Love was in the air at Aurora Picture Show on Valentine’s Day as Chas Bowie returned to curate a romantic evening of video.
(Last winter, he curated the well-received Spiking the Punch: Wrestling Night at Aurora.) Designed to “draw people together and create affectionate feelings,” When the Moon Hits Your Eye is a collage of bits and pieces, all reflecting good things about relationships. The Sweet Girls — an all-girl social aide and pleasure club — handed out candy, while the Promise Keepers played love songs before the program.
A Houstonian since 1999, Bowie received his BFA from University of North Texas (via Lubbock), and was with FotoFest until last year. He now works at Texas Gallery “doing unglamorous things” while making art, writing and curating Valentine video shows during his spare time. Bowie claims he struggled to find video clips promoting positive, sincere representations of love. But using found footage from widely diverse sources, he has managed to cobble together a charming repertoire of hugs, kisses … and more.
Beginning with the “He-Man Woman-Haters Club” from The Little Rascals, Bowie’s program ranges from romantic comedy to real-life fetishes, animation, standup comedy and animal sex (snails). The documentary sequences — Sick: the Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist and Sherman’s March — were for me the truest portrayals of contemporary love. Performance artist Bob Flanagan‘s 15-year relationship with dominatrix Sheree Rose involved a signed contract giving her “total control over [his] mind and body.” In Sherman’s March, Ross McElwee‘s tendency to desire what he can’t have reflects a deep lack of commitment — the opposite end of the spectrum from Flanagan’s maniacal determination. Richard Pryor‘s standup monologue on heartbreak also rings true, with its definitive male/female perspectives on coping with pain and loss.
The animated segments of the program provide romantic wisdom from Beavis and Butthead and the Peanuts gang. In the latter, Schroeder’s hunched self-absorption over his piano elicits a tantrum from Lucy much like my own secret reaction to indifference. Beavis and Butthead take a funny trip to a video dating service and demonstrate the crass immaturity of adolescence for which they’re famous (it frightens me that there may actually be boys out there who believe in Beavis and Butthead’s stereotypes of women).
The remaining snippets range from the films True Stories and She’s Gotta Have It to music videos and footage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Bowie does a good job illustrating the different elements of love, and love lost, in his montage of available video material. A nice alternative to chocolates and roses.