The Michigan Daily.
Wednesday, February 10, 1982
a cosmic trip
By Jill Beiswenger
IF YOU ENJOY contemplating the
unfathomable secrets of the universe,
then you wll find Arcanum I-XIII, a
series of prints by Robert Rauschen-
berg on display at the Alice Simsar
Gallery, a source of delight.,
Rauschenberg has said, "Painting
relates to both art and life. Neither can
be made. I try to act in that gap bet-
ween the two." Using a combination of
silk screen, silk and paper collage;
water and hand coloring, he has ex-
plored a new area of that gap; that
place.where the arcanum, the secret of
His intriguing, confounding and
humorous sense -of composition con-
tinues to exhibit itself, but this series
has more delicacy than any of the
works which earned him the notoriety
as the "enfant terrible" of the Modern
Art scene back in the 1950's.
Works such as "Bed" and
"Monogram" had the effect of drawing
attention in the manner that Marcel
Duchamp was referring to, when he
said that if a painting didn't shock, it
wasn't worth painting. The Arcanum
series are luminous and mysterious in
Rauschenberg said that he has "a
peculiar kind of focus, I tend to see
everything in sight." Arcanum I-XIII
is a continuation of this inclusive ap-
proach. Like the result of using a wide-
angle lens, the images here tend to be
somewhat blurred. This does not mean
that focus is unattainable, but it must
As in "Rodeo Palace" of 1975-6, (a
panel containing 3 hinged doors which
allow the spectator a choice: open the
doors or leave them shut), these prints
invite one to look closely. They are
seductive, translucent curtains behind
which glimpses of ideas escape total
As the spectator seeks to push aside
the )ayers, it becomes apparent that it
is entirely possible to penetrate beyond
the backing of the frame, the wall on
which it hangs, the structure of the
building, on and on into the make-up of
Kate Jackson and Michael Ontkean: Not
and kisses in 'Making Love.'
things, culminating, not surprisingly, in
moments which offer a chance at per-
sonal disclosure. Meaning exists within
Rauschenberg may not acknowledge
that he has been directly influenced by
Marcel Duchamp, but Duchamp's idea
that it is the spectator who completes
the creative cycle by a kind of "inner
osmosis" would apply very nicely to
From the beginning, Rauschenberg
has let common materials such as
newspaper print, magazine adver-
tisements, and sports stills
"collaborate" in his works. Arcanum II
features a pair of basketball players,
one of whom holds his arms outstret-
ched in a graceful hula gesture, while a
player from the opposing team appears
behind him in what looks like a ballet
The two show up again in Arcanum V,
but are upside down instead of merely
being backwards. The newsprint is
printed in reverse throughout the
series. You would need a mirror (i.e.:
an instrument of self revelation) to
read team names, or what the totals are
on the faces of the calculators who hold
Arcanum VII up like pillars on a por-
All of the athletes are at a point of ex-
tension/contraction where the outcome
of their movement is unresolved. Will
the partially obliterated outfielder in
Arcanum IV catch the unseen ball he is
striving toward? Is the boxer, hidden
behind a sheer plaid fabric, intending a
right hook or is he protecting his chin
with his left?
The athletes aren't the only images
operating in the fluxing gap. In every
print there is some image which
provides the organizing energy for the
composition. In Arcanum VI, Jesus is
the central image; in Arcanum VIII it's
the point of extreme tension in a rope
linking a cow pony to its rider and
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This central image is not always at
the print's center. Some of them are so
overlaid with material that the eye
seeks an easier place to begin at. In Ar-
canum, the clearest image is a hand
with forefinger extended (as if securing
a knot) in the right-hand corner. Taking
this as an indication that the print is in-
deed right-side-up, the eye moves back
around the images like the silver ball
heading for points in a pinball game.
Rauschenberger, skillful interplayer of
horizontals and verticals that he is,
makes sure that every image is a pivot.
Mobility over stability is emphasized.
The Arcanum I-XIII series might be,
considered as attempts to visualize the
cosmic games between universal prin-,
ciples. They are objects of contem-
plation; icons. In them the black and'
the white, the two opponents (without
the two of them there would be no cause
for the games) support each other in a
dance that is the kind of spiraling
movement common to plant life. and
What is so marvelous about these prints
is that they draw the spectator toward
an awareness that is somewhere bet-
ween sense and knowledge. John Cage'
called Rauschenberg's "White Pain-
tings," "airports for the lights, shadows
The awareness that takes off and
comes back home again here is not
directly translatable into mundane
language. But it sure is exhilarating to
linger out there among the signals.
Making Love 'isn't
'what you 're thinking
By Richard Campbell
Twentieth Century Fox recently
whisked me out to sunny Los
Angeles for a press preview of
several movies, and a chance to in-
terview the stars and directors.
Arthur Hiller's Making Love isn't a
traditional Hollywood romance. It is
certainly in a different league than his
earlier-Love Story. The film is the story
of a happily married man who decides
that he is gay and wants to get outiof his
Michael Ontkean stars in.. the movie
as a man who finds himself in-
creasingly troubled by feelings he
doesn't understand. He is drawn to
Bart, a writer unable to handle any kind
of continuing relationship. This is the'
love triangle at the heart of Making
For the most part the movie is simply
a study in relationships. Barry Sandler,
the author of Making Love, says, "I was
attempting to deal. with three people
reevaluating . their perceptions of
romance. A lot of us base our concepts
of romance on the movies, and they're
false . . . they're illusory." .
Of course the main idea of the film is
that there is nothing wrong in a man
making the decision to be gay. Sandler
says, "I definitely set out to shatter
stereotypes. . . It's a pretty daring risk
for a major studio to put out this kind of
Alan Adler, producer, comments, "I
don't think the film is ahead of its time.
I think it's on target.
Quite obviously this film is going to
cause some controversy, not only
among people who would like to cen-
sure it, but among the general audien-
ce. "We've been surprised that many
young men came out (of the previews)
liking it. More young women came out
uneasy," says Adler.
Dan Melnick, executive producer,
sees this film as breaking new ground.
"I hope it will have a positive effect. I
hope it will allow us to try new things.",
he says. As for a major studio finally
producing a movie of this kind he adds,
"Corporate management is always
going to be more conservative than in-
dividual entrepeneurs." Whatever
happens, as far as the distribution of
the film is concerned, Adler remarks
"there will be no backing away from
Why would Ontkean take on such a
controversial role? "Both my parents
were actors, so for me it's just another
"The acting process is always an en-
joyable one-even if it's real hard. Ac-
ting is to climb into the psyche of
another character. When I look at
something I've done . . that's not
To prepare himself for the role On-
tkean stayed on the Twentieth Century
Studio lot to get the feeling of isolation.
He and co-star Harry Hamlin also
screened a lot of films that dealt with
male-male relationships. Ontkean says
of this type of movie, "One of the pit-
falls is that there's a certain expec-
tation you have coming into the
movie . . . every eye-contact is
examined. Every contact is read even
larger because of that expectation."
Hamlin says of his character, "He is
narcissistic, and an example of a
thoroughly modern man. He is not
willing to make commitments cause
he's got too many options. His being
gay was not intrinsic to his character."
Because his character was involved in
the gay community, Hamlin visited gay
bars. "In this role there was a lot to
discover. I saw a cross-section of gay
life that I never knew existed.", he
Concerning the love scenes, Hamlin
says, "We did not rehearse those
scenes. We wanted them to be natural.
We were unprepared and nervous. The
scene was shot twice and we printed the
first take ... The scenes were as dif-
ficult as any love scenes are." Ontkean
added, "I asked him if he wouldn't
smoke cigars on the day I kissed him.
Other than that we had no problems."
Ian Dury-'Lord Upminster'
It's sad that Ian Dury should end up
such a liability on his first solo effort.
Where we usually expect clumsily
charming-if not downright insight-
ful-ranting from him, all we get this
time around is unredeemably simple-.
minded rhyming. It's impossible to tell
who should be more embarrassed by
the verbal content of this album, the
listener or Dury himself.
There are, of course, some nice
lyrical touches-such as "Red (Letter),
-but they are a lot less ,memorable
than the more unseemly moments, such
as "Trust (Is a Must)." Lyrics to this
poetic paean include:
"Beans in your jeans.
Beans in your jeans.
Beans in your jeans.-
Your jeans have beans."
Next verse? Glad you asked.
"Luck is a duck.
Luck is a duck.
Luck is a duck.
Love is a duck."
This LP is not completely for naught,
though. If Dury's involvement could be
extricated, this would probably be one
of the most impressive albums df the
year. It's the first time Chas Jankel has
worked with Dury since Jankel left The
Blockheads to record his brilliant self-
titled solo album. Although one would
think Dury would benefit from re-
teaming with Jankel (it would have to
be better then The Blockheads' Jankel-
less album, Laughter), Jankel's
musical adventurousness leaves Dury
in the dust, making his work seem even
less worthy than it is. Jankel's master-
ful ability to hook almost every style of
Black American music imaginable to a
resilient reggae foundation (provided
by Sly Dunbar and Robbie
Shapespeare) proves that he has moved
into musical territory that Dury simply
can't match lyrically.
So, Lord Upnministe&r comes off as
more of a competition than a
collaboration, with Jankel'the unfor-
tunately obvious winner. I'm sure it
wasn't Jankel's intention to upstage
Dury-this seems a well-intentioned, if
ill-conceived pairing-but it is simply a
case of the right guys being in the
wrong place-namely, together.
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