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Common Carrier

  • Arts + Literature Laboratory 2021 Winnebago Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

James N. Kienitz Wilkins' latest film is a heightened, disorienting (in a good way) surreal multimedia experience. Info/tix


This second-ever screening at the new Mills Folly Microcinema at Arts + Literature Laboratory is an experimental feature, Common Carrier. Brooklyn-based James N. Kienitz Wilkins calls his latest project a "cinematic mixtape," an audio-visual bridge between traditional narrative and collagist art installations. For 78 minutes, Common Carrier saturates viewers with kaleidoscopic fragments as translucent objects and figures fold into and are positioned to mirror others while talk-radio chatter and R&B playlists blare and drift in and out of focus. The overall effect is to evoke a sense of inundation and detachment, to echo how we interact with, disconnect, and shuffle between so-called technological conveniences of modern life.

That is the collagist-art aspect. The narrative aspect follows the lives of several anonymous actors and artists, but the lives of aspiring Robin and Abdul are particularly paramount. While the film’s many disparate threads don’t always coalesce or even try to, there’s a deeper truth they’re all scratching at. The film may inevitably be seen as a tortured exploration of identity, but Wilkins finds poetic revelations and juxtapositions in the disordered and excessive bombardment of brands, political bulletins, personal narratives, and taste-making appeals for attention. Whether referencing human and ornithological heredity or eBay, the film is always able to either suggest or present a disorienting depth we might not be able to grasp in a more sedate presentation. —Grant Phipps

Earlier Event: August 29
Nerd Nite 59 (free)
Later Event: August 31
Shitty Barn Experimental Night