New York Long Distance

1994 / 16mm / couleur/color/cor / son/sound/som / 09:00

Fr, En, Pt

Remerciements à Maureen Turim qui m’a suggéré le titre du film.

Ce film personnel fait se côtoyer des représentations d’une ville avec, sur la bande-son, des fragments autobiographiques. La distance du souvenir. La trace de cette distance façonne autant la mémoire que les lieux hantés par tant d’histoires, et fait voler en éclats nos repères. Éclats qui induisent un effondrement dans un tourbillon d’affects.






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Œuvre appartenant à une collection privée

Thanks to Maureen Turim who suggested me the title of the film.

A film about my relationship to New York since 1962. It deals with the distance between a memory and the image of this memory, a distance one always tries to abolish.
In this personal film we see the images of a city from a close distance, with autobiographic fragments on the soundtrack. The distance of recollection. The trace of this distance shapes the memory as much as the places, haunted by so many stories, so that our marks will blow up in a crash. A crash leading to a collapse in a vortex of affects.



Um filme sobre a minha relação com New York desde 1962. Ele lida com a distância entre uma memória, uma distância que sempre tentamos abolir. Neste filme pessoal, vemos as imagens de uma cidade a partir de uma distância próxima, com fragmentos autobiográficos  na trilha sonora. A distância do registro. O traço desta separação forma a memória, tanto quanto os lugares, perseguida por tantas histórias, de modo que nossas marcas vão explodir em um acidente. Um acidente levando a um colapso em um vórtice de afetos.

English translation voice over from the film track.

Although I arrived in New York the first time by boat, in ’62, my strongest memory is not of the Statue of Liberty (whose significance I’d come to understand later) but rather of the Roger Smith Hotel which for me had all the characteristics of a palace: the height, the grandeur, the imposing lobby, and then that oh-so-mysterious room: « Ten O Two » which was going to be our home for several weeks before we moved to upstate New York.

One day in ’83 coming down Lexington Avenue I noticed that it was right next to Grand Central Station. Was it the memory or the reality that made the splendor, now commonplace, disappear?

A few blocks further downtown, during a particularly frigid winter, a black man lay shot on the sidewalk. I had come to New York in 76 hoping that distance would blot out the emotional disarray of the end of an adolescent passion.

Arrivals in New York but also departures are moments out of time, parentheses. Getting off the plane, I’ve always loved to lose myself in this city, in vertiginous discoveries of other spaces: Christopher Street in ’78, the East Village in ’82.

I didn’t meet my first American lover in New York, but I often saw him there once he had moved back. I stayed with him several times in ’78, ’82, and ’83. He lived in the place formerly occupied by Millenium when it was founded.

A victim of AIDS, he commited suicide when he’d decided he no longer had the physical strength to go on. He held a going-away party; I called him that night to say good-bye, rather than going to see him for the last time.

It was in ’83, staying with Haoui, that I was first confronted by the homeless who were beginning to haunt Second Avenue. Over the years their numbers grew and a new survival economy developed.

In ’74, New York summer meant suffocating heat, the family’s break-up, put off for years, was finally accomplished. I was a witness not really involved in the disappearance; had the family ever existed?

I was upset to meet Patrick on 5th Avenue, he was living in Brooklyn, still painting (houses), and had abandoned his other ambitions. It was the kind of evening one would just as soon avoid. A painful confrontation. A distant echo of a passion of which nothing remained in ’89 except perhaps a fleeting memory.

In ’87, coming back from Buffalo with Miles, I realised that I’d taken this same trip numerous times in ’62 and ’74. Each time had been in the summer, but this time the greenery was not any longer a sign of decay and death.

To know more about New York Long Distance, read Scott Hammen’s article or readNew York Long Distance’s soundtrack.

Film belonging to a private collection

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