Small Kitchens

We are beginning to produce a new artdoc, Small Kitchens, about three small restaurants in Queens. I plan to collaborate on this with a composer. Consequently, I'm thinking about docs involving close interaction between composers and directors that I admire, and about which I've taught and written, such as Redes, photographed by Paul Strand in Mexico in the early 1930s and edited to the composition of the same name by Silvestre Revueltas, or The Plow that Broke the Plains, another Depression-era docuprop, which Strand, in fact, helped shoot and that director Pare Lorentz cut to Virgil Thomson's original score. (Strand resigned from the New Deal project midshoot, because its liberal message deviated from the photographer's leftist politics.) More recently, the collaborations between artdoc maker Bill Morrison and the likes of Bill Frisell, Philip Glass, and Michael Gordon, exemplify ethereal synergy between music and film form, not as audiovisual companionship but as artistic cocreation.


Editing a doc, especially an artdoc, especially Small Kitchens––which will move rhythmically through three sites––is visual music; the beats its cuts create as well as how the film's sections interrelate audiovisually as movements is music. I look forward to editing to an original score composed independently but based on shared themes.

One of Small Kitchens' three sites is a Pakastani kabab shop, another is a Mexican taco truck, each in the same neighborhood. As I ate lunch in the kabab locale the other day, where one of the long-time workers is from Mexico, a patron entered and ordered in Spanish, translating between foods, tortilla for naan, for example. The clip embedded here is not footage for the film, and it does not preview this artdoc's imagined form––but it does evoke, really explicates, the crosscultural environment in which Small Kitchens operates, not between different spaces in one neighborhood (as in the film to come) but, in this instance, in one place, in my neighborhood.