DVDS

Gift

90 min. Robin McKenna, dist. by Good Docs, gooddocs.net. 2018. DVD $129; acad. libs. $349; screening + DVD $249; acad. libs. $549; DSL + DVD $559. SDH subtitles. ART-GENERAL
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The art world is obsessed with valuation, but what if one makes art just to give it away? Director McKenna presents an elegant documentary inspired by Lewis Hyde's 2007 book on the gift economy, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. The film interlaces the stories of artists from four different global communities as they create and hand over their work. McKenna has done well to choose diverse subjects and settings: Kwakwaka'wakw carver Marcus Alfred in the Pacific Northwest prepares an intricate potlatch ceremony; Taiwan-born Mingwei Lee installs his latest interactive artwork in a New Zealand museum; a group of Burning Man participants distribute honey in the Nevada desert; and an artistic enclave and its squatter population in Rome face eviction threats. Although slow paced (one gets a sense of the time and effort that goes into each gift), the thoughtful subjects are never boring.
VERDICT Recommended for art and philosophy lovers. This film is especially valuable for its profile of the late Alfred (1981–2016).

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