Magazine article Artforum International

Marcelino Stuhmer: Chicago Cultural Center

Magazine article Artforum International

Marcelino Stuhmer: Chicago Cultural Center

Article excerpt

John Frankenheimer's 1962 thriller The Manchurian Candidate depicts the brainwashing of captured American soldiers during the Korean War, with one soldier programmed to become an assassin. It's an eerie tale of enemies without and within that hinges on the insecure integrity of self. The validity of the story was enhanced when, a year after the film's release, a former GI who had lived behind the Iron Curtain was accused of assassinating President Kennedy. A pivotal scene in the film depicts the group of soldiers seated at what they are brainwashed into believing is a garden party, in America, at which a group of matronly ladies listen to a lecture about hydrangeas--a scene that the soldiers later individually revisit in dreams with horrific glimpses into the reality of their situation.

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Shifting snippets, visual and auditory, in Frankenheimer's 360-degree pan around the room reveal that the soldiers are actually seated on the stage of a kind of operating theater in which their Communist handlers demonstrate complete control over them, even directing the prisoners to kill one another. The scene is re-created in Marcelino Stuhmer's panoramic painting, The Recurring Dream, 2007-2008. While panoramas most often represent an attempt to create a unified environmental illusion, Stuhmer's demonstrates how painting, like film, might have the ability to suggest place and develop narrative over time. His panorama begins and ends with a depiction of the soldiers on their stage, and in twenty-seven overlapping rectangular images painted on the black curved interior walls of his mini-pavilion, he generally follows the flow of the film, left to right, depicting the unfolding of a dream sequence. Painted in a blurry, primarily wet-on-wet grisaille (the film, too, is in black and white) with hints of blue and lavender, the images show the ladies at one point sharing space with the captors, the fissures in the soldiers' brainwashing beginning to surface, as the setting changes from garden party to laboratory. …

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