The H&R Block Artspace puts a different kind of art on its walls.

Summer Movies 

The H&R Block Artspace puts a different kind of art on its walls.

When the H&R Block Artspace had to postpone its summer exhibition, director Raechell Smith decided it was the perfect time to test the new audiovisual equipment her staff had purchased for the upcoming exhibit of work by Shirin Neshat, a video artist from Iran. The gallery began projecting movies on one of its big, blank, white walls on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons.

"We figured that, with the typical heat of August and the general malaise we all experience during the last days of summer, going someplace cool in the afternoon to watch a flick wasn't such a bad idea," Smith says.

The Artspace invited several area art and film buffs to contribute. Maria Elena Buszek, who teaches European modern art at the Kansas City Art Institute, chose expressionist films by Fritz Lang. (Metropolis, M, and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse screen at 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m., respectively, on Thursday, August 26.)

Not all of the movies have such an art-snob feel, though. Artspace staffer Jaimie Warren picked out Happiness and Showgirls under the theme "Warped Sense of Humor."

Inspired by last summer's exhibit by Chinese-born artist Wenda Gu, Smith selected a series of films from China. (She will attend the Shanghai Biennial and a symposium in Beijing later this year.) I caught a Saturday showing of Zhang Yimou's The Story of Qiu Ju, starring Gong Li. The attendance was sparse, but that added to the cozy, at-home feeling. Members of the audience curled up on couches and easy chairs in the cool, dark gallery. Some of us bought popcorn and drinks for less than a dollar.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, August 28, the Artspace hosts the regional premiere of Before You Don't Vote ... Advice to the Angry, Apathetic & Alienated, a film by Larry Litt. It's part of a series Litt calls The Blame Show, which he started in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. In the film, Litt interviews more than fifty politically active Americans from New York and Florida, asking them, "Who is to blame for voter apathy?" and "Why vote?"

Although Litt interviews each person separately in front of a plain, white background, he edits the footage in a manner that creates a discourse among people of widely varying political opinions. It's appropriate for a politically charged summer that might end up being notable for its lack of malaise.

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