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Artful History - A Restoration Comedy

USA, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Jason Simon, Mark Dion

Mark Dion refers to this film as his 'revenge' for the stress and low pay he had to put up with during the four years he spent in the art restoration industry.

Artful History is far more than a mere expose of the legalised vandalism practised by the 'restorers' at the whim of what Dion calls the 'used-car salesman school of art dealers', or at the direction of self-opinionated gallery curators. Lampooning the bland style of the art-doco genre of films, Simon and Dion accompany the artistic outrages shown on the screen with a dead-pan, voice-of-authorily commentary which alternates between descriptions of shonky business deals and the phony art philosophy of the hack critic.

In this way, Artful History questions our society, which, through its media— in this case the documentary — manages to do violence to history and to reality as well as to creative artists in the service of money and power.

The contradictions which convey these insights make Artful History a genuinely humourous film. - (GH)

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