Easter Morning, 1966/2008

Author: Bruce Conner

8 mm digital video, colour and sound.

Digitally restored in 2017.

Music: “In C” by Terry Riley.

Performed by the Shangai Film Orchestra.

© Conner Family Trust.

Duration: 10 minutes, 28 seconds.

This is his final finished masterpiece. It was completed shortly before passing away in July 2008 and summarises his professional career path, along with his powerful visual and sensual experience acquired over fifty years in the trade. 
The title refers to the day on which the movie was filmed which coincides with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.
The images include multiple kaleidoscopes of plants, flowers and nocturnal lighting interwoven with flashes of a seated naked woman, Suzanne Mowat, posing on the windowsill on a sunny Easter morning. These images are combined with foreground shots of graphic patterns forming an oriental rug, with the images of a crucifix made from white stone enhancing the backdrop of the blue horizon of San Francisco. The female nude and Christianism are recurring themes in his works and form part of the memory and the keepsakes of his childhood in the Mid-West. The inclusion of the o oriental rug is a leitmotiv in Conner’s oeuvre. Therefore, this piece is based on a shared vocabulary of visual motifs and family matters alongside a mono linear prolonged over cinematographic time that burst into life in the cinema of the sixties.

The music has been composed by the minimalist composer Terry Riley "In C" (1964) and performed by the Shanghai Film Orchestra with antique Chinese musical instruments. This sound featuring archaic tones produced by these suggest and transmits to us a sensation of historical and geographical distancing whilst at the same time endowing the film with an air of mystery and enigma.

Unlike many of his previous films that often portray harsh critiques of the means of communication and their harmful effects on US culture, this work constitutes a much more meditative study carried out thanks to a set of convincing and hypnotic images. Therein is the suggestion of a never-ending search, from time to time temporary and defective, of the transcendence of specificities of time and place, the limitations of the flesh and the vicissitudes faced on a daily basis.

The video offers us the reinterpretation footage of his unreleased movie, Easter Morning Rage, filmed in 1966 with a single camera and which Conner considered a “perfect film”. In contrast to his most celebrated works like A Movie (1958) y Crossroads (1976) which are juxtapositions of fragments of news items, soft-core porn and B movies, the images that inhabit Easter Morning serve to reinterpret the footage. The artist expands upon the imagery in terms of duration, calibre and frame speed which leads to an enigmatic transcendence of its misconceptions and those watching it.  When Conner decided to shift to digital, it was more a matter of convenience and control over structural or formal competence.

Accompanied by the rhythmic music, it is not solely an account of Conner’s ability to balance order and chaos, control and randomness, but moreover it lays down his ongoing interest in alternative means of viewing and experimenting.