A sparse single-channel black-andwhite video devoid of any cinematic “teasers,”
it features a deadpan cast of characters who perform little sketches for the camera that muse on the decline of the avant-garde experimental fi lm movement in the ’70s and ’80s. The result is a tongue-in-cheek fictional “theory” which scrutinizes and parodies the very medium in which Land works, offering a rare form of artistic self-criticism with humor and wit. Language and text, and more importantly the notion of word play, have been an integral part of Land’s poststructuralist works, and this can be seen in his latest film, Dialogues or A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind (2007-2009), an often hilarious series of largely autobiographical short scripted films which are based on a combination of real life experiences and fiction from 1985, acted out
by an eclectic cast of all-American characters. Two of the actors are cast in the role of Land himself as a young man. The work weaves together many of the artist’s interests, from sex and desire to folklore myth and religion, and the history of film itself. Structured as a series of 36 consecutive short episodes of human social exchange which hark back to the aesthetics of ’70s and ’80s TV and soap operas,
with descriptive titles and credits in between and a great soundtrack of songs from the era to boot, each episode centers around the psychopathology of everyday life, and evokes human fantasy, desire, insecurity and failure. A dry wit and distinctive, downbeat sense of humor make the work of Owen Land unique. He reinstates the importance of humor and play — so lacking in much experimental film and contemporary art in general — as a serious intellectual pursuit. Fresh, eloquent
and genuinely non-conformist, Land’s work claims a territory in avant-garde fi lm that is entirely his own.