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This fall, when Jeffrey Deitch moved back into his old gallery space at 76 Grand St. in Soho, he vowed to use the opportunity to showcase projects that might not make the mainstream. “I wanted to be able to support all these young galleries, not compete with them,” Deitch told The Hollywood Reporter. His opening exhibition, “Cameron: Cinderella of the Wastelands,” marked one of the first times the artist Cameron — a Los Angeles figure who rubbed shoulders with Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard while creating graphic images of mind-altering sex and occult spirituality — has been shown in public since a 1957 LAPD raid on her work at the Ferus Gallery on obscenity charges.
Deitch, who in 2013 resigned as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, after three years in the post, unveiled on Oct. 20 his second project, “The Wolfpack Show.” The exhibit gathers the homemade props, costumes and other artwork by the Angulo brothers, the fascinating filmmakers featured in Crystal Moselle’s documentary, The Wolfpack, which won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at Sundance. The film offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of the six brothers — Bhagavan, twins Govinda and Narayana, Mukunda, Krisna (now Glenn) and Jagadesh (now Eddie), currently ranging in age from 17 to 23 years old — whose paranoid father had kept them confined in an apartment in a Lower East Side housing development on Delaney Street in Manhattan for 14 years. With films their only access to the outside world, the brothers passed the time by painstakingly recreating their favorite movies, through a complicated process that included transcribing scripts line-by-line, precisely choreographing fight scenes and fashioning costumes and props from cereal boxes and coffee tins. “They had to create their own world,” Deitch marveled.
“The Wolfpack Show” allows the brothers to act as tour guides to that world. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the release of The Wolfpack on DVD, as well as the launch of a new book of photographs by Dan Martensen, Wolves Like Us: Portraits of the Angulo Brothers (Damiani). “This is a project that touches on the worlds of film, art, and, with Dan, fashion,” explained Great Bowery’s Alex Galan, who collaborated with Deitch on the show. “Having all these different media is very much in the spirit of the boys, who don’t seem to classify themselves. They are truly a new breed.”
Galan likened the show’s opening to “the glory days of Deitch Projects,” when the gallery presented headline-making performance art and helped launch the careers of such artists as Cecily Brown and Swoon. “It was a mob scene, with a line around the block.” Chief among the crowd were the brothers and their mother, Susanne Reisenbichler, Moselle and Wolfpack’s associate producer, Megan Delaney, alongside filmmakers Spike Jonze and Jonathan Mannion, designers Prabal Gurung and Humberto Leon, and photographers Inez and Vinoodh, Brad Elterman, Bob Gruen and Olivier Zahm.
In addition to selected portraits by Martensen, the exhibition premiered Mukunda Angulo’s six-minute film, Window Feel, which tells the story of a solitary figure who watches the world pass by from the other side of a window sill. “Window Feel was in some ways a mix between Edward Munch and the dance scene from Twin Peaks,” Mukunda told THR. “But of course I also wanted to tell a part of my story. We all grew up looking out a window and watching life go by. The Twin Peaks music is what helped me get to that emotion.”
After years of cobbling together impromptu film sets, exhibition making came easily to the brothers. “We actually do a very similar thing on Halloween, where we fill our apartment with different props and scripts, though mostly horror-related,” Mukunda explained, adding: “We’re very big into Halloween.” And how did the brothers respond to the opportunity to work with Deitch, a dream for many an artist? “Well, at first we had to be told who he was,” Mukunda admitted. “But when I found out more about all that he’s done, we realized what an honor it was to get to work with him. He is the most wonderful guy. Plus, he has movie glasses.”
“When I was Mukunda’s age, I was going to Deitch Projects. It’s amazing to know that Jeffrey sees in them what I see,” Moselle told THR. “Of course, I always saw this scenario where their work would be shared with the world, but I never thought it would be able to have this viewership, to be able to speak to so many people.”
As the documentary has traveled from festival to festival, stirring up Oscar buzz along the way, the brothers have had a chance to enter the world of film like never before. “We have met so many of our heroes, actors and directors,” Mukunda mused. “We met Spike Jonze, one of the greatest directors and screenwriters out there. We met Tim Roth, who told us to have fun and get creative, and if you ever lose hope, to get inside your head. That means so much coming from a real Reservoir Dog. David O. Russell showed us around while he was editing Joy. Oh, and Werner Herzog! We got to meet Werner Herzog!”
As for whether the experience of the documentary will affect the brothers’ work, Mukunda remains insistent that “as long as there’s a camera and I have an idea of what I want to shoot, it remains the same.” He did, however, confess that the experience of shooting in the Vice Studios opened his mind to some possibilities. “In a studio, you have so much more control over everything. When shooting in our apartment, we had to work with whatever light came through the window.”
“We try to stay motivated by what you can make, not whether you’ll make it,” Mukunda concluded. “Though we’d like to be able to make our mark in history, and hopefully to inspire anyone else who wants to be a filmmaker.”
“The Wolfpack Show” remains on view until November 1, 2015.
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