A Sentimental Punk is a two-part retrospective presented in association with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Canyon Cinema Foundation and The Lab. Curated by Megan Hoetger and Black Hole Cinematheque. Completely different programs each night.
Program 1—Saturday, September 22: Filming Media Cultures/Material Fusions.
Introductions by Megan Hoetger and Steve Anker. Details here.
Program 2—Sunday, September 23: Imaging Public Space/Action!
Introductions by Steve Polta and Black Hole Cinematheque. Details here.
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“In the disputed histories which built the house of film he [Kren] was momentarily but unforgivably denied; now he haunts the house with rude and playful shadows.” – Mark McElhatten, Curator of “Views from the Avant-Garde,” New York Film Festival, 1997-2013
Pioneering Austrian experimental filmmaker Kurt Kren (b. Vienna, 1929; d. Vienna 1998) is an elusive yet persistent figure in twentieth-century histories of both performance- and film-based experimentation. His practice was idiosyncratic to say the least, staked in experimentation across media communication platforms in film and the visual arts no matter where that took him—from cooperative theaters, midnight screenings at commercial theaters, fringe film festivals in abandoned subway stations and punk shows in warehouses; to art schools, artist studios, galleries and international art and film festivals, across nations and continents. In projects ranging from pseudo-pornographic collaborations with the Austrian performance art group known as the Vienna Actionists, to meticulously durational records of everyday space and time, to self-reflexive ‘documents’ of film cooperative life and experimental worlds, Kren combined and re-combined structural film techniques with inquiries into social space, re-constituting what ‘film about film’ or ‘film as film’ might mean.
Most often Kren’s practice is understood chronologically in film history, moving from his reflexive film works of the 1960s, to his classic structural phase of the 1970s, and, finally, into his “home movie” experiments (often deemed of lesser importance) made in the 1980s during his time in the United States. In art history his films make a singular and explosive appearance by way of his “Action films” of the mid-1960s, which loom large in histories of visual art performance and, specifically, in genealogies of Body Art that include Viennese Actionism. Kren’s practice, it turns out, rudely and playfully haunts numerous houses in which the moving image resides.
The assembly of this retrospective program disregards inherited historical boundaries that isolate the practice into a series of stages, and, instead, takes up Kren’s body of works through a series of thematic groupings, which point outward to the numerous histories that his rude and playful shadows haunt—from film and art, to media and communication, to underground and counter-culture movements…
A Sentimental Punk is a two-day program in celebration of Kren’s work and life. September 20th would have been Kren’s 89th birthday. This year, 2018, marks the 20-year anniversary of Kren’s death; and it was also in 1998, four months before his death, that the last retrospective of Kren’s works took place in San Francisco. So. Then. A retrospective, a birthday, an anniversary, and a homecoming of sorts. So much to celebrate. Come party with us. (Megan Hoetger)
Image Credit: 42/83: No Film (1983) by Kurt Kren.