In a somewhat serendipitous set of circumstances, the beautiful Hudson River figures prominently in two events/exhibitions that will be here in the end of October: Simon Starling’s new film Red Rivers (In Search of the Elusive Okapi) is on view in the galleries from October 17 through November 1 and the film Against the Current, screens here on Saturday, October 24, as part of the Williamstown Film Festival.
Simon’s new film conflates the stories of two journeys made a century apart and completes a cycle of almost three years of his research, travel and production, which began in 2007 with the building and exhibiting of a strip canoe. Strip Canoe (African Walnut), which has been on view at MASS MoCA since December 2008, references the 1909 expedition to the Congo by scientist and photographer Herbert Lang.Â Sent on a biological survey by the American Museum of Natural History, Lang is now perhaps best known for his photographs of the Okapi. In the new film, a series of contemporary still images charts a seven-day trip Starling made in the sculpture/canoe, which he paddled down the Hoosic and Hudson Rivers from North Adams to New York City.
Against the Current tells the story of a young man seeking emotional closure who decides to swim the length of the Hudson River accompanied by two friends in a boat. Peter Callahanâ€™s direction and superb cast â€“ Joseph Fiennes, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser, Mary Tyler Moore, and Michelle Trachtenberg â€“ create a funny/sad, beautifully nuanced saga of human folly and the tests of friendship.Â Callahan talked about the challenges of filming on the Hudson in an interview on WAMC.