GOWANUS HAZE; (2012); Margaret Rorison; 16MM; TRT: 5:41
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn New York, associated with grime and desolation, combines with my voice and excerpts of stories from my demented grandfather.
Out of nostalgia!
Greenwood Heights was the last neighborhood that I lived in before I left Brooklyn. It was just South of Gowanus. I spent most of my final summer days in Brooklyn biking along 3rd Avenue and sleeping next to the hum of the BQE (which was just next to my bedroom window). That industrial landscape has strong nostalgic memories for me. I would wander the abandoned plot of land (which has now become Whole Foods) and spend many nights in the old Can Company listening to live shows at Issue Project Room. The captured landscape in Gowanus Haze represents freedom and escapism. It holds the landscapes that represent that last wild summer before my life changed and I moved out of the city, which I had called home for three dramatic years of my life. I returned to this landscape two years after I had moved and shot all of this on my bike. I had my tripod and Bolex strapped to me and I intuitively pushed through the places that I felt I must return to and re-imagine.
Tell us about your the person we hear talking in the film.
The recordings are of my late grandfather, Harry Bennett, Sr. He was a painter and illustrator and used to work for various book publishers in New York City. I love his voice and I showed him the footage and had asked him to talk a bit about those days. He had dementia by the time I was recording him, so his memory and recitation of those moments are more lucid and poetic.
What was your creative process with this film?
I biked through various parts of Brooklyn and made a shot list and sculpted the rhythm of the landscape and then returned to the important and nostalgic places and shot all the footage in one afternoon on my bike. I didn’t do much editing after the film was shot. I made the soundtrack separately, without watching the film and magically, the sound synched up wonderfully (I think) with the footage. It was the first film I made that I considered a complete piece. And the third 16mm film I ever shot!