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Letters from Lockdown #2: Adina Glickstein

In response to Roderigo Garay's first Letter from Lockdown, Talent Press 2020 member Adina Glickstein replies...

Hi friends,

It’s been an emotional trip to read Rodrigo’s thoughts — our correspondence brings me back to February, now almost a full year ago, when we exchanged letters on Kluge’s Orphea (a fever dream I still have yet to make sense of) and William Klein’s portrait of Eldridge Cleaver.

For my part, I’ve barely watched movies since the pandemic began. My cinephilia, I fear, has become another casualty of the time: escaping to the cinema and settling in as the lights go down was the central fulcrum of my experience as a film lover, and laptop screen spectatorship seems a poor stand-in. This is less an index of my own pretentious viewing habits than it is a reflection of the fact that I now work remotely, meaning that I spend roughly 12 hours a day staring at my laptop screen. I’m reminded of a meme from the before-times, where a white-collar office worker sits at their desk, thinking about how much they can’t wait to leave work (“Bad Screen”) and go home to look at the Good Screen. What becomes of life when the Good Screen and Bad Screen have collapsed into a single backlit retina display?

Perhaps fittingly, then, my favorite film of 2020 was not so much a film as it was a series of short videos released on Instagram: Meriem Bennani and Orian Barki’s Two Lizards, a saga of two animated reptiles weathering the early months of the pandemic in my adoptive home city of New York. At the time of its release, I was living at my parents’ house in Colorado, suddenly feeling cut off from the city I had come to love over the last four years. Bennani’s work held a particularly special place in my heart this summer, as the last gallery exhibition I saw IRL before this spring’s abrupt wave of closures was her video installation at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin, “Party on the CAPS.” That was when we were all together at Berlinale — I stole away for an afternoon to go gallery-hopping, a premonition of the fact that this year would officially render me a bad cinephile.

My spectatorial dry spell has been peppered with a couple of beloved features: Pia Hellenthal’s Searching Eva, Jessie Rovinelli’s So Pretty, and I’m seconding Rodrigo’s affinity for Hong’s The Woman Who Ran. Sara Cwynar’s online exhibition at Foxy Production, including her newest release Barney’s New York — an ode to the bygone department store, which all my friends in the city shoplifted from unrelentingly in the weeks leading up to its closure — was another high point of early quarantine.

I’m growing sick of my own low-effort media diet, to be honest, but my focus has been shattered lately. I fear that long days of Instagram-scrolling and the constant incursion of work Slacks has done real violence to my attention span, so I’m hoping to read more this holiday season — if I can get my screen-time under four hours a day, that’ll feel like a major victory. But I look forward, with all my heart, to the day when we can safely gather in the darkened cinema again, and I hope you’ll be waiting for me, saving me a seat.

In solidarity,
Adina