Profile: George Kuchar
“This whole thing started because of my interest in nature. Since I was a city boy, living in The Bronx, nature came to me via the colorful tapestry of sky that loomed above the tenements. The awe of summer thunderstorms, smothering blizzards and window rattling nor’easters left a lasting impression on me. I sought out, via library books, the superstars of this meteorological majesty and read up on hurricanes, tornadoes and other terrors that occasionally whirled into urban awareness. (...) Instead of just reading accounts of these monstrous, whirling dervishes, and the lives of those caught in the vicinity of the vortex, I decided to take an airplane and go to where they huffed and puffed. So I wound up in Oklahoma City during springtime. I’d stay at the YMCA for three or four weeks and try to absorb, on all levels, the mysterious elements that now obsessed me. (...) I am not a storm chaser as I never learned how to drive a car. I wanted to experience springtime storms on the American plains like the simple folk I read about in those library books. Therefore the videos in the weather diaries depict the turmoil, tedium, terror and televised terrain of tornado country through the eyes of a transplant. At times I try to blend in, to digest the alien ambiance, the fast food and slow-motion days. Ailments galore pepper the series along with glimpses of those who pass like gas, vapors of vitality to sniff at with a gizmo that doesn’t have a nose. But I do hope you enjoy what its eye captures on this journey of jubilant junk food and delightful dread”. (GK)
For 34 years George Kuchar returned time and again to Oklahoma in springtime, hoping for tornados and storms, and he documented his experiences in Wild Night in El Reno (the only 16mm film in the series) and videos such as Weather Diaries 1-6, Heavenly Features, Centennial, Chigger Country and Hotspell, which was his last weather diary and also his last video. With this selection, Courtisane pays homage to a uniquely personal, bizarrely prolific and inspiringly funny filmmaker who left us in September and will be greatly missed.