The Genius

A ramshackle underground SF satire (1993) set and shot in the self-absorbed art world of lower Manhattan, written, produced, and directed by Joe Gibbons, who also plays one of the lead parts; Emily Breer was the editor and took charge of the postproduction, yet the film lacks the freshness and weirdness of her own work. Gibbons plays a mad scientist who’s developed a technique for transferring personalities from one person’s body to another; he becomes obsessed with an outlaw artist (played by performance artist Karen Finley) who destroys paintings in various galleries as a form of anarchist, anticapitalist protest. The main limitation here, apart from some dopey dialogue and an exposition dominated by mechanical crosscutting, is a substitution of performance art for acting, which leads to a certain crudeness in propping up the fiction. Among the other performers are Tony Conrad, Tony Oursler, and Adolfas Mekas, who seemed to be having more fun than I was. (JR)

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