Nothing is new. The past returns to haunt and seduce us.
That is the final message of Massive Attack V Adam Curtis, a 90-minute film and concert that opened this past Saturday, September 28th, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.
For the film, BBC producer-director Adam Curtis wove together over 50 years of archived footage of politics, pop culture icons and eerie tragedies, from the Chernobyl disaster and Jane Fonda in her fitness days to Brit pop icon Pauline Boty and her daughter, whose tragic story haunted the night. The combination of clips formed a timeline intertwining a past that still sought an optimistic future to what Curtis sees as today’s fearful and managed culture.
The film played on a dozen or so boxed-in screens that towered over the Park Avenue Armory audience. Below, British band Massive Attack performed with guest singers Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins) and reggae legend Horace Andy. Translucently concealed behind the front screens, covers of albums by Nirvana, Bauhaus, and Barbara Streisand reverberated throughout the cavernous space, thematically coinciding with appropriate topics from the film.
In Curtis’s artistic vision, the government’s goal is no longer to “control” society, but to “manage” it through the collection of data to predict the future. Through this perpetual recycling of history, nothing new can be created. We are only offered better versions of what has already come before us.
Massive Attack V Adam Curtis will be showing nightly at the Park Ave Armory in New York until October 4.