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SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily

Katheryn Bigelow’s Art World Roots

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By Craig Hubert | If you know the name Kathryn Bigelow, it’s most likely from her Academy Award winning film “The Hurt Locker,” and/or the recently released, Academy Award nominated, “Zero Dark Thirty.” Some may even know that she was one of the most criminally under-appreciated directors in Hollywood for two decades before her major critical and commercial success with “Locker.” What many don’t realize is that Bigelow, long before she reached Hollywood, was seriously involved in the New York art world of the 1970’s. A recent New Yorker article on the director detailed her early days downtown:

In the seventies, when Bigelow moved to New York from San Francisco, she lived a few blocks from Ground Zero. She had a painting scholarship sponsored by the Whitney Museum, and she lived off Reade Street, in an old bank vault beneath a branch of OTB. Sometimes she slept in a sleeping bag. She was part of the conceptual-art collective Art & Language, and she hung out with Susan Sontag and Philip Glass, who was then driving a cab. To make money, she and Glass rented lofts and renovated them.

“I would find the lofts,” she told the magazine. “They were these old print factories, in SoHo and Tribeca. There’d be mounds of dried ink on the floors, and I would sand them. I’d do the floors and put up the walls. And Philip Glass would do the plumbing. We would live in the lofts while we were renovating them, and then we’d charge people a fixture fee.” She would collaborate during this period with artists such as Dan Graham, Vito Acconci, Richard Serra and Lawrence Weiner. We’d like to suggest that Bigelow’s next movie be about this.

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