Lemon by Hollis Frampton
16mm, color, silent, 7 minutes, 1969

The locus of Lemon’s wit is the way its deliberate smallness – it runs a mere seven minutes, and the only item on screen is a small piece of fruit – transmutes into such big ideas and associations. Not only does it reference such art-history traditions as the still life and the nude – many have pointed out the lemon’s resemblance to a female breast – but by virtue of the light and shadow traveling around its surface, it puts us in mind of the sun, the moon, planetary motion, the silent music of the cosmos. There are darker implications too, as Frampton knew when he described the lemon as “devoured by the same light that reveals it.” It is as if Frampton is saying, “All we have here is a lemon, a light, and some film – and look how much can be done with it!” A simple idea, executed with conceptual rigor and technical finesse, can bring forth a surprising complexity. Look into the lemon.

Andy Ditzler, January 2006

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