(noun) nonchalant absurdity with a dash of embarrassment.

(verb) to be shark bitten.

(adverb) in a manner that is nonchalantly absurd and embarrassing.

01 October 2011

Jem Cohen: Little Flags (1991-2000) in "September 11" at MoMA PS1

"At moments, we sense or glimpse the twin towers. They lurk, gigantic, for example, in the background of Jem Cohen’s “[Little]Flags,” an eerie film of the ticker-tape parade celebrating the end of the Persian Gulf war, in 1991, that shows us lower Broadway covered with paper, as it would be after the towers fell."- Roberta Smith via NYTIMES

[From museum plaque]
Jem Cohen
American, b. 1962
Little Flags
Super 8mm film transferred to DVD (b/w, sound); 6:00 minutes

In the summer of 1991, filmmaker Jem Cohen attended a ticker-tape parade in New York, organized along lower Broadway, to celebrate the successful conclusion of the Gulf War. The thousands of troops, including those from seventeen of the allied countries that had fought in the coalition to repel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, walked uptown from Battery Park on what was known, even then, as the “canyon of heroes,” passing a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Operation Welcome Home involved more than six thousand tons of ticker tape and confetti, which were dumped down from buildings lining the route.

In 2000, Cohen assembled the footage he shot that day into Little Flags, a short film that may now seem at first glance to have been made on September 11, 2001. People trudge through the paper-filled streets around the trade towers, passing police barricades; debris floats down from on high. In light of the patriotic fervor that followed 9/11, the chanting of “U-S-A” does not seem out of place. Visually linking the first Iraq war to the terrorist attacks that would occur a decade later, Cohen’s film serves as an uncanny premonition not simply of the destruction of the trade towers, but also of the second invasion of Iraq launched in response.

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