For the third installment of the Projections series, I’ve compiled a small collection of hard-to-see films which reflect the growing re-definition of our concept of country. Projections Part III: Post-America presents cinematic works that expose unique visions of the American underbelly. Since the dawn of the medium, film has played a central role in both the education and dis-information in our society. Considering the current socio-political landscape of the United States, a conversation around these subjects is not only timely, but also important to present in the gallery context.
66 Scenes from America (1982)
Director: Jørgen Leth
Running time: 39 minutes
Screening continuously April 29 - May 5, 2017 As a visual narrative, 66 Scenes From America is reminiscent of a pile of postcards from a journey, which indeed is what the film is. It consists of a series of lengthy shots of a tableau nature, each appearing to be a more or less random cross section of American reality, but which in total invoke a highly emblematic picture of the USA. The film presents a number of interlaced chains of motifs, varying from pictures of landscapes, highways and advertising hoardings, buildings seen from without, mostly with a fluttering Stars and Stripes somewhere in the shot, objects such as coins on a counter, refrigerator with a number of typical food products, a plate of food at a diner or a bottle of Wild Turkey, and finally, people who introduce themselves and their lives in rough-hewn form facing the camera: for example, the New York cabbie or the celebrities Kim Larsen and Andy Warhol.
Surf Punks (1981)
Director: Franz Bromet
Running time: 45 minutes
Screening continuously May 6 - 12, 2017 This Dutch TV documentary captures all the suburban teen angst amongst Southern California punk rock fans of the early '80s who'd wear Nazi swastikas on t-shirts, stage dive, get bloody in mosh pits, do drugs, and run away from home just to combat the boredom in their lives. In between the interviews there is some well-shot performance footage of groups like Unit3 with Venus (a band/family with a 9-year-old lead singer), a very early version of Suicidal Tendencies, 45 Grave, China White, The Germs, and, voice of reason, Phranc, the Jewish lesbian folksinger. Also, Casey Cola shares her experiences with Darby Crash and she and others talk about the impact his death had on the scene. In total, and possibly because the documentary was produced by Europeans, Surf Punks offers what seems like an aliens view of this particular form of American dissent.
Director: Celia Rowlson-Hall
Running time: 80 minutes
Screening continuously May 13 - 19, 2017 Celia Rowlson-Hall is a dancer/choreographer/director whose feature film Ma doesn't fit into a neat category. You could describe it as a meditation on the story of the Annunciation, told through dance and movement, although "meditation" isn't quite right either. In this modern-day vision of Mother Mary’s pilgrimage, a woman crosses the scorched landscape of the American Southwest. Reinvented and told entirely through movement, the film playfully deconstructs the role of this woman, who encounters a world full of bold characters that are alternately terrifying and sublime. Ma is a journey into the visceral and the surreal, interweaving ritual, performance, and the body as sculpture. The absence of dialogue stirs the senses, and leads us to imagine a new ending to this familiar journey. The virgin mother gives birth to our savior, but is also challenged to save herself.
Director: Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines
Screening continuously May 20 - 27, 2017 Jeff Kreines’s and Joel DeMott’s legendary and obscure 1982 documentary set in Muncie, Indiana, which was suppressed from PBS by outraged corporate sponsor Xerox. Seventeen follows protagonist Lynn as she traipses through her senior year of high school. For the most part. Presented here, high school is simply a fulcrum, a familiar catchall for the sass, rage, and fatuity that happens to occur in Muncie during the spring of 1980, regardless of age. Like its filmed subjects, Seventeen contains no pretense or modesty. None. It meanders. There’s little balance and even less clear-cut movement. For those very reasons, the film mines an uncomfortably pure reality at a level which is rarely, if ever, glimpsed with our own eyes. Imagine the stupefying Heavy Metal Parking Lot crossed with the intent of the Maysles Brothers’ Salesman, but filtered through a racist, contradictory, and oftentimes senseless working class America. Seventeen moves beyond the 80s novelties, hilariously quotable teens, and prior references into a solitary space which displaces us, repeatedly.
Aaron Rose is an artist, film director, curator and writer. From 1992-2002, he was the owner of Alleged Gallery in New York, which helped launch the careers of many of today's top contemporary artists. In 2003, he cocurated the museum exhibition and accompanying catalog, Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art & Street Culture that toured the world through 2009. Rose was also director of the feature documentary film Beautiful Losers, 2008. He has also directed numerous commercials, short films and movies for television. In 2011, he co-curated (with Roger Gastman and Jeffrey Deitch) the exhibition, Art In The Streets, which opened at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. Rose is also editor of ANP Quarterly, a quarterly arts magazine and his publishing imprint, Alleged Press releases monographs by contemporary artists.
Films will be screened Tuesday - Saturday, from 11am - 6pm. Screenings will be previewed with a short-form cinematic essay by Aaron Rose relating to the subject.