There are no posters in the actual exhibition. And the title is confusing. It’s obviously a play off of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. But the title of this exhibition exists only in the realm of the impossible or extremely violent. And while I would prefer not to think about those realms they are always there. Which is scary. I’m not a fan of horror films until I see them and realize that for the most part they aren’t that scary. It seems I’m just afraid of the idea of being scared. Forster has another book called Where Angels Fear to Tread and spoiler alert it’s about the death of a baby which is very sad and lends the otherwise trivial banter and banal though witty observations a serious punch in the face.
We live in a world where stupidity and brilliance are bedfellows and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, sometimes because of drunkenness, at other times intentionally but mostly because of illiteracy. The prison film genre is another form that I find hard to stomach. Seeing that much injustice piled upon the idea of justice is so infuriating that it begins to tap on the door of a realm beyond understanding, beyond what the brain can absorb. If I think about it too long I would get a panic attack. When I was 15 I attended a High School for the Arts in Los Angeles where there was a student named Rigoberto Jimenez who had been in a very popular movie called American Me which was loosely based on actual events and persons. In the movie there is a prison rape scene which so infuriated the real members of the gang, that the film was modeled on, that the leaders of the gang retaliated by killing the consultants who had advised the director Edward James Olmos on the films authenticity.
I was born in 1978 and in that epoch a rash of films were made with names like, Nazi Love Camp 27, The Last Orgy of the Third Reich, She Devils of the SS which is inspired by Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, Lager 5 L’Inferno delle Donne, Le Deportate della Sezione Speciale SS and The Black Gestapo which was a melange of Nazi sexploitation and blaxploitation, just to name a few. Many of these films were Italian and most of them were made between 1976 and 1978. But the larger point is that this was such a tremendously popular and widely excepted form of entertainment that it launched the career of Tinto Brass with his Salon Kitty and almost ended the career of Luchino Visconti who’s The Damned was a colossal flop. The Night Porter by Liliana Cavani is the only movie that I’m aware of directed by a woman dealing with the subject of a woman exploited, raped and killed by Nazis. It’s a serious film and very scary. And so I walk gingerly into the 21st century. Where Angels Fear to Tread comes from a line in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism: “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.