Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA
Claiming Space: Collage in Cinema
In Person: Lewis Klahr and Barbara McCullough!
Thursday, January 12, 2017, 7:00 pm
MOCA Grand Avenue, Ahmanson Auditorium, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
In an interview with Carrie Mae Weems, Mickalene Thomas says, “It’s so powerful and beautiful to say that sometimes my gaze is a male gaze and also a female gaze. I’m always conflicted.” The central work in Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady? sees Thomas’ recurrent strategies of collage, fragmentation, and multiplicity transferred to the domain of video, where montage provides the means to embody the conflict. In conjunction with the exhibition, Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA presents a program of experimental films and videos—including the West Coast Premiere of Ephraim Asili’s Kindah as well as films by Santiago Alvarez, Barbara McCullough, Ja’Tovia M. Gary, Jean-Luc Godard, Lewis Klahr, and Betye Saar—that use collage, music, and montage as a way to claim space, create consciousness, or embody a filmic erotics. Klahr and McCullough will be in person to discuss their works.
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TICKETS $12 general admission, $7 students with valid ID
FREE for MOCA & Los Angeles Filmforum members; must present current membership card to claim free tickets.
Tickets available in advance at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/258310
Santiago Alvarez, Now!, 1965,
35mm, black and white, sound, screened on DVD, 5 minutes, 30 seconds
A stark, insistent montage of graphic imagery featuring, as the opening credits announce, “North American blacks and police.” Set to the song “Now!”, sung by Lena Horne, written by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne, the film’s energy and urgency cannot be overstated. —Madison Brookshire
In the current age of Black Lives Matter and the many disturbing videos of black people being murdered by police, Now! remains socially and culturally relevant. It is easy to make the argument that I was Santiago Alvarez’s intended audience. Although it was made over 50 years ago, it almost felt like I was experiencing my own Facebook news feed in 2016. … How can I watch anymore militarized, destructive, and senseless acts against black people and do nothing? What are these images constructed to do? How is the murder of people who look like me still happening? As Lena sang, “we want more than just a promise”, I feel the need to do something right Now! —Brittany Bellinger
Betye Saar, Colored Spade, 1971
16mm, color, sound, screened as digital video, 1 minute, 19 seconds
Visuals: Betye Saar
Photography: Dennis Welch
Song: James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt Mac Dermot
Galvanized by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Saar had begun to work with the racist images of African American people that have been ubiquitous in American culture. Essentially as an exercise, she assembled some such images to make a film, based on the song “Colored Spade” from the contemporary pop musical Hair. The film is introduced by a black ace of spades on a white ground, which is replaced by Saar's own colored drawing of the same shape; then it becomes a dynamic montage of violently caricatured images from late-nineteenth century and early-twentieth century mass culture—prints, greeting cards, sheet music, comics, food containers, and the like—all roughly synchronized with the song's rhythm and words. Many are animated by camera movement across them (like the still images from popular sources in [Wallace] Berman's film) and by zooms, which play against the extremely rapid cutting. When the song invokes fear of the black bogeyman, however, these images of black people are replaced by images of the Klu Klux Klan and other racist organizations, culminating in a photo of white policemen. Saar zooms in on this image to the point where focus is lost, and when she reverse zooms out, it is to reveal figures from the Civil Rights struggles, Dr. King, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, and the raised fists of Black Power. —David James, The Most Typical Avant-Garde
Julie Dash, Four Women, 1975
16mm, color, sound, 7 minutes
Set to Nina Simone’s stirring ballad of the same name, Julie Dash’s dance film features Linda Martina Young as strong “Aunt Sarah,” tragic mulatto “Saffronia,” sensuous “Sweet Thing” and militant “Peaches.” Kinetic camerawork and editing, richly colored lighting, and meticulous costume, makeup and hair design work together with Young’s sensitive performance to turn longstanding Black female stereotypes to oblique, critical angles. —Jacqueline Stewart
Barbara McCullough, Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification, 1979
16mm, black and white, sound, restored to 35mm, screened on DVD, 6 minutes
Water Ritual is a beginning point in my quest to create cathartic experiences for myself and my community by the depiction of symbolic actions that communicate with our ancestral, spiritual past. Time and circumstances have served to separate me and my people from the link with that African past and creation of the film was the attempt to forge a link for the sake of our spiritual and psychological survival. The single character in the film, Milanda, embodies both the past and the future. Through ritual, a communion with the Gods takes place. An offering is made. She sets the stage for future change. —Barbara McCullough
Lewis Klahr, Downs are Feminine, 1994
16mm, color, sound, 10 minutes
Lewis Klahr's Downs are Feminine unveils a kind of rainy day, indoor, peaceable kingdom of desultory and idyllic debauchery, masturbatory reveries and hermaphroditic transformations. Klahr's oneric collages graft '70s porn of pallid stubbly flesh flagrantly onto Good Housekeeping/Architectural Digest decor (varicolored crab-orchard stone foyers, modacrylic sunbursts, jalousie windows and orientalist metal scrollwork), interior states where characters despoil themselves in Quaalude interludes of dreamy couplings. In this out-of-touch realm, touching is intelligence gathering for a carnal knowledge that will never attain its platonic ideal. The whole atmosphere is pervaded with euphoria, a hopelessness without despair, a contentment beyond longing. —Mark McElhatten
Jean-Luc Godard, De l'origine du XXIe siècle (Origins of the 21st Century), 2000
35mm, black and white and color, sound, screened on DVD, 13 minutes
This film is a piece of political and intellectual agitation: mischievous, powerfully unsettling – and as small, neat and pointed as a bullet. —Peter Bradshaw
Ja’Tovia M. Gary, An Ecstatic Experience, 2015
Digital video, black and white and color, sound, 6 minutes
A cinematic invocation and meditation on transcendence as a means of restoration and resistance. —Ja’Tovia M. Gary
Ephraim Asili, Kindah, 2016
16mm to digital video, black and white and color, sound, 11.5 minutes
West Coast Premiere
The fourth film in an ongoing series of 16 mm films exploring my relationship to the African Diaspora. This one was shot in Hudson NY and Accompong, Jamaica. Accompong, Jamaica was founded in 1739 after rebel slaves and their descendants fought a protracted war with the British leading to the establishment of a treaty between the two sides. The treaty signed under British governor Edward Trelawny granted Cudjoe’s Maroons 1500 acres of land between their strongholds of Trelawny Town and Accompong in the Cockpits and a certain amount of political autonomy and economic freedoms. Cudjoe, a leader of the Maroons, is said to have united the Maroons in their fight for autonomy under the Kindah Tree—a large, ancient mango tree that is still standing. —Ephraim Asili
Lewis Klahr is a Los Angeles-based experimental filmmaker and artist known for his collage films and videos, which use found images, music, and sound to explore identity, sexuality, memory, and history. Since creating his first film in 1977, Klahr has been prolific, making digital and analogue stop-motion collages and two feature-length films. He has also exhibited his installations, collages, films, and videos in numerous galleries and museums, regularly screens his work internationally, has won numerous awards, and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
A native of New Orleans, Barbara McCullough spent most of her life in the Los Angeles area. Before documentaries, experimental film and video were her first love as she strove to “tap the spirit and richness of her community by exposing its magic, touching its textures and trampling old stereotypes while revealing the untold stories reflective of African American life.” Her film and video projects include: Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification, Shopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflection on Ritual Space, Fragments, and The World Saxophone Quartet. Her recently completed film project, HORACE TAPSCOTT: MUSICAL GRIOT is a documentary on musical genius, community activist, and mentor to a generation of accomplished jazz musicians, Horace Tapscott. Her works are screened in museums and galleries nationally and internationally.
Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA is supported through both organizations by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Additional support of Filmforum's screening series comes from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.
Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA furthers MOCA’s mission to question and adapt to the changing definitions of art and to care for the urgency of contemporary expression with bimonthly screenings of film and video organized and co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum—the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, video art, and experimental animation.
For more on Los Angeles Filmforum, visit lafilmforum.org, or email email@example.com.
For more information on The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, visit moca.org.
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