Thursday, March 4, 2010

75 Years in the Dark: Material & Illusion

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

75 Years in the Dark: SFMOMA Screenings 1960-1985

SFMOMA resumed regular screenings in early 1967 and continuing through late 1978, presenting programs sometimes once and at other times several times per week. During these years, Bob White, Edith Kramer, Mel Novikoff and Ken DeRoux were the curators. The programming was eclectic and strong, including classic films of all eras and nationalities. It primarily included contemporary independent narrative and documentary features from around the world but also had a steady presence of avant-garde films by local and non-local artists. The three-program series will begin by focusing on several avant-garde films by filmmakers whose work the museum highlighted during this period. In addition, independent features will be included in the second and third programs that are reflective of the daring and informed series and retrospectives that each curator initiated. In keeping with the spirit of the time, these programs will be eclectic; I have invited two critic-curators, Irina Leimbacher and Bérénice Reynaud, to expand the horizons of this mini-series. Of course, the range of what was shown can only be hinted at in three programs but hopefully the originality and depth of what was accomplished can begin to be acknowledged and appreciated. (STEVE ANKER)

75 Years in the Dark: Material & Illusion
curated & introduced by Steve Anker
presented in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

From 1960-1985, artist-made, personal 16mm and 8mm films flourished. Hundreds, if not thousands, of works of imagination, originality and high quality were made throughout the country and in many parts of the world. This survey primarily includes non-local avant-garde artists since Bay Area filmmakers will be the focus of a massive Pacific Film Archive and San Francisco Cinematheque series in Fall 2010. Most non-Bay Area filmmakers who appeared at the museum during these years were absorbed by embracing and extolling the medium and this selection includes, among others, the pure abstraction of Kubelka’s kinesthetically precise flicker film (Arnulf Rainer), Brakhage’s seminal direct-film interplay of moths and plants (Mothlight) and Rimmer’s (Surfacing on the Thames) and Gehr’s (Reverberation) meditations on the surface of the image itself. It then shifts to films that challenge the implied, simple truth of what the camera records or that question the logic apparent in montage, as in Baillie’s Castro Street, O’Neill’s Saugus Series and Conner’s Take the 5:10 To Dreamland. The concluding film, Gunvor Nelson’s Frame Line, is the most personal and was shown at the museum on a program of SECA award winners; it contemplates images of various kinds to ruminate on displacement. (STEVE ANKER)

Peter Kubelka: Arnulf Rainer (1958-60), 6.5 min.
Stan Brakhage: Mothlight (1963), 4 min.
Robert Breer: A Man & His Dog Out for Air (1957), 3 min.
Len Lye: Kaleidoscope (1935), 3 min.
David Rimmer: Surfacing on the Thames (1970), 8 min.
Ernie Gehr: Reverberation (1969, revised 1986), 8 min.
Bruce Baillie: Castro Street (1966), 10 min.
Pat O’Neill: Saugus Series (1974), 18 min.
Maya Deren: A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945), 3 min.
Bruce Conner: Take the 5:10 to Dreamland (1977), 6 min.
Gunvor Nelson: Frame Line (1984), 22 min.