The New Yorker | Bruce Conner: REPORT and MARILYN TIMES FIVE

If you missed the recent MOMA survey dedicated to the quicksilver Bay Area artist, who died in 2008, at the age of seventy-four, this show makes a fine introduction. A recently restored version of Conner’s 16-mm. film “Report,” from 1967—on view alongside the ingeniously irritating avant-girlie movie “Marilyn Times Five,” made in 1973—considers how a nation processes trauma, the magnetic appeal of conspiracy theories, and the slippery nature of time. Beginning with a clip of J.F.K. and Jackie in their open car in Dallas, in 1963, Conner collages found news footage with scenes culled from monster movies and bullfights to convey the anguish, the horror, and the confusion of the President’s assassination. A rapidly flashing blank screen stands in for the murder itself, but the most affecting moment arrives when an announcer repeats the news of Kennedy’s death, rephrasing it slightly each time, as if searching for a formulation that makes sense.