THE FILMS OF SU FRIEDRICH: VOLUME 6
a film by Su Friedrich
27 minutes, Color, USA, 2005, Video
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SEEING RED is the latest work from veteran avant-garde
filmmaker Su Friedrich. In this, one of her most deeply personal
films to date, Friedrich takes a look back at her evolution both
as a woman and as an artist, tackling her own insecurities via several
on-camera diary entries. While SEEING RED is a
film about the existential crises of the individual, it is also
a film about what unites all humanity and what unites humanity with
all the matter surrounding us. Friedrich accomplishes these two
objectives using three elements: monologue, montage, and music.
The monologue element consists of Friedrich's own video diary footage,
a technique most famously utilized in her 2002 film THE
ODDS OF RECOVERY, in which Friedrich documented the
development of health problems she was having at the time. In SEEING
RED as in THE
ODDS OF RECOVERY, these monologues reveal the filmmaker's
refreshingly blunt voice while allowing her to vent some of her
most inner frustrations about both her personal and professional
life. Friedrich's rants run the gamut from lamenting her lack of
control over her own emotions, to comparing her "performance"
for the camera and for the people in her life, to voicing her fears
about what her video production students really think of her.
The film oscillates between these reflections on Friedrich's personal
uncertainty and footage of the color red in its many shades and
forms. The filmmaker masterfully weaves images of pink flowers,
red birds, orange construction machinery, red neon lights, and countless
other places where she sees red, focusing mainly on the red clothing
of many faceless New Yorkers. These montage sequences are united
with Friedrich's diary footage through Bach's "The Goldberg
Variations," a calming piano piece that punctuates the movement
Though at times dark and cynical, Friedrich often brings us to
laughter in discussing her existential dilemmas, making us realize
that they are also our own. In the film's climactic ending, Friedrich
is able to triumph over own limitations, deciding that she can let
go, take chances, reinvent herself, and surprise herself, urging
us to do the same.
"SEEING RED is as personal as many
of Friedrich’s best autobiographical films and videos,
but here the diary takes on a more worldly view, informed
by the wisdom of age. Su Friedrich is an angry young woman,
only she’s not so young. That is part of the reason
she is seeing red. Friedrich asks what it means to be an artist
in a debased world, a world in which things are perpetually
unfinished and incomplete, and the house is always messy.
She hides herself in and behind the details of everyday life,
most of which are surprisingly red. Bach, Whitman and Dickenson
provide a backdrop for her desire to transcend the mundane,
which she does, simply by finding the beauty of small things
in the world around her. Friedrich’s sense of humour
meets her existential dilemma with passion and intimacy. Don’t
let her flippant tone deceive you; this is a major work."
Catherine Russell, Professor, CONCORDIA