Friday, February 20, 2015, 12:00 am

Inevitability of Forgetting:
Films of Lewis Klahr—We Live in Cities and Pass through Varied Ambiances…

Lewis Klahr in Person


992 Valencia Street (at 21st Street)

San Francisco, CA 94110

presented in association with the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University 
$10 general/ $5 Cinematheque members. Advance tickets available here.

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Let the dreams you have forgotten equal the value of what you do not know…
—Andre Breton and Paul Eluard: The Original Judgement

Working for over three decades, filmmaker Lewis Klahr is known for an extensive body of films based in collage, associational montage and cut-out animation grounded in elements of 20th Century popular culture, including advertising imagery, comic books, catalogs and ephemeral artifacts. While referring evocatively to collective American history, Klahr’s oblique, obsessive and idiosyncratic approach to this history and its material culture—suggestive of the hermetic personal yearnings of Joseph Cornell and the dreaming wander of the surrealist flâneur—belies a unique nostalgia and sense of personal mythology all his own. Appearing in person for two screenings, Klahr will present a selective mini-retrospective focusing on two important aspects of his work. Join us on February 19 for films which grapple with Memory—including False Aging, Daylight Moon, Engram Sepals and Helen of T—and, on February 20—a survey of films on lives in The City, including his newest film, The Occidental Hotel.

In his tales of lost souls and dreaming drifters, The City looms large in the films of Lewis Klahr as a site of mystery, chance occurrence, loves lost and found. For this second of two in-person presentations Klahr presents a unique program of works selected especially for this screening as prequel and herald to an important new artistic direction. Featuring Klahr’s newest work, The Occidental Hotel (2014)—a mash-up of European street photography and Mexican comic books and an oblique evocation of urban transience, espionage and the surrealist drift—this program will present a career-spanning selection of earlier films (1992–2001) derived from the urban dérive. Notable in this program are a number of early, lesser known films which combine Klahr’s trademark cutout animation with first-person live action camera work. Program to include: City Film, a Lower East Side light-and-color study filmed 1988–92 (and screened as original Kodachome Super-8); The Aperture of Ghostings, a three-part suite (Elsa Kirk, Catherine Street and Creased Robe Smile) of “hieroglyphic montage,” drawn from lost-and-found photos, circa 1963; Whirligigs In The Late Afternoon, a personal love story of the artist’s life in New York City; and Green ’62, a portal to an older New York, conjured from a curved glass restaurant window on the Bowery.

NOTE: This special once-in-a-lifetime screening—never before presented in this configuration—will also include additional films by Klahr not in distribution as well as camera rolls, rushes and other film fragments, anonymous home movies from the artist’s personal collection and more, all presented with generous introductions and context. (Steve Polta)