Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Hand Outstretched…

Films of Robert Beavers: Program I

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure
Robert Beavers in person
presented in collaboration with the Pacific Film Archive & the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The films of Robert Beavers are exceptional for their visual beauty, aural texture and depth of emotional expression. Born in 1949 in Brookline, Massachusetts, Beavers began to make films in the mid-sixties in New York City. By the end of that decade, he had relocated to Europe with fellow American filmmaker Gregory J. Markopoulos, who would be his lifelong companion until Markopoulos’ death in 1992. The majority of Beavers’ films were shot in the 1970s and 1980s in Italy, Switzerland and Greece. Between 1994 and 2002, the artist involved himself in re-editing the images and creating new soundtracks for his eighteen-film cycle, entitled My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure. Beavers’ films occupy a noble place within the history of avant-garde film, positioned at the intersection of structural and lyrical filmmaking traditions. They seem to embody the ideals of the Renaissance in their fascination with perception, psychology, literature, the natural world, architectural space, musical phrasing and aesthetic beauty. The act of making things by hand is central to Beavers’ cinema, as are the notions of self-reflexivity and portraiture. (Susan Oxtoby)

This long-awaited presentation of Robert Beavers’ film cycle has been organized by the Pacific Film Archive in partnership with San Francisco Cinematheque and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is presented with the generous support of the San Francisco Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Consulate General of Switzerland. For more information about the PFA screenings, taking place October 13-20, visit here.

[members: $7 / non-members: $10]
Order advance tickets here.

AMOR, uses themes of cutting and sewing as metaphors. Cloth is cut and fabric is sewn, shrubs are trimmed and hedges form majestic garden archways and a male figure claps his hands as if to signal a sync-cue on which there is a visual cut. Central to this work are the complex emotions surrounding love, separation and the metonymic twinning of objects, including that of edited image and sutured sound. Work Done, transports the viewer to a variety of times and places. Old-world customs (ice blocks used for refrigeration, the ancient craft of book binding and the preparation of pig’s blood pancakes) are juxtaposed with contemporary urban scenes. Color filters heighten the contrast between the natural and man-made worlds. Shot in Rome, The Hedge Theater, is inspired by the Baroque architecture and stone carvings of Francesco Borromini and St. Martin and the Beggar, a painting by the Sienese artist Stefano di Giovanni (more commonly known as il Sassetta). Beavers contrasts the sensuous softness of winter light with the lush green growth brought by spring rains. Each shot and each source of sound is steeped in meaning and placed within the film’s structure to build a poetic relationship between sound and image. The program concludes with Beavers’ most recent film, Pitcher of Colored Light, a loving portrait of his mother depicted in her Massachusetts home and garden, shot across several seasons. (Susan Oxtoby)