Friday, December 8, 2023

“Whatever virtues a film like this might have, critical distance probably isn’t one of them.”

Christoph Büchel’s installation behind Mass MoCA’s yellow tarp covers.

Former Mass MoCA Director’s wife makes documentary film about Mass MoCA. What do you get? Well, apparently a not-very-objective take on the lawsuit and PR campaign that Mass MoCA aggressively launched against Swiss artist, Christoph Büchel.

Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s take:

As she [filmmaker Jennifer Trainer] charts the museum’s growth and reception in the larger art world, Trainer can’t afford to ignore the 2007 controversy in which the museum tried to show a terrifically elaborate and expensive artwork that Swiss artist Christoph Buchel angrily declared was not complete. She tries to present both sides of the story, in which both parties end up looking bad. But while MASS MoCA’s case is made in long interviews with museum director Joseph C. Thompson, neither Buchel nor outside critics like Roberta Smith of TheNew York Times are interviewed. (Thompson was Trainer’s husband, a seemingly relevant fact the doc omits.)

And then concludes,

But a onetime public relations professional looking to move into documentary filmmaking would probably be wise to start with subjects that never paid her salary.

According to The Berkshire Eagle, Ms. Trainer has published 10 cookbooks, so she certainly has experience cooking things up.

Full disclosure: I was involved in the Mass MoCA vs. Christoph Büchel appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, so I obviously see a problem with interviewing only one party and taking that party’s side in a multifaceted and complex dispute. – SMS



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