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Review: Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991)



The weirdest, strangest, and most violent interaction, in my opinion, is the interaction between two people in love. This is well supported by any art house or foreign film where either one or both (or three, or four, or six, if the subject matter is polyamorous, a staple of foreign cinema, no?) exhibit traits not too uncommon to serial killers. The result is an inverse of the romantic comedy. Rather than leaving one feeling warm and fuzzy, one leaves devoid a soul.

Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (“Lovers On A Bridge”)(1991) is an exercise of that violent interaction. Center to the story is Michele and Alex. Michele, a recent vagabond, wanders Paris sketching people and objects as her vision slowly deteriorates. Alex is a vagrant dependent on downers to help him sleep through the night on Pont-Neuf, a bridge in Paris that is going through reconstruction. They meet one night as Alex returns to the bridge to discover Michele in his sleeping spot. He is immediately enamored, and thus begins a relationship of codependency: Alex assists Michele walking through the streets of Paris and Michele assists Alex by providing companionship through the night. During the film, baggage is revealed that neither is aware of: Alex confronts a Cellist, who spurned Michele as a lover in the past, and threatens him to leave the station before Michele finds the Cellist (who Alex thinks Michele is still in love with), only for Michele to find the Cellist and kill him at his residence.

The relationship operates in the same condition as the bridge, strained, decayed, and held together by its own collapsing structure. So too, these damaged human beings collapse on each other, supporting their ruinous lives, but only barely. Between slow moving scenes of deep elation for each other (drunkenly dancing on Pont-Neuf as fireworks exploded in the background in celebration of the French Centennial, running naked, silhouetted, through a beach as Michele grabs Alex’s erection and runs) are moments of physical violence towards others and at each other.

A grueling display of pleasure and pain, Les Amants works slowly from one extreme of love to the other and back again.

Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (“Lovers On A Bridge”)(1991) is available through Netflix.


Zach Clark’s Top Albums of 2012

While music is an artform we rarely discuss in the pages of Composite, it’s hard to imagine the arguably most accesible of mediums of art is ever far from the creative practice. This is of course true for us at Composite. Traditionally while laying out issues, I tend to have an issue specific soundtrack that takes shape (as shared in this blog post about No 8 Aberration).

I dropped out of art school to play rock and roll music, and did so to pay the bills for several years, until I realized I was probably a better artist than musician, as my professors tried to tell me the first go around. [You were right Lin Fife... where ever you are] All this to say, I invest a significant amount of time into the auditory arts, and annually compile a list of my favorite records of this year. This is the first list I am posting to the Composite Blog, but past years can be found with fairly simple investigation via my sporadic Arts blog through my personal site.


Before I fully dive into it, I recognize there is a slight bias in the genres present. While I dabble in many areas, I find the most pleasure in the variety of music referred to quite vaguely as “Indie Rock”.


A full playlist of my favorite tracks off of the following albums is available HERE through Rdio.
[If you aren't using Rdio, especially in lieu of a alternative service like Spotify or Pandora, PLEASE give Rdio a shot. It's UI is fantastic, the sound quality is consistent, almost everyone I know in the music industry uses it as their preferred streaming service, and it's a cheap, really great way to pay a tiny portion towards the music you listen to.]


And now… My top 30 +1 records of the year.


11. Now, NowThreads
21. StarsThe North


Here at Composite, we are gearing up to put together our next issue, Interact!

So… in honor of that:

Go interact!

Square Dance


Quick update! More great art from Erik Peterson (No. 4 Doppelganger) with Happy Collaborationists! Square Dance, a choreographed dance between two forklifts, was at Daley Plaza last Friday.

Video Here, shot by us:

Square Dance by Erik Peterson

This is a part of the larger series of works under the title Industry of the Ordinary. Their next performance is next Friday, November 9 at 5:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center, in the Claudia Cassidy Theater. There will be a screening of Pete & Dyl: The Documentary, by Composite artist Peter Frederiksen (No. 2 The Gaze) as part of Pete and Dyl, with Dylan Jones and James Kozar. Please go check it out!

Images from Square Dance:


On Our Way to Tomorrow: the MCA Soap Opera

A couple weeks ago, I ventured down to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA) to watch a screening of On Our Way to Tomorrow and conversation with one of our artists, Kirsten Leenaars (No. 3 Kith and Kin). Her video series is a thirteen episode fictional narrative focusing on the ‘real life drama’ of an art museum, presented as a soap opera. As part of the MCA exhibition Without You I am Nothing—which ran in 2010-2011, and where the works of art are meant to be interacted with—the creative process of Kirsten’s filming became entwined with the staff and visitors of the museum.

The main characters are the staff of the museum, each filling their actual role, but put on a persona and ambitions that (may or may not) be true to their personality. But like any good soap opera, there also is some extra spice, such as the manipulative ghost of the museum, a bathroom janitor/fortune teller, murder, and unexpected twists and romances. Yet this all takes place inside of a museum exhibit, so all ambitions and arguments are placed in that context. For example, two curators argue between themselves as one person’s exhibit got loud with applause after a performance, interrupting a gallery talk that the other curator had been giving. They then get into an argument about what kind of art and art viewing is better, performative and interactive, or quiet and introspective.

Overall the series is very tongue in cheek, poking fun at (and at the same time showing admiration for) both the genre of the soap opera and the museum as an institution. The soap opera was never scripted beyond a general guideline of what the conversation should be about, leaving the participants, both staff and museum goers, to shape the outcome of the work itself. When Kirsten was asked if the process of making the film or the final product was her main goal of the work, she replied that the end film was always her goal, and the interactive form of the filming was new to her, but she plans to continue making work in a similar vein.

I am glad to share this work with you, Composite readers, as we gear up for our winter issue, Interact. How would you define interactive artwork? Is it merely an object you can touch or walk upon, or a work that you directly influence the end result of?

Kirsten’s website:

On Our Way to Tomorrow, Episode 1 (the whole series can be gotten to through here):

Kirsten’s work in Kith and Kin:

Family Swim, attempts to synchronize, the actual video for what is talked about in Kith and Kin:

Review: This Is How You Lose Her (2012)

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? …we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”

-Franz Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 January 1904)

Reading a Junot Diaz book, you need to set aside some time. This isn’t something to take lightly, this is a commitment. Put down the book from time to time, take a deep breath, walk around to ground yourself. This is only going to get heavier. Lumps will form in your throat, a panic attack or two might arise, but in the end, however, it is incredibly worth it.

This Is How You Lose Her is Junot Diaz’s newest work that is filled with his familiar underpinnings of Dominican identity, masculinity, fatherlessness, and a tang of bittersweetness. Lose Her follows Yunior from impoverished childhood through adulthood as he moves from comic books to juggling women which leads to the loss of someone incredibly special that leaves him clawing at her ephemeral image through other women. In between, vignettes of Dominican life in America illustrates racism, desperation, isolation, and longing for something meaningful, highlighting Yunior’s internal as well as external battle.

Yunior is an incredibly flawed, but redeemable, man. There is an earnest need for a connection with someone that when it is within arms reach, like clockwork, he stumbles upon himself only to repeat the devastating ritual again. And again. And again. A cheater’s heart looking for love. While one is tempted to judge, empathy trumps finger wagging and one cannot help but feel for Yunior as he struggles to unbury himself from the graves he has dug himself in.

Diaz is no amateur to building damn good characters or stories. Diaz’s previous endeavor The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and in 2012 he was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant.”


This Is How You Lose Her is available in print and Kindle editions through




Brandon Proff… On Denver, Design, and Beer…


Zach talked to Brandon Proff (No 9. Function) about his work, beer, and Denver.  Here’s what he had to say.

Composite Arts: Graphic design is such a loose term these days. In it’s most academic terms, it’s visual communication, but in practical terms it’s grid design, it’s type layout for printed informational sources, it’s navigation mapping and coding for interactive mediums. Your most recent collection of your work, featured in Composite No 9 Function, didn’t contain any information in language form to communicate relying more on digital photo minipulation. As a designer of album packaging, apparel, and even a day job in front end web interface design, you appreciate the difficulty of wearing multiple hats accuratly. Where do you see your place in Graphic Design and where do you see it going forward? Is one general approach and classification a viable option?

Brandon Proff: I think that it all depends what’s in the cards person to person. Experience leads me to believe that being viable requires being able to evolve. I have always been more of a kind-of-good-at-a-bunch-of-things than a really-good-at-one-thing-kind-of-guy. As the years have gone by I maybe regret not focusing more on a specific medium or technique, but I am happy with all the work I have put in at this point. We are our harshest critics after all.

One unforeseen result of my schizophrenic portfolio is that I think if I want to take my career in another more specific direction that I have many good starting points. Overall though, I would like to wind back on the volume of work I do and only take on projects I am really excited and inspired by. It’s happening more and more.


CO: Due to your past career paths, much of your design portfolio is dedicated to designing for the music industry via apparel and packaging. Obviously this type of work is artistic and has aesthetic merit, but often there is a goal to set a mood, almost creating a brand. How do you approach the task of creating a product counter part to an existing creative endeavor? Once completed, how do you think this work should be approached in relation to traditional art vernacular

BP: Most of the work I’ve done album wise, the band or artist was interested in doing something completely different, so I more or less had a blank canvas to work with. The nice thing about the music/art paradigm is that if you are the next artist in line to get to work with a band, you don’t really need to reference the previous artist’s work to make your own. In instances where you are continuing the relationship with the band on a new project, your mark on their brand is already there so you can work with that style or familiarity as much as you’d like and that incorporation can really help the cohesiveness of it all.

I tend to not really discuss graphic design in music with traditional art vernacular. Part of that might be out of not having very high regard for most art and design in music, but also that it serves a different purpose. Of course an album cover or a movie poster can be discussed in artistic terms because whoever made them was hoping to elicit an emotional response, and that is what most art hopes to accomplish. Everything in its place.


CO: Aside from your design work, you have your hand in  other pots, including a quite large kettle; what is Our Mutual Friend?

BP: Our Mutual Friend is a little brewery that some friends and I started in Denver. Most breweries order their ingredients (malted grain, hops, yeast) from a distributor and call it good. It’s pretty much the only way breweries do things because of the volumes they need and most of them make incredible beers with it so I have no complaints. Our goal is to try and get as many of the processes between the plants in the fields and the beer in your glass happening in house. We buy raw grain and hope to eventually be malting it all on site. We are currently roasting all the grain in our beers and have seven proprietary malted barley and wheat roasts we do ourselves.

Eventually down the road we would love to have a farm in Colorado that is growing the grain and hops we use. A guy can dream! For now we would like to accomplish sourcing all our ingredients in Colorado to keep our footprint as small as possible.


CO: Denver is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. It has been a beer Mecca for decades, and it is now starting to turn heads within its culinary scene.  There constantly seems to be another hit band coming out of the Mile High City. What’s it like to be beginning a new endeavor like Our Mutual Friend now in a place like Denver?

BP: It keeps us on our toes for sure. Part of this big boom in breweries in Denver (22 at last count) is that there are a lot of amazing people making great beer everywhere you turn. I think that there is still market share for little guys like us, but you have to be sure your product is perfect so that people WANT to support you. It’s easy to be mediocre in a small town where you’re the only one offering a product or service. Denver requires you to prove yourself and I love that challenge. Having fun, building a community, being relevant are all things we strive to do.


CO: With the boom Denver is experiencing, it can become overwhelming. If a Composite reader was to plan a long weekend in Denver, what must they do and see?

BP: The Clyfford Still Museum is a new personal favorite. I also recommend the 2up for some awesome 80′s arcade game action. As far as food goes, we have a Momofuku inspired restaurant called Uncle that is really great and Euclid Hall has my favorite menu item in town (the Bone Marrow). I definitely recommend Our Mutual Friend for beer but also check out TRVE brewing, River North brewing, and HogsHead brewing for many different styles of fantastic beer. Denver is a very walkable city but we also have rental bikes all over town if that’s your thing.


CO: Any other things you want to mention?

BP: Thanks for having me on here! If anyone has any more questions for me, I can be emailed at

Out of Site: Public Performance in Chicago’s Wicker Park

This past Friday, October 12th, Kara and I went to the busy six corners intersection in Wicker Park to witness five performance pieces curated by future contributor (for Issue No. 10 Interact) Happy Collaborationists. The curated performances, called Simultaneous Narrative, was a good variety of unexpected, edible, and poignant. I can imagine that the experience would be even more magical for the people who didn’t see it coming.

Here are the performances we saw:

Erik Peterson (No. 4 Doppelganger contributor) “Soft Palate”

Strawberry flavored ice cream in the shape of the human soft palate (mouth, teeth, tongue and throat) were sold from an ice cream cart for only twenty-five cents.

Claire Ashley “Ruddy Udder Dance”

This psychedelic conga line had to squish its fluffy way through some narrow sidewalks.

Shane Ward “One Wheel No Axle, AKA Part 1″

Shane Ward pushes and rides in a full scale replica of the Price is Right wheel.

Marcus Vinicius “Fragile,” performed by Andrew Meyler

A guy wrapped in “fragile” tape would normally seem gimmicky, but this memorial performance seems to take on more meaning.

Jesus Mejia and Ruth “.00011048 miles”

These collaborators laid the length of the street, tracing bodies along the way. Looked like one weird crime scene.


Once again I will introduce some work by a lovely artist I met at my Ragdale residency. Tisa Batchelder is a mainly a musician, but she is currently working on a collage project. She has been making a collage every day for 304 days and posts them on her blog, Though the project may seem deceptively simple, being able to see someone’s daily ritual makes it personal. It’s clear that the compositions have become more sophisticated over time. Collage-a-day is a reminder of why collage is such a neat medium: the way it flattens space (especially when viewed on a computer screen), and the way disparate scraps can be brought together in one composition.

Check out Tisa’s past collages, and check out new ones as she approaches Day 365:

Music: Xavier’s Happy/Yay/Bliss/Fun/Fun/Fun!

The sun is gone (at least here in the midwest), prevent SAD with these sweet beats procured  from bearded BMX dudes with sweet skills. (Click image to open Spotify)