Avant-Garde Tricks & Phantasmal Treats

The Downtown Art Gallery will be participating in Lewisburg’s Trick or Treat tomorrow (Wed 10/31) from 5-7 pm. I personally can think of no better backdrop to an evening of candy, bubblegum and sugar highs than the colorful work of Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung.

We will also be featuring on the video screen Vortmittagspuk (Ghosts Before Breakfast) by Hans Richter, running on a loop from 7 pm to midnight. Ghosts Before Breakfast is a German Dadaist animated short silent experimental avant-garde film. As much of a mouth-full as that sentence was, it not only describes but is also written in the style of this fantastical, film collage hodge-podge. The basic plot line, if you can call it that, is a suburban morning tea that has been infringed upon by four bowler hat-wearing ghosts. What ensues is a surreal merging of real world and a world of fantasy.

This piece is especially fitting for Trick or Treating. Richter employs a variety of “trick photography” techniques, experimenting with the limits and possibilities of camera and film to emphasize fantasy: scenes placed on top of one another, overlapping and layering to create a new dimensional reality; fast motion and slow motion to skew your sense of time lapse; reverse film play (water going back into a hose); and contrasting positive and negative film impression to show the dichotomy between the “real world” and “fantasy world.”

Richter’s “treat” is the invitation to the world of fantasy he has created. The scenes change faster than you can mentally comprehend what you’ve just seen. Richter’s work and Dadaism have been analyized in an art historical context for longer than I have been alive. One can certainly discuss how this piece challenged the art standards of its time until they are blue in the face, but for me the enjoyment of this film is that you really don’t need to think at all about it- just enjoy it. “It gives the audience a chance to release nervous tension when witnessing these abstractions shown through images.”

For me, another “treat” provided by this film is the opportunity to watch all the different variations on YouTube. Written by Paul Hindemith, the original soundtrack was destroyed during the Nazis degenerate art purge. A variety of audio tracks have since been placed as soundtrack for the film, as well as new works of music created specifically for the piece by artists such as The Real Tuesday Weld. My personal favorite is a version by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz.

Stop down tomorrow night for some candy in the gallery and then stick around for this tricking & treating work from our Museum Collection, Ghosts Before Breakfast!





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Gallery Locations

The Samek Gallery
3rd Floor, Elaine Langone Center
Bucknell University

The Downtown Gallery
416 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837