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Valse Triste

Alternative Visions

Tuesday, December 9, 2008
7:30 p.m. A Tribute to Bruce Conner (1933–2008)
Bruce Conner (U.S., 1958–2008)

PFA Collection Prints

Bruce Conner, the great, irascible, and ever-evolving San Francisco–based artist known for his films, assemblages, drawings, and interdisciplinary works, passed away on July 7, 2008. The prototype for much of today’s repurposed art, Conner’s gauzy assemblages of salvaged materials attracted much art-world attention in the late fifties. His landmark film A Movie, made from scraps of newsreels, soft-core porn, and B movies, also augured the future of another form, the music video. A Movie has been placed on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Conner moved to the Bay Area in 1957 and quickly became a significant member of the lively Beat community, forming his own makeshift group of funk artists, the Rat Bastard Protective Association. In the sixties, Conner could be found at the Avalon Ballroom designing light shows; when the seventies punk scene emerged, Conner was there as well, capturing the dark vitality of the music in photographs. Almost all of Conner’s seminal film works reside in the Pacific Film Archive Collection. The monumental Crossroads, one of Conner’s most ambitious films, was the object of a PFA preservation project assisted closely by the artist. Tonight’s tribute ranges from Conner’s autobiographical Valse Triste to his last film, Easter Morning. We will miss him.

—Steve Seid

Valse Triste (1979, 5 mins, Sepia, 16mm). A Movie (1958, 12 mins, B&W, 16mm). America Is Waiting (1982, Music by Brian Eno, David Bryne, 3.5 mins, B&W, 16mm). Easter Morning (2008, Music by Terry Riley, 10 mins, Color, DigiBeta, From the Conner Family Trust). Crossroads (1976, Music by Patrick Gleeson, Terry Riley, 36 mins, B&W, 35mm)

• (Total running time: 67 mins, PFA Collection unless otherwise indicated. We wish to thank Jean Conner, Michelle Silva, and Henry S. Rosenthal for making this tribute possible.)