The film wasn’t made to be beautiful, yet between the pouring and the shaking and the churning, and the bird’s-eye views of trucks navigating a terrain that may well be on the moon, Ready Mix is not without its “seductive moments,” to borrow a phrase from Lowry. Raven herself admits that as she looked back over the footage, certain frames appeared to her like Abstract Expressionist paintings: “When I was editing, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to jump to the Frankenthaler,’” she says, “or like, ‘Oh, wait, the Pollock needs a little work.’”
To accompany the exhibition, contributors to a publication on Raven due in June have assembled some recommended texts in Dia Chelsea’s talk space. Books on American history lie alongside volumes on concrete poetry. Raven realized as she was making the film that there was concrete photography, concrete poetry, and musique concrète, but no such thing as “concrete cinema.” Yet all of those forms offer a useful framework for engaging with both of Raven’s pieces. Set aside, for a moment, their formidable technical and ideological complexities, and give yourself over to the experience—the encounter—as you might a montage of recorded sounds, or an early poem by Carl Andre. You may be surprised by what you find.
Dia Chelsea opens to the public on April 16. For visiting information, see here.