction.

In his videos, Kuchar constructs a precise tapestry in which the immediacy and spontaneity of the amateur filming adds to the appearance of “no-talent actors” - people who many times he himself has spurred to act- who present a caricatured reflection of their everyday roles in life. George recreates his own particular universe from the experience of his intimate environment, everything which surrounds him: things, people, situations and the sacred moments of family life and its own tabus. He approaches his friends and loved ones crudely, like in a reality show, but also with the innocence and tenderness of a home video.

His videos are guided, normally, by his presence, a rusty voice which seduces the spectator, hypnotizes him/her, transporting him/her beyond the routine displayed, his/her own portrait, his/her gaze, made evident by the presence of the 8mm camcorder. His videos reveal the dark, hidden part of day to day life, the forgotten, the unrecognized the past itself, the memory of origins which constantly threaten to surprise and wipe out the present.

The Creeping Crimson, 13', 1987.

It´s Halloween and the Kuchar brothers get together to visit their sick mother in a hospital north of New York. George pans the room with his camera, showing us the objects given as gifts to make the wait more pleasant, and uses the same tone of voice which other times disturbs the spectator, this time to create a cozy and serene atmosphere. The images of autumn colors, children in costume on the streets, the ears of corn and the pumpkinsmake up the imaginary through which Kuchar takes us back to his childhood, and to brief extracts from Hitchcock´s Psycho.

Let the Creeping Crimson Creep in Peace. Weather Diary 3, 24', 1988.

George spends a few days in El Reno (Oklahoma) and doesn´t seem to be worried about the passage of time. He dedicates all of his attention to listening the weather reports on the radio and TV. In his typically indifferent tone he describes the most unsuspected details of his disshevelled motel room, an aluminunm foil lampshade over the ceiling lightbulb, a light switch which when turned on affects the color of the TV picture, a poster of San Francisco Bay, the city he lives in. Moments of euforia and images of nature in bloom, backed by music which creates an epic tone, followed by moments of monotonous contemplation of the rain; visits to his friend Gloria turned into infomercials for her cosmetics store, her son instantly frightened by George´s electronic gaze; wet dogs awaiting the arrival of a tornado.

Holidaze, 13', 1993.

It´s Christmas, and George goes back to the postproduction of home video to show a clouded document of the festivities. The kitchen and food, the tree and gift-giving make up the veil of pixelated and overexposed low resolution images. George Kuchar, in this video, uses the great baggage of references of typical Christmas iconography, always bathed in a dense atmosphere, somewhere between nostalgia, suspense and intuited horror.

Cult of the Cubicles, 46', 1987.

A working trip to New York turns into a look at the past. Suddenly, George finds himself submerged in the oppressive atmosphere of his mother´s home. George, obedient and submissive to his mother, shows us her image lovingly but accompanies it with horror movie music. The macabre lighting insinuates childhood games in the periphery of consciousness. Maliciously, through the camcorder he makes the most private moments public: he, himself, resting in his childhood bed, crowned by sacred images, his own pictures, pulled from old drawers, nearer and more menacing than ever. George acts, simulating the exploration of his body as he did it years before, in the same cubicle in which the weight of punishment and sin were inevitably present.

  • George Kuchar