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Program One: Edward Owens

Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts. Edward Owens. 1968-70.  Courtesy The Film-Makers’ Cooperative.

Assembly of Images: On Histories of Race and Representation
Program One: Edward Owens

view this program February 8–28, 2021 at
www.sfmoma.org/program-one-edward-owens/

Assembly of Images: On Histories of Race and Representation is a three-month series featuring films by that explore and provide counterpoint to the history of race and the representation of African Americans in cinema and photographic traditions. These works are steeped in memory, history and deeply personal imaginings that linger in between lived realities and cinematic dreaming. Grounded in experimental formats, nonfiction impulses and independent filmmaking, these selections reframe and remix representations of joy and love, identity and perception, struggle and resilience and harness the power in claiming the narrative, mining archives and sharing histories. Full series details here.

Assembly of Images is curated by Gina Basso, Manager of Film Programs, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and co-presented by San Francisco Cinematheque and SFMOMA.


SCREENING: Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts (1966) by Edward Owens; 16mm screened as digital video, color, silent, 9 minutes. Remembrance: A Portrait Study (1967) by Edward Owens; 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 6 minutes. Both exhibition files from the Film-Makers’ Cooperative. 


Edward Owens was a queer Black artist who worked in painting, sculpture and 8mm film at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1960s. He settled in New York and became part of a burgeoning late 1960s underground filmmaking scene. Although not a prolific filmmaker, Owens made several experimental films, largely portraits and intimate studies of his own family and their circle. The achingly beautiful Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts is a silent work that fuses a baroque painterly style and photographic sensibility with experimental montage. Portraits of his mother adorned in fanciful costumes and striking regal poses are superimposed with other images to create a dreamlike world bridging realities of life with fantasy and desire. The moving collage Remembrance: A Portrait Study, richly colored in warm tones and lighting and featuring a pop soundtrack, offers a follow-up portrait of Owens’s mother, Mildered, as she lounges with friends sharing drinks, cigarettes and friendship.

Related Screening: This program is paired with Always Moving: African American Portraiture in Film, an online screening which will be available for viewing March 1–March 30, 2021 (with a special livestream featuring additional works on Saturday, April 24, 2021. See full details and view the program here.