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The Independent Culture
"They're all my stories, but it's not like they happened to me or anything. I didn't kill my mother," says Gary Goldberg. The performance artist-turned-director is meditating in his desultory Brooklyn drawl on the series of his short films showing at the ICA this week. A collection of perverse vignettes unearthed from the bowels of New York's underground film scene, they feature Warhol superstar Taylor Mead, Richard Kern and Bill Rice.

One round and seedily cherubic, the other tall and ratchet-faced, Kern and Rice are a kind of cross-dressing Laurel and Hardy, whose adventures include the mother- slaughtering scenario Goldberg refers to, in which Rice's homicidal nanny kicks a pram containing a bouncing baby Kern (in bumper nappy and enormous bootees) before pumping bullets into his charge's transvestite mother.

The self-taught and fiercely idiosyncratic director ("I can't see a reason to move the camera around") began his career as a photographer without a camera - "You know when you put a leaf on a piece of paper in the sun? That kind of thing." Played out in real time with barely any sound, his static tableaux clearly owe much to still photography, although he does admit having a soft spot for early cinema. "Oh yeah, I love that stuff - Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin; even earlier things like the Keystone Cops," he says. Having chosen veteran performers from the performance- art scene that he was himself a part of for many years, Goldberg found that they weren't capable of that sort of slapstick. "That was alright," he says, "because my movies are about psychology rather than physicality."

This ethos includes the psychology of the audience. "Most underground film-makers are into rapid editing, changing film-stock and as much variety as possible to excite the audience," Goldberg says, "but that isn't my goal. I'm interested in framing the image, the process of cinema. The camera may not move but a lot of work goes into my films." But aren't repetitive scenes played out in silence a kind of torture? "That wasn't my aim," he counters, stung by the idea of anything so declasse as striving for an emotional response. "I have no interest in manipulating people's thoughts or feelings - although I'm perfectly willing to let the audience get excited if they want to," he adds politely.

`Double Trouble' is at the ICA, The Mall, London, SW1 (0171-930 3647) 29, 30 April 6.30pm & 8.30pm $5