Journals folds under a somewhat unwieldy subject

1,000 Journals

on August 08, 2008 by Sara Schieron
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Less a documentary film than a document of a social and artistic experiment, 1,000 Journals tracks the history of the titular project begun by San Francisco artist “Someguy” in the summer of 2000. Though the film is short, the subject it tracks is somewhat unwieldy, and you can almost feel the hands of writer/director/producer Andrea Kreuzhage stretching to fit it all in—a Herculean task. Sadly, finding profits in the theatres will be similarly Herculean, and this film’s better future will lie in museum-store DVD sales.

The 1,000 Journals Project began when Someguy, inspired by graffiti and bathroom-stall murals, decided to disseminate the public art pieces he came upon. He did this by photographing these paintings and covering 1,000 journals with the images—as a result the public/private aspects of the paintings and the journals are sweetly explicit and yet somewhat understated. Someguy numbered the decorated journals and put them in locations with a stamp explaining the books should be written in and returned to Someguy when full. Of course, he lost most of them. It was three years before he got one back, but that one journal was pretty exhilarating.

In companion with the journals is a website which features directions. Participants shouldn’t keep the journals longer than a month and once the project period is done, the journal should be sent to the next person on a lengthy waiting list. This waiting list serves as proof of the journal’s desirability and similarly speaks to the sort of “scattered seeds” these journals are; prosaically finding fertile soil on the internet as opposed to being lost on the winds in the outside world.

As the project is guided by whatever person happens upon the journal, and as the people most inclined to be creative in the journals also appear to be those who are most likely to lose or keep said journals, the psychology of the project makes it one subject to a great deal of (shall we say) inefficiency. But efficiency isn’t the goal here, neither for the project or the film. Kreuzhage clearly shows a lot of affection for this subject, traveling to France and Croatia, New York and Melbourne, but her doc meanders like the journals it tracks and not completely in a good way. The tempo makes it a tad difficult to maintain attention, even with all the explicit love cries for the importance of the project. Yet, like the presence of this project on the internet, Kreuzhage is performing a service by collecting the seeds and creating for the journals another sort of fertile ground.

Distributor: Louise Rosen Ltd.
Cast: Someguy, Leslie Jonath, Kevin Toyama, Brooke Johnson, Patti Quill, and Ruth Keffer
Screenwriter/Director/Producer: Andrea Kreuzhage
Genre: Documentary
Running time: 88 min.
Rating: Unrated
Release date: August 1 SF

Tags: artists, documentary, Someguy, Leslie Jonath, Kevin Toyama, Brooke Johnson, Patti Quill, Ruth Keffer, Andrea Kreuzhage
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