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Rooftop Cinema: The Grand Bizarre

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art 227 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Experimental filmmaker Jodie Mack delves deep into the world of fabric in her first feature-length work. Info


Where does she find that wonderful fabric? In the last decade, experimental filmmaker Jodie Mack has developed an instantly recognizable aesthetic, one that showcases her adoration for colorfully kaleidoscopic patterns in mixed media, stop-motion animation, and the tangibility of personal keepsakes and crafts. Mack's work has previously screened for Madison audiences in a five-film retrospective at the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival , and now we get to experience her latest work and first feature-length endeavor (at 60 minutes) at this special Rooftop Cinema presentation.

The Grand Bizarre, a play on the concept of a "bazaar," is a dialogue-less fabric travelogue that carries the aesthetic of an extended music video, framing the movements of the world's vibrant tapestries, which lay under our feet or may often be perceived as mere wallpaper. Mack's is a cinematic world draped and enveloped in literal fabric, as if it's also  the fabric of our being. Not only is this illustrated in the life of these textiles as they adorn, sway, and exuberantly dance through various locations like urban markets and pastoral meadows, but also their own production and relationship to paper geography and printed language.

The stark juxtaposition of scenes and amalgamation of materials is often like its representation of time; The Grand Bizarre uniquely harnesses time-lapse photography, synchronizing accelerated, cycling rhythms with an innovative approach to sound design. Mack’s score favors an unorthodox sequencing of glitch-electronic soundscapes, augmented by the manipulation of field-recorded bird calls, cricket stridulation, and the mechanical clicks and purrs of a sewing machine.

Mack's methods feel as hypnotic as they are intuitive. Live-action footage inventively mirrors hand-crafted animation, leaving viewers in awe of how the layered impressions were even achieved, blurring these distinctive realities. MMoCA's Rooftop setting, somewhere between the modern architecture and gardens captured in Mack's film, is an ideal environment for the experience, where images are in constant flux but always prepossessing. —Grant Phipps