"The Wednesday Crowd"
In the midst of last week’s focus on Joe Vigil’s Dog, commenter Jones inquired as to a stray mention of The Baby of Mâcon, a Peter Greenaway movie from 1993. It got me nostalgic, I confess – when I was 14, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover was one of the four or five notorious VHS tapes constantly traded around the lunchroom, and I was perfectly happy at the time to (ha!) catalog the director in my ‘big tent’ approach to horror, a liberal enough perspective to accommodate both that most populist of Greenaway’s features and various ultraviolence-tinged superguy comics such as The Crow, and surely Faust, had I access to it at the time.
Little did I know that a more immediate connection was present: earlier this month, on December 3rd, the very day I was visiting NYC for a certain Comics and Graphics Festival, the Netherlands-based Greenaway was also in town at the Park Avenue Armory for the opening of Leonardo’s Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway (running through January 6th), the American debut of his ongoing Ten Classic Paintings Revisited project, a touring installation series dedicated to explication of various masterpieces with the stated aim of promoting visual literacy to a public disinclined toward substantive engagement with certain storied arts. This involves the presentation of a digital “clone” of the painting in question (or, in rare cases, the original work) surrounded by light and music and voices, and blasted with projected images that emphasize or excerpt pertinent details.
I didn’t get to the the New York show — which, title notwithstanding, apparently combines elements from European shows on Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Veronese’s The Wedding At Cana — but photos reveal a small chamber of clear panels to ensconce the audience in projection data, seated against glowing elements out of some faux-Biblical Tron, in a manner more specifically faux-Biblical than Tron manages on its own. Indeed, this whole effort strikes me as the first Peter Greenaway joint that could realistically prompt the Walt Disney Company to back up the proverbial dump truck of cash for a semi-permanent iteration in one of the edutainment-minded corners of its theme parks. Applicable catalog materials, however, reveal the whole thing as a typically idiosyncratic venture for the artist.
Also, there is a comics connection, and not just because the planned library of ten accounts for every Ninja Turtle save for Donatello. No, in light of recent mentions of illuminated manuscripts and the religious element in comics, I will argue that Peter Greenaway is, in fact, the creator of 2010’s most secret graphic novel.