Sharon Lockhart
screening Structural Ethnographies, New American Art Union, 922 SE Ankeny, March 30-31 @ 7:30 pm; slide lecture @ Reed College Psychology Auditorium, April 1 @ 4 pm

Goshogaoka, one of two films by Sharon Lockhart that will be screened by Cinema Project, opens with an interior shot of a Junior High gymnasium in a Japanese suburb. The camera angle does not change during the film's one-hour duration--a glossy wood floor fills the foreground and a stage, cordoned off by red curtain, occupies the back wall. More than 20 Japanese girls run into the gym in single file, and during six 10-minute segments, engage in a basketball practice of sorts, parading in front of the camera for ball-handling drills, jumping up and down, passing a ball around, and eventually cooling down by removing their shoes to massage and stretch each other.

But this is no mere practice; Lockhart collaborated with Steven Galloway of the Frankfurt Ballet and worked with the girls for two months. Within the first few minutes a captivating dichotomy arises between the girls' simple, beautifully choreographed movements and their self-conscious existence as pre-teens. The beauty of their quasi-dance is strangely enhanced by their awkward mistakes and hesitancy--a dropped ball or mistimed move. The film, which might initially appear to comment on the little girls' roles in Japanese society, or to use them simply as pawns in a bizarre dance experiment, becomes filled with a frail humanity. The result is nothing short of magical.

Lockhart will be in attendance at this week's Portland screenings and will give a separate slide lecture on her photography. Like her films, Lockhart's photographs blur the lines between the natural and choreographed, the real and staged. In one recent project, she photographed living people interacting with Duane Hanson's hyperrealist sculptures--a real woman sits across from the lifeless girl of Hanson's Child with Puzzle; real construction workers mingle with the hard hat-wearing sculptures of Lunch Break. The result is creepy, beautiful and infinitely more interesting than the vast majority of photography that's been lining every street corner this month