40/81 Breakfast in Grey
Kren in New Hampshire, New England. Together with friends he lived from the demolition of wooden houses and sale of the wood. Kren was the “nail puller”.
Breakfast im Grauen is another diaristic film, featuring a wry homage to Manet´s Le Déjeuner sur l´herbe (Lunch on the Grass), which so scandalized official taste in Paris in the 1860s. Grauen has a double meaning in German. It is both dawn(ing), daybreak and horror, dread. The verb grauen also means to grow grey or to have a horror of or aversion to - I dread. Breakfast in Grey (the film is in black and white) or Breakfast in Dread, may yet find its way into a Salon des refusés of film. Appreciators of Kren´s earlier films may find it too loosely constructed, too reliant on the individual image.
The homage imagery involves a crew of workmen eating breakfast on the job. The camera angle is low, subordinate. After a bit, Kren climbs into the image from below, abandoning the camera, drinking from a half-gallon of milk. He is barechested, thus replacing the nude in the Déjeuner sur l´herbe. In the same way that the fact of the nude woman among proper gentlemen in Le Déjeuner was unsettling to 19th Century Parisian viewers of painting, Kren´s direct, even crude representation will disturb many sophisticated structuralists.
By actually entering the image himself, Kren confuses the issue of reflexivity. He enters the image as a worker. From the interview, I learned that this imagery dates from Kren´s days of working for a New England wood salvage company. He worked as a denailer, removing the fasteners that hold structures together.
The film also includes more meta-film footage, of a film crew setting up, soundpeople with mics, etc., filming in a garbage dump with a cast of thousands of seagulls. In the film being made, Kren plays the garbage collector, who tells the film crew to look elsewhere for their material.
(David Levi Strauss, "Notes on Kren: Cutting Through Structural Materialism or, `Sorry. It had to be done.´," in: Cinematograph I, San Francisco 1985)