The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Only the Lonely”

Only the Lonely by Marie Craven
Poem and reading by Neil Flatman
Music by Dementio 13

When I first viewed Only The Lonely it reminded me of Marina Abramovic’s work. The message and performance is enticing. However, I find most performance art to be lacking in substance and execution. In this case it does not take away from the underlying theme, which I believe to be uneasiness.

A young woman sits in the middle of a white room. It’s apparent she is filled with anxiety as passers-by speed along. They can probably feel her discomfort thus making her unapproachable. Perhaps her presence is so visibly intense they are afraid to engage on any level.

In terms of the video, again the feeling of angst comes across well. The fact that we have to move through the world is frightening, even if we are just sitting still.

The composition seems to be intentionally centered. Personally I would rather have the artist make better use of the female image, possibly close-ups and various camera angles. This would make it much more dramatic. It’s a short video, and I think too much time is wasted using the zoom. Judging from the wall hangings I assume she is in a gallery performing. I would rather experience her in an airport or office building where people come and go only because they have to. In situations such as these, we accept the sterile atmosphere. A location such as an airport or hospital would connect more to life, rather than staring at a bunch of blank canvases and ignoring a person sitting in the middle of a room. I presume that was the artist’s intention. She is part of the exhibition and the attendees are not comfortable connecting with her on any level.

The avoidance of contact by the audience makes Only The Lonely a thought-provoking piece, but I think it could be stronger. Getting the point across is key, but I do wish the artist had taken it a step further and pushed the envelope. The music is really nice but it doesn’t fit the mood. If this piece is about pain and anxiety then the other media should support it. I feel as if the artist is holding back. Give me something I can latch onto and remember, like a nightmare that keeps reoccurring.

Now if I could only get that Roy Orbison song out of my head.

Cheryl Gross

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl Gross (website, blog) is an illustrator, painter, writer, and motion graphic artist living and working in the New York/Jersey City area. She is a professor at Pratt Institute (where she received her MFA) and Bloomfield College. Her work has appeared in numerous festivals and publications as well as gracing the walls of many galleries, corporate and museum collections. “I equate my work with creating and building an environment, transforming my inner thoughts into reality. Beginning with the physical process, I work in layers. I am involved in solving visual and verbal complexities such as design and narrative. My urban influence has indeed added an ‘edge’ to my work.” Cheryl has often been compared to “Dr. Seuss on crack.”