Who? Polymaths Gus Van Sant and James Franco. What? Unfinished is a collaborative show that features the two films Endless Idaho and My Own Private River.
What? Unfinished is a collaborative show that features the two films Endless Idaho and My Own Private River. Originally shot by Van Sant in 1991, My Own Private Idaho stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as street hustlers in Portland, Oregon. After showing Franco the dailies and other footage he had shot for this, Franco was inspired to make them into art and so ensued open editing outtakes, deletes scenes, alternate takes, and behind-the-scenes footage to create the 12-hour film, Endless Idaho. A captivating blend of documentary and fiction, à la Andy Warhol, interviews with actual hustlers who played secondary characters in My Private Idaho are intercut with improvisations from Phoenix and Reeves.
In contrast My Own Private River focuses on Phoenix, who acts out the role of a narcoleptic drifter, Mike, in the original movie. The film features edited footage of Phoenix to create a captivating portrait of the young actor at work, with the score for the movie by Michael Stipe of R.E.M..
Creating a beautiful accompaniment to the two moving images are Van Sant’s eight striking watercolours – which further demonstrate his immediate and intimate directorial approach. Pictured in this series are portraits of young men who recall characters in My Own Private Idaho: “defiant, circumspect, and devil-may-care insouciants” as the release describes.
Why? With one previous collaborative triumph already – after Van Sant cast Franco in the award-winning film Milk – this Gagosian exhibition reaffirms the duo's success and endeavors as artists. Best known for their award-winning work as director and actor respectively, both have also exhibited in solo shows at major art galleries and public institutions.
Gus Van Sant/ James Franco: Unfinished exhibits until 9 April at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. Four screenings are shown daily.
Text by Lucia Davies