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Film review on Square

Updated on September 16, 2018
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Keanu Arcadio is an artist-writer. His writing covers art reviews, art exhibitions, interviews, film reviews, trends in art and odd prose

Image of Performance of Square

Performance during dining scene
Performance during dining scene

Contemporary art is a damn square and this is why Square matters.

This is not a film review, but a dive straight into the gut of this film, the tumultuous climate, a thing of maddening suffering. This scene is allegorically important in the subversion of power. Here do we not see the suffering artist unleash his Id, his accumulated years of suffrage, in a wild “fierce” performance to the opulent crowd, of course set in gilded walls and shot in the sense of a stage, because it is a stage, the whole farce of being in the realm of the contemporary world, is nothing but a mimesis of any chapter of remembering the past.

What is most profound about this scene is the interaction between the performer and the “established” artists, who depicted from his incongruent impotent artist talk early on in the film, is tested by the performer, prodded and with so much contention that this established artists has no rhythm of how to act, the spud ends up fleeing after an increase of confrontations, as predictable of any too finely groomed gentrified artist. And it is important to state the profundity of this performance as it is Rimbaud as it is Baudelaire as it is a glob of phlegm hurled at the superfluous opulent mass that mush art into decorative social ornaments. It goes beyond my taste and veneration for this performance happening, even though, yes, it is only on the screen and of fiction, but how it is inarguably mandatory that this level, this limitless volatility is achieved in art today, this is the only way to weed out the cornflake-cheese-muesli artists and break the stage for the real artists, for the artist artist to bring a vehement art worth all the spilling babel press releases.

And now let me comment on the actual brilliance of the performance itself, the directing and the decision to break decorum. The end of the performance, mwah, I kiss my thumb and forefinger to the screen Italian-fashion. What risk! What audaciousness I have not seen in a piece of art in too long a damn time. Not only did Ruben Östlund decide to rub fist against petty political correctness but showed guts and valour to lead the performance to a layer of rape, to unleash on the screen man’s primal carnal desires for the sake of art even in the heated climate of the MeToo movement. Was this his criticisms on the movement or a test of the viewer’s sensitivity to moral trend? I flick the question away.

Lastly, and I am in full comprehension that I am only focusing on the performance, and I am doing so because the film itself does fall flat like a bottle of coke left opened a year. But I must end this veneration repeating myself on the dominance of this performance over the whole film; the performance itself could have been the whole film, keep reference to Bourriaud and the promotional scandal, bam, film done. Allegorical accuracy, though slightly stereotyped but only on an aesthetic level, is what humiliates the conventions of the art world, which is locked as universal truth, in this film, to Debord, The Society Of The Spectcle, 1967, to Pietro Longhi’s painting of a Rhinoceros, 1751. Socially the scene is sharply apt and the director has translated the structure of “contemporary” petty bourgeoisie society to culture with the eyes of Proust and an aged fist of Ali (full tumult was lacking to trigger an actual cultural revolution). And how there could not be more of a demand for a cultural revolution at this mundane slog of the century! Fight Club tried and stirred a rippled, Ruben Östlund lingered around but with the social settings chosen and a safe sense of clinical cinematography as deployed by Dennis Villeneuve, Yorgos Lanthimos, most minimalist food posters, et cetera; there was only so much contention of cultural difference at his disposal to trigger a mighty R with the social conditions of his depicted setting being beyond gentrified and timid.

At the final scene the performer is, finally, attacked by a morally awoken extra, attacked to finally after, demi a minute of the victim, rape-victim, being ravaged. What follows is mass behaviour; the idle potatoes in tuxedos follow suit after the exemplar. The performer is pummelled into blindness as a flood of men follow suit like a line of pigeons chasing a trail of crumbs. The opulent mass have had their hunger fed, they have wilted and tasted the artist and now wince in his presence, they pummel him in mass as a symbol of social redundancy, the galore of the performer’s eccentricities are now the polar of opposite and the culture savages throw him to the underworld while the established artist sits thumbs lost in rectum on a gilded stool sustained by his agreeable disposable conformism.

Bravo.

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