covalences: works from black hole collective film lab
Program online December 10, 2020–January 10, 2021
Since at least the 1940s, the San Francisco Bay Area has been one of the world’s epicenters of personally expressive filmmaking and community-focused non-mainstream film culture. At the close of a tumultuous and even traumatic year, Cinematheque culminates its 2020 exhibitions with Commingled Containers: Echoes from the Bay, two guest-curated programs highlighting recent works by Bay Area filmmakers and celebrating the continuously-renewing, ever-evolving traditions of the region’s vibrant artist communities. Representing the very tip of an iceberg, these programs provide contemporary (sliver-like and subjective; by no means comprehensive) snapshot perspectives as we close the 21st Century’s second decade. (Steve Polta)
Black Hole Collective Film Lab (BHCFL) began in 2014 as an organized effort to provide an affordable community film lab in West Oakland, California (situated on unceded Chochenyo and Ohlone territory). As a group focusing on non-commercial photochemical image-making in the “digital age,” we are part of a growing international network of artist-run film labs working toward the reclamation of the means of production from a rapidly disappearing industry, to preserve and make accessible an endangered tradition of artmaking.
This program was collectively curated by members of BHCFL, many of us Bay Area-born or longtime residents. Working in opposition to the myth of formal purity and in rejection of traditional curatorial patterns and practices, works incorporated in this program spawn from a variety of moving image formats and are not limited to films made within the physical premises of the lab. This speaks to our belief that the entity of the collective exists outside of the merely geographical spaces it inhabits. By working in both material and conceptual proximity to each other, we inform a common language, a set of aesthetic and political inquiries in each other’s work.
Due to pressures brought on by the Bay Area housing crisis, the continued lack of public resources for artists and other ongoing forms of precarity, our membership has fluctuated and experienced several permutations predating our brick and mortar space. We are indebted to early members who helped lay the framework of the collective.
This program contains work by current members, including those who have left the Bay Area following the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-representation and inclusivity were a priority in our curatorial process; the majority of works were self-selected by their makers. On the one hand, this program represents to us a memorial for pre-pandemic life and on the other, an act of radical self-determination: onward movement into the fiery flames of the future. (Black Hole Collective Film Lab)
SCREENING: Auricon Test #2 (2020) by Black Hole Collective Film Lab; 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 2 minutes. from within a great silence (2019) by tamara suarez porras; digital video, b&w, silent, 8 minutes. No Land (2019) by Emily Chao; 16mm screened as digital video, b&w, silent, 1 minute. Searching For Beauty in Student Loan Debt or at Least the Envelopes in Which it Comes (2019) by Nicky Tavares; 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 6 minutes. breathing (2020) by arc; 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 5 minutes; Ansias (2018) by Norma Córdova, aka shesaidred; 16mm screened as digital video, b&w, sound, 3 minutes. Light Isle (2019) by Matthew Hidy; 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 4 minutes. last gleaming (sketch #1) (2019) by Alix Blevins; 16mm screened as digital video, color, silent, 3 minutes. eyesore (2020) by Zack Parrinella; 16mm screened as digital video, b&w, sound, 5 minutes. Goodbye Pig (2014) by Anna Geyer; 16mm screened as digital video, 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 5 minutes. Permanent Obsolescence (2020) by Patricia Ledesma Villon; digital video, color, sound, 7 minutes. Luminous Experiences (2020) by Lauren Iverson; Super-8mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 8 minutes. Chromoflex Workshop (2019) by Black Hole Collective Film Lab; 16mm screened as digital video, color, silent, 4 minutes.
Our first test recording optical sound onto 16mm film with an Auricon camera. (BHCFL)
It’s said that people tend to find their way back to the places they are from. Perhaps two people who have never met, yet started their journeys together, can find their way back to each other. (tamara suarez porras)
No land/no song/nowhere/no now/no home. This film is dedicated to Black Hole Collective Film Lab. (Emily Chao)
Don your 3D glasses, open your mind, allow the denial of questionable financial decisions made by an aspiring young artist to dissolve on your tongue and take a trip over 10 years to a delusory destination where the student loan debt crisis and one advanced art degree converge. Lean into the darkness of capitalized interest or remove your glasses and dream in color of solvency that may never come. Energetically steeped in student loan pay-off balances that exceed original borrow amounts and dedicated to all artists who understand but cannot bear to speak of it. This is a handmade cameraless film created by screen printing envelope safe patterns directly onto clear 16mm film in multiple passes of red and cyan. It can be viewed with or without anaglyph 3D glasses. (Nicky Tavares)
A film concerned with the chaotic sphere of disengagement invoked by the threatened subsumption of the sensitive & vibrational biorhythm into the cold & regulated logic of algorithmic capitalist automation. Explored through abyssal bridges of language. Towards the conspiratorial, intersubjective & irregular oscillations of life as resistance. (arc)
After meeting via instagram, the team collaborated and celebrated our love of old silent monster movies. The music’s tone evokes fearful unknowns as a child escapes a shadowy figure. (shesaidred)
The remaining neon signs of the Bay Area stand apart from modern lighted signs in their material characteristics and the history they connote. Light Isle suggests the notion of neon as a medium by emphasizing its simplicity, vibrancy and famous luminescence and questions that if neon’s distinct characteristics allow its recognition as a distinct medium, then do other formats of visual and audio mediums prominently suggest their unique differences? (Matthew Hidy)
My first entry in a series of sketches examining ways of looking at and inhabiting the American post-millennial landscape. an unintentional evocation of pre-pandemic public spaces. (Alix Blevins)
Two opposing strips of film interact with each other as do two opposing facets of society. (Zack Parrinella)
Goodbye Sweet Things that Once Were
A reminiscence of an unknowable past. An homage to “’pigfill” aka “slug,” a reinvinted film, an invented manner of preservation. A found footage film constructed almost entirely of decayed/abused fill. The fill—once spliced into 16mm magnetic audio tracks of another film—had been stored in a wet basement. Water damage had caused the two to stick together. I was asked to replace the fill in order to transfer the audio to a digital medium for preservation purposes. I removed and spliced the bits of discarded picture together and projected it in an effort to gain some understanding of the original footage. Later I reprinted it, via the optical printer, fascinated by the bits of picture/past left unobscured by the residual blotches of mag, and in doing so I literally watched its continued demise; its further fall into chaos. (Anna Geyer)
Memory revisited, superstition transformed. Document as replaceable and rewritten form. Seeking a way out of the past. (Patricia Ledesma Villon)
A meditation on the supernatural in natural occurrences. How is magic made… and can it be measured? (Lauren Iverson)
Footage from a workshop in early 2019 led by Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie, founders of nanolab, a small gauge film lab based in Australia. (BHCFL)
tamara suarez porras is an artist, writer, and educator from (south) Brooklyn, NY and based in the Bay Area. Her work explores knowing, remembering, and forgetting. Often beginning with photographs from personal and vernacular archives, she considers how through photography one attempts to know the unknowable.
Emily Chao is a filmmaker based in the SF Bay Area. She is a co-programmer of Light Field, an international exhibition of moving image art on celluloid and a member of Black Hole Collective Film Lab in Oakland, CA. She is from San Jose, California and earned her MFA in Film/Video at the California Institute of the Arts.
Nicky Tavares is a multimedia artist whose work sheds light on systemic inequalities through personal storytelling. Her work has been shown internationally in both gallery and screening rooms, including New Directors/New Films at MoMA and Lincoln Center; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; TIE: The International Experimental Film Exposition; IMPAKT Festival and Medianale Festival. Nicky is currently an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Grinnell College.
arc refers to a process rather than an author. a curve within a void which makes something momentarily visible. material elements used to investigate immaterial states. framing the space of encounter as a site of unfixed ritual and sensory research. arc work has been presented at The Lab, San Francisco Cinematheque, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Mass Art Film Society (Boston), NDSM Treehouse (Amsterdam) and L’Abominable (Paris/La Courneuve), among other venues.
Norma Córdova, aka shesaidred is Mexican-American analog photographer and filmmaker. Her film Un Ostión has screened at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Theater and she just received “Critical Mass Top 50” from Photolucida. She is a member of Black Hole Collective Film Lab and lives and works in Oakland CA. When not in the darkroom or filming, you’ll find her interpreting for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.
Matthew Hidy is an archivist, projectionist, film preservationist, and filmmaker. He is dedicated to ensuring the means of analog and photochemical film exhibition, preservation and production can be accessible to anyone in the Bay Area to the greatest extent possible. He works with 16mm and 35mm in his own artistic practice. Matthew is a member of Black Hole Collective Film Lab.
Alix Blevins is a filmmaker, curator and projectionist from the Bay Area. She is a member of Black Hole Collective Film Lab and has taught workshops on handmade and DIY filmmaking practices. Alix also co-organizes an artist-made film screening series in Oakland called the latent image which was awarded a 2019 Southern Exposure grant. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts.
Zack Parinella is a filmmaker and traveling notary. He lives in Oakland.
Anna Geyer is an experimental filmmaker and writer. A fascination with non-traditional methods of both production and presentation is apparent in her work. Cameraless, non-representational work has been the emphasis of much of her recent efforts, although she frequently describes her work as “experimental with a narrative bent.” Her work also includes live three projector loop sets performed in collaboration with local musicians. These performances utilize the technology of the past and present and include abstract, live action and degraded imagery of the digital age.
Patricia Ledesma Villon was born and raised in the southeastern San Francisco Bay Area and is currently based in Oakland CA. In addition to being a member of Black Hole Collective Film Lab she is a co-programmer for Light Field, an international exhibition of experimental moving image art on celluloid held in San Francisco. She is currently a graduate student at UCLA’s Media Archival Studies program.
Lauren Iverson lives and works in the beautiful Bay Area. Her films are playful attempts to explore the dialectic tensions that emerge from our perception of the built and natural world. Her practice prioritizes analog film as a tool for paying close attention.