Anthony Huberman

Despite being so simple and straight-forward, the revolving discs of Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs don’t give the eye anything to hold on to. There is no entrance and no exit, the inside seems indistinguishable from the outside, and we lose track of where the work begins and where it ends. As they rotate, the forms stay out of reach, always a few steps ahead, as if they were on the run and impossible to catch up to. They turn, the eye turns along with them, and they become circles of circles that defy representation, abstraction, and identification.
A circle of circles lies at the center of Amy Granat’s work. Renouncing the linear or narrative structure of film, she prefers a cyclical system of loops, where each end is connected to its own beginning. Mostly made without a camera, her abstract films let through light in short bursts of circles and lines. Making up a self-referential cosmology, her films are places where light, sound, and space learn to co-exist, and where each becomes indistinguishable from the others. Echoing the cycle of life, her work considers deconstruction to be a form of reconstruction, death to be an opportunity for rebirth, and subtraction to be a type of addition. Traditional binaries quickly collide and collapse, and, like in a circle, up stops being the opposite of down.
But a circle is also a zero, and if Granat’s work is about presence it is also about absence, or, rather, about the impossibility of separating one from the other. She is everywhere and she is nowhere: she moves from film to photography, from abstraction to representation, from light to darkness, from silence to noise, from autonomy to collaboration. She writes, she curates, she performs, she teaches. Made from the destruction of the material itself, her looped 16mm films are fields of entropy, chance, and illumination. She lets the light of the film compose its own soundtrack by plugging the projectors into guitar amplifiers, and what we see becomes what we hear. Conceived site-specifically, her installations remain intimately linked to the physical space they inhabit. Her collaborative approach merges her work with that of performers, painters, dancers, photographers, and musicians. Her nomadic events – under the name of Cinema Zero – create loops out of the past and the present by placing a Joyce Weiland film alongside by a Jutta Koether performance, or paintings by Paul-Aymar Mourgue D’Algue with a film by Hollis Frampton.
In Granat’s work, film functions like a sunspot: to see it, you can’t look directly at it. What John Cage did to sound, what Gordon Matta-Clark did to buildings, what Robert Smithson did to dirt, what Nancy Holt did to the desert, what Georgia O’Keefe did to skulls, what Steven Parrino did to painting, what William Burroughs did to language, what Sun Ra did to the galaxy…Amy Granat does to film. She breathes new life into film by violating its borders, puncturing its materiality, and seizing its absence. In the end, Granat’s work happens three times, like a zig-zag: things start, they turn, and then they start again. Here are 3 images by Amy Granat.