Sam Falls: Final Forever

Sam Falls has been busy over the last couple of years. In 2012 alone he had no less than six solo shows internationally and was included in nine group shows; his double-headed Los Angeles exhibition at International Art Objects and M+B in February 2012 was followed by ANOTHER show at M+B in September.

If, like me, you are on the fence about Falls’ blithely colourful prints, photographs and sculptures, you might want to check out his current exhibition at Michael Benevento gallery. Over the course of a month, Benevento is screening four films – one a week, projected on a freestanding screen in the gallery. The works are the first four from Falls’ series Final Forever and are each made in the same way: he appropriates one of Andrei Tarkovsky’s famously lingering shots and couples it with a section of a song by the Velvet Underground. Both the footage and the audio track are then seamlessly looped.

If it sounds simple, it is. But the effect adds up to far more than one might expect. The first in the series, which I saw, combines a scene from “Ivan’s Childhood” (1962), laden with smoky homoerotic tension, with the Velvet Underground’s “Beginning to See the Light” (1969). While Lou Reed endlessly repeats his question, ‘How does it feel to be loved?’ the two men in the picture sit, lost in their thoughts, going nowhere. One of them smokes a cigarette that never goes out.

What does this have to do with the rest of Falls’ work, which orbits remotely around the medium of photography? Time, according to Falls. As he says in the press release, “the ability to take something quite simple and turn it into something more representative of our condition between life and death—or just beauty and decay—without altering the form, is what’s at the heart of my work. What becomes visible here and in a lot of my work is how meaningful time is.”