Erik Belgum

Rolf Belgum
Interview

Still of Dan Cleveland from Rolf Belgum's "Driver 23"

Erik Belgum: Your film "Driver 23" was the first film ever selected for the Biennial that had a single director, editor, and cameraman. It was also shot on a very low budget. Did you notice any tendency toward lower budget work?

Rolf Belgum: For the record, "Driver 23" was shot, edited, directed, produced and distributed for under ten dollars. Erik, that's less than you paid for your copy of Jeff Beck's "Wired."

EB: Wait a minute here. I thought the Hi8 tape you used cost $11.95?

RB: You're forgetting that I used a coupon.

EB: Of course. This year's Whitney Biennial was supposed to be the "People's Biennial" and I understand there was a lot of discussion among the curators and critics about the subject of regionalism and the artistic selection process. So tell me, how was the porno in your New York hotel room?

RB: Erik, first I'd like to say thanks for hosting this most important interview on the "Peoples' Biennial." As far as the porno in my hotel? The "select" button in room 1006 did not respond. I was too embarrassed to call the front desk so I went to Channel 35 which after 1:00 am becomes totally naked. Also, I just came from the eye doctor being tested for a detached retina and my pupils are so big I can barely read these questions. However, the test showed no detached retina.

EB: That must have been a terrific scare ... the thought of a filmmaker going blind ...

RB: I'll tell you what's scary ... the return policy of the Raoul Walsh website!

EB: At the opening, was the discussion of your film at a fairly high level, or was it just kind of a whole bunch of rich people running around acting like douche bags?

RB: Erik, I think there is a tendency in the art world today to minimize rich people running around acting like douche bags. It's a problem I see more from a personal space than a regional or national one.

EB: Tell the readers about the guy you saw blow chunk at the pre-Biennial dinner in that posh New York steak house.

RB: This dumb-looking young guy comes walking by our table at a totally fancy restaurant (which I will not name) then he went up like this to cover up his mouth, he bent from the hip then vomit came out of his mouth twice. It almost sloshed against my sister's (and your sister's) feet. It took so long for the guys to come and clean it up that I almost threw up from the crappy smell of his throw-up. Then they used big white table cloths to sop it up. Then my table toasted me for being in the Biennial.

EB: Who ate more shrimp appetizers at the opening, Harmony Korine or Errol Morris? Also, I have a follow up comment, I bet Morris used a toothpick when he went back for seconds, but Korine ate them right out of the bowl, true or am I way off base?

RB: Korine definitely more shrimp but to my surprise he cradled them in his hands like a baby. A shrimpy little baby. Morris saw this and left early in a huff. He was outraged. Mumbling something about shrimp and regionalism.

EB: Did they have steak at the Biennial?

RB: No, and I was stunned.

EB: I'm sorry. Obviously a tender subject. Is it fair then to say that the issue of steak permeated the 2000 "People's" Biennial?

RB: Right now I'm still too upset to talk about the ... the Sunday night symposium, the food was great I ate so many "little" sandwiches my friend laughed all night. Then we went out and ate again afterwards.

EB: I'd like to get back to this subject of the hors d'oeuvres that were served at the Biennial opening night. Did the appetizers reflect that this was indeed the "People's Biennial?" Can you tell us what was served? How big were the helpings? Could you go back for seconds? One time I was in Nebraska and this steak sandwich place looked really good, and Nebraska's famous for their beef, right? Anyway, the sandwich was gristly and just a huge rip-off. So, I'm wondering how did the Whitney's choice of opening night hors d'oeuvres address issues of regionalism?

RB: I know where you're going with this Erik, and I don't care what anyone says, that Merlot from near Syracuse ranks head and shoulders above many of the Minnesota wines.

EB: It was the first time ever for Internet art at the Biennial, so what did you think about the new Internet art that everyone's talking about? Is it as good as TV? Is it as good as that one "Hogan's Heroes" episode where LeBeau makes the trick apple strudel that puts Schultz to sleep?

RB: Hogan redefined the notion of regionalism in a highly unorthodox manner. Clearly, Hogan is to rhetoric what Haacke is to tunnels. Both burrowing beneath the surface searching for a greater good for all.

EB: Yes. "Hogan's Heroes" was truly a "people's" show about concentration camps. Now, wasn't 2000 Whitney Biennial star Hans Haacke on "Hogan's Heroes" once, or am I mixing him up with someone else? I think he ended up making out with Col. Klink's secretary in that episode.

RB: Ho, ho, ho, remember when Schultz played Santa for the prisoners?

EB: How could I forget? In this Biennial, the curators were all from outside of New York City. Care to comment?

RB: Erik, you must remember, I've been to New York over three times, so I think I know a little something about what makes New Yorkers tick. To answer your question: Yes, they are people. they are people just like you and me.

EB: Did you see the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty?

RB: I told my friend that I couldn't believe King Kong actually climbed on that to save the lady.

EB: If it's a Biennial, then why was it three years since the last one?

RB: It's a something to do with a leap year glitch, spring break, and daylight savings time.

EB: Thanks for your time.

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