pictured above: The Fullness of Time (2008) by Cauleen Smith
SCREENING: Not the Black (2008) digital video, color, sound, 2 minutes, exhibition file from the maker; Sine at the Canyon Sine at the Sea (2016) digital video, color, sound, 7 minutes, exhibition file from the maker; Songs for Earth and Folk (2013) digital video, color, sound, 11 minutes, exhibition file from the maker; The Fullness of Time (2008) digital video, color, sound, 50 minutes, exhibition file from the maker. All by Cauleen Smith.
“Everything I make is just an offering. I think of my work as a contribution to the histories of the Black diasporas and our powers of invention, survival and generativity.” — Cauleen Smith.
Filmmaker Cauleen Smith is best known for Afro-futurist cinematic works that weave intimate narratives of love, yearning and the dream-world with known histories, imagined landscapes and broader cultural symbols to activate collective memory. In partnership with the 4 Star Theater’s monthly Variable Density series, San Francisco Cinematheque presents Smith’s The Fullness of Time (2008). Described by the artist as a “science-fiction rumination on space, place, and post-traumatic stress,” the loosely episodic work, filmed in a neorealist style in New Orleans immediately post-Katrina, is a unique hybrid of documentary and dystopian sci-fi chronicling the wanderings of a “sister from another planet” through the devastation of that city while ruminating on the rage, grief and collective resilience of its residents. Also screening are three short works by Smith: Not the Black (2008), Sine at the Canyon Sine at the Sea (2016) and Songs for Earth and Folk (2013).
Not the Black (2008)
Landscape call and responses facilitated by Earth, Wind and Fire echoes, Ivory Soap glaciers and a text from Cormac McCarthy.
Sine at the Canyon Sine at the Sea (2016)
Sine at the Canyon Sine at the Sea began as a video designed to be background eye-candy at an outdoor performance event and evolved, at the invitation of Chris Stults and Genevieve Yue, into a protest against the reverberations of the neo-fascist nonsense percolating in American culture right now. (Cauleen Smith)
Songs for Earth and Folk (2013)
Earth sings a melancholic tale of disappointment. Folk fail to listen until it’s too late. We End. […] a found footage film structured like a blues song with a live-improvised electro-organic soundtrack created by Chicago-based band The Eternals. (Alexis Pauline Gumbs, VDrome). Film commissioned by Chicago Film Archives.
The Fullness of Time (2008)
In The Fullness of Time, Smith repurposes the languages of physicists and astronomers to decode the rage and grief, elation and hope that surround the contemporary reality of New Orleans. A “sister from another planet” is sent to earth to explore the terrain and learn our ways. As she wanders the streets of the post-Katrina city, the viewer is left to wonder if this solitary character is indeed an alien, or perhaps just one more person trying to make sense of the passage of time, the enormity of loss, and the new landscapes of New Orleans. The Fullness of Time was shot on location in New Orleans in collaboration with Kalamu Ya Salaam and STUDENTS AT THE CENTER, and was part of Creative Time and Paul Chan’s recent project Waiting for Godot in New Orleans.
Cauleen Smith was raised in Sacramento, California and lives in Los Angeles. Smith is faculty in the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture. Smith holds a BA in Creative Arts from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater Film and Television. Smith’s short films, feature film, an installation and performance were work showcased at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019. Smith has had solo exhibitions at The Whitney Museum of American Art, MassMoCA and LACMA. Smith is the recipient of the following awards: Rockefeller Media Arts Award, Creative Capital Film/Video, Chicago 3Arts Grant, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Chicago Expo Artadia Award, and Rauschenberg Residency, Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts in Film and Video 2016, United States Artists Award 2017, 2016 inaugural recipient of the Ellsworth Kelly Award, 2020 recipient of the Studio Museum Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize and 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship.
Photo credit: Joshua Franzos