Exhibits from the C.F. Kane Museum, parts 1 and 2
by B. Kite  posted August 31, 2010
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American: Exhibits from the C.F. Kane Museum is projected to be a six-part investigation into the work, life, and myths of Orson Welles. It's structured around a series of objects that appear in Citizen Kane. As Manny Farber noted of Kane (with accuracy, if little affection): "The story was presented in such complicated ways and made so portentous with the shadows of meaning cast off by a hundred symbols that you could read almost anything into it, including what Welles had put there."

Those symbols, or emblems, are indeed central to Welles's work, and it's true that he sounds them for resonance rather than linking them to a univocal meaning (or perhaps better still for Farber, leaving them to rest in their thing-ness). But what for Farber stands as an error of taste may in fact be Welles's guiding principle: he constructed his mazes in those shadows of meaning. And the figure in his work most shadowed and fragmented is Welles himself, and through him more general notions and strategies of being, for he was always his own best laboratory.

Part 1, "Screen," is basically a prologue and sets up a guiding (non)image for the whole series in Xanadu, the impossible object. Part 2, "Snowglobe," looks at the myth of the Golden Time, which haunts Welles's work. Part 3, which will probably be finished someday, will be called "Sled" and will poke around the intersection of biography and forgery.

I'd like to thank Robert M. Johanson for contributing his voice and for giving these videos their premiere in a limited run last year. And now thanks too to Moving Image Source for housing them in perpetuity.

It would be nice if people watched them full-screen. 


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B. Kite
An image from the video essay American
Photo Gallery: American


Orson Welles  |  video essay  |  Citizen Kane  |  Manny Farber


B. Kite lives in Brooklyn. He has written on movies and books for publications including The Village Voice, The Believer, and Cinema Scope, as well as appearing in the anthology Exile Cinema: Filmmakers at Work Beyond Hollywood (SUNY, 2008).

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