Thoughts on Suggestive Gestures by Lynne Sachs

Notes written for the occasion of SUGGESTIVE GESTURES: David Finkelstein in Person. November, 22nd, 2014 @ the Museum of Human Achievement.

David Finkelstein. Suggestive Gestures. 2013.

David Finkelstein. Suggestive Gestures. 2013.

I just spent the weekend with David Finkelstein’s Suggestive Gestures. The film is absolutely enthralling. In addition to directing the piece, Finkelstein also becomes one of its two engaging performers, so confident in the act of exploration, even in front of an audience or the camera. The universe that he, as director, constructs and that both of performers visit is clearly the product of computer technology but it is also so alive. Cleverly, Finkelstein begins the piece with spinning, over-sized rose colored glasses, and from that moment on we know we are to read a code of invention – both verbal and visual. As always with Finkelstein’s work, I thought immediately of Gertrude Stein’s playful, brilliant and often sardonic dances with language. Sometimes the performance seemed to come from a stream of consciousness and sometimes it just seemed too clever to have been generated that way.

While watching the film, I did not throw logic to the wind, but I did allow let my hyper analytic self to go free, listening to the sounds of words as much for the punch as their meaning. At times, I wished that Finkelstein had not included the text on the screen so much, as it made me read more than I would have liked. When he did not translate the sounds of the words to the screen, I was better able to enjoy the performing couple’s fun and games with language — the “defiled and the filed” (his words of course).

While watching David’s piece, I thought of all the great work produced at the Experimental Television Center in Oswego, New York during in the 1970s and 80s. His palette is very similar so I wondered if he was ever an artist in residence at that esteemed and beloved media utopia.

Regarding the pas-de-deux of the two performers (Finkelstein himself and Cassie _____), I greatly enjoyed the fact that their conversation was both aural and visual. “Yes/ Sure! Gestation, Suggestion, Gesture.” Throughout Suggestive Gestures, they created a wonderful, expressive physicality, though I eventually wanted to see them both move their bodies more often and with more fluidity. While it was interesting to see the images respond to the couple’s rants, sometimes this interaction was a little to literal, especially in the tea party scene. Nevertheless, I have never seen the spatial meet the visceral with such exhilaration!

David Finkelstein has created a fantastic four dimensional labyrinth that reminds me a great deal of Peter Greenaway’s “Prospero’s Books”. In a similarly puzzling way, this is a piece that takes place over time but really has nothing to do with TIME or narrative. Fascinating.♦

David Finkelstein. Suggestive Gestures. 2013.
David Finkelstein. Suggestive Gestures. 2013.

Lynne Sachs makes films, videos, installations and web projects that explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together poetry, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Since 1994, her five essay films have taken her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel and Germany — sites affected by international war–where she tries to work in the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions.

Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, Lynne searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with each and every new project. Since 2006, she has collaborated with her partner Mark Street in a series of playful, mixed-media performance collaborations they call The XY Chromosome Project.

In addition to her work with the moving image, Lynne co-edited the 2009 Millennium Film Journal issue on “Experiments in Documentary”. Supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller and Jerome Foundations and the New York State Council on the Arts, Lynne’s films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and recently in a five film survey at the Buenos Aires Film Festival. She has received awards in April 2010, the San Francisco Cinematheque presented a full retrospective of her work. Lynne attended Brown University and the San Francisco Art Institute. She teaches experimental film and video at New York University and lives in Brooklyn. For more info: