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Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area

September 17, 2010 - April 3, 2011


Located at the edge of the continent, the Bay Area has long been home to utopian projects, cross-disciplinary explorations, edgy experiments, and psychedelic extravaganzas, all of which are highlighted in this season’s closing programs. Beginning in the late 1950s, local filmmakers requisitioned the amateur format of 8mm for small-gauge studies, a history explored in Pieces of Eight: Fragments, Curiosities, and Hidden Realities. By the 1960s artists were creating large-scale performances and light shows with slides, film, and multiple projectors, samples of which Karl Cohen will present in an evening featuring a variety of local animations. In the 1970s, videomakers formed media collectives, which infiltrated local baseball teams, debunked the power of TV, and created other alternatives to corporate media; on March 6, members of several of these collectives will gather to recount their adventures. Throughout the decades, artists looked to the other arts, from dance to music to poetry, to create collaborative projects, featured in a program introduced by Konrad Steiner. Throughout the Radical Light series, preservation projects undertaken by PFA’s collection department have deepened our knowledge of local culture and ensured that high-quality prints and videotapes enlivened our series. It is only fitting that we conclude with a program highlighting some of their accomplishments, which ensure that avant-garde Bay Area films and videos will be available long after this series ends.

Kathy Geritz
Film Curator

Sunday, September 19, 2010
6:30 p.m. Landscape as Expression
Ernie Gehr and Lawrence Jordan in person. The Bay Area’s astonishing natural and urban landscapes are the subject of these works by Ernie Gehr, Dion Vigne, Chris Marker, Lawrence Jordan, Michael Glawogger, and more. (93 mins)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
7:30 p.m. 1946–53
Introduced by David Meltzer. Wilder Bentley II in person. Essential films by James Broughton, Sidney Peterson, Harry Smith, Sara Kathryn Arledge, Christopher Maclaine, and Frank Stauffacher help redefine and expand our history of postwar Bay Area culture. (81 mins)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
7:30 p.m. 1953–60
Best known for the Beat Movement, the mid-to-late fifties in the Bay Area was a fertile time for all cultural and artistic scenes, as these films by Hy Hirsh, Stan Brakhage, Christopher Maclaine, Bruce Conner, and more attest. (62 mins)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
7:30 p.m. 1961–71
Peter Hutton and other artists in person. Often brazenly anti-establishment and always joyfully self-expressive, the films from the Bay Area in the sixties channeled the zeitgeist and expanded the possibilities of film as art. With films by Bruce Baillie, Robert Nelson, Lenny Lipton, Peter Hutton, and more. (87 mins)

Saturday, October 16, 2010
6:00 p.m. Stories Untold
George Kuchar, Chip Lord, and Anne McGuire in person. It’s not just the tale, but how it’s told that’s investigated in this collection of satiric, sensual, and striking stories. Works by James Broughton, Curt McDowell, George Kuchar, Chip Lord, Anne McGuire, Max Almy, and Scott Stark. (95 mins)

Saturday, October 16, 2010
8:30 p.m. The Erotic Exotic
Introduced by Eric Schaefer. Alice Anne Parker in person. Post-Summer of Love, many experimental filmmakers turned to investigating the body as erotic object and to liberating sexuality—especially female sexuality—from taboo. Works by Alice Anne Parker Severson, Scott Bartlett, Karen Johnson, and more. (85 mins)

Sunday, October 17, 2010
6:30 p.m. Procession of the Image Processors
Artists in person. Live video synthesis performance with Skip Sweeney, Warner Jepson, and Robert Pacelli. Processors, video synthesizers, and television modulators fuel this program of image manipulators, syntho-sorcerers, and feedback fanatics. Works by Hy Hirsh, Skip Sweeney, Loren Sears, Stephen Beck, and more. (100 mins)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
7:30 p.m. 1969–79
The experimental turns personal in this collection of vibrant, comic, and transgressive works from the seventies, including pieces by George Kuchar, Barbara Hammer, Freude, Bruce Conner, and others. (97 mins)

Sunday, November 14, 2010
5:00 p.m. 1980–1989
Artists in person. Works by Peter Herwitz, Rock Ross, Gunvor Nelson, Mark Street, and more represent the fertile Bay Area filmmaking scene in the 1980s, when many artists carried seminal artistic traditions into new territory. (84 mins)

Sunday, November 21, 2010
5:15 p.m. 1990–1999
Artists in Person. Moving among filmmaking, teaching, and curating, filmmakers in the 1990s were interested in the particularities of the medium and explored techniques such as hand processing and collage. Includes films by Sandra Davis, Jay Rosenblatt, Greta Snider, Dominic Angerame, Scott Stark, Jenni Olson, and more. (c. 80 mins)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
7:30 p.m. Tribulation 99
Craig Baldwin (U.S., 1999). Craig Baldwin in Person. “This masterpiece is at once a sci-fi cheapster, a skewed history of U.S. intervention in Latin America, a satire of conspiratorial thinking, and an essential piece of current Americana.”—Village Voice. With Sherry Millner’s Disaster, a two-screen Super 8 work called the first situationist film made in the U.S. (78 mins)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
7:30 p.m. Tribulation 99

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
7:30 p.m. Luminous Projections: Light in Bay Area Film and Performance
Kerry Laitala, Michael Wallin, and Nathaniel Dorsky in Person. Film projection performance by Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder. The films and performance featured in this program deal with light, treating it as an especially compelling feature of the Bay Area environment, as an object of amazement in early electronic technology, or as the essential component of cinema. (74 mins)

Sunday, January 23, 2011
5:30 p.m. Post-Conceptual Performance: Video, 1977 to 1997
Jordan Biren, Tony Labat, and Anne McGuire in Person. By the mid 1970s, the concept of the artist’s body as medium had evolved from arid performance to effusive provocation, as seen in works by Tony Labat, Leslie Singer, Doug Hall, Cecilia Dougherty, Jordan Biren, Anne McGuire, and the HalfLifers. (80 mins)

Sunday, January 30, 2011
5:30 p.m. Punk, Attitudinal: Film and Video, 1977 to 1987
Dale Hoyt, Barney Haynes, and Mindaugis Bagdon in Person. While punk music was churning in the clubs, video artists were mangling the medium (so here punk performance collides with bratty artmaking). Works by Mindaugis Bagdon, The Residents, Richard Gaikowski, Dale Hoyt, Ivar Smedstad, and Joe Rees take us into the hardcore maelstrom. (85 mins)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
7:30 p.m. Found Footage Films
Jeanne C. Finley, Michael Wallin, Greta Snider, and Craig Baldwin in Person. This program features Bay Area filmmakers who have appropriated a diverse array of footage and twisted the original meanings to their own, often subversive, ends. Films by Bruce Conner, Jeanne C. Finley, Michael Wallin, Greta Snider, Julie Murray, and Craig Baldwin. (81 mins)

Sunday, February 6, 2011
5:30 p.m. Versions of Veracity: Video, the 1980s
Jeanne C. Finley, Dale Hoyt, and Doug Hall in Person. Though wildly varied in form, these videoworks each concern an encounter with veracity, implicitly asking, “How do you represent truth in a medium that favors illusion?” Includes videos by the guest artists, as well as by Tony Labat. (88 mins)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
7:30 p.m. Tongues Untied
Marlon Riggs (U.S., 1989). Introduced by Vivian Kleiman. Tongues Untied breaks the silence that envelops the lives of black gay men. The words of poets, personal testimony, rap tableaux, dramatic sequences, and archival footage are woven together with a seductive palette of video effects. With Binge (Lynn Hershman, U.S., 1987), a confessional on overeating and self-image. (85 mins)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
7:30 p.m. Abstraction in Film
Nathaniel Dorsky in Person. This program features films that fragment, distort, or otherwise transform reality. Ranging from the 1950s to the 1990s, it includes films by Patricia Marx, Dion Vigné, Jordan Belson, John Schofill, Barry Spinello, Vincent Grenier, Elise Hurwitz, and Nathaniel Dorsky. (85 mins)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
7:30 p.m. Pieces of Eight: Fragments, Curiosities, and Hidden Realities
Bob Branaman, Keith Evans, Janis Crystal Lipzin, Steve Polta, Jeff Warrin, and Jacalyn White in Person. The films in this program consciously work with the small-scale 8mm image, conveying an intimate connection to their subjects or discovering a new delicacy and formal delights in otherwise familiar objects. (77 mins)

Sunday, March 6, 2011
5:15 p.m. The Video Collectives: Lord of the Universe, Media Burn, and Game of the Week
Lynn Adler, Doug Hall, Chip Lord, Jim Mayer, John Rogers, Allen Rucker, and Megan Williams in Person. Spotlights the collectives of the 1970s that aimed to infiltrate, subvert, or parody the corporate media. Includes Ant Farm’s seminal Media Burn.

Sunday, March 20, 2011
5:00 p.m. Experimental Animation
Karl Cohen in Person. Featuring PFA Preservation Prints. Little-known animations by Bay Area artists, focusing on abstract films from the late 1940s and 1950s but extending into the 1980s. Includes a light show interlude by Karl Cohen. (85 mins)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
7:30 p.m. Different Tongues: Film in Dialogue with Music, Literature, and Dance
Introduced by Konrad Steiner. Nathaniel Dorsky, and Jim Flannery in Person. Featuring PFA Preservation Films and Videos. A program that highlights films that couple and combine with dance, music, and poetry.

Sunday, April 3, 2011
3:00 p.m. Preserving the Avant-Garde at PFA
Introduced by Jon Shibata. Featuring PFA Preservation Prints. A program highlighting PFA’s preservation of films by Bay Area artists. Includes films by James Broughton, Dion Vigné, Lenny Lipton, George Kuchar, and others. (84 mins)

Radical Light programs at BAM/PFA are curated by Steve Anker, Kathy Geritz, and Steve Seid. The series is cosponsored by San Francisco Cinematheque.

Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the William H. Donner Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, Owsley Brown III, and the continued support of the BAM/PFA trustees. Special thanks to Dominic Angerame at Canyon Cinema, and to Jonathan Marlow, Steve Polta, and Vanessa O’Neill at San Francisco Cinematheque for their valuable contribution to this series.

San Francisco Cinematheque’s Radical Light programs include a presentation of small-gauge films by Steve Anker on March 3, a special tribute to Christopher Maclaine by Brecht Andersch on March 31, works from the San Francisco Art Institute’s New Genres department selected by Dale Hoyt on April 14, and an array of ephemeral films chosen by Rick Prelinger on April 22. For more information, please go to sfcinema.org.

The Radical Light film series will travel to Los Angeles, New York City, Toronto, Chicago, Portland, Boston, and other cities. Visit the Project News Center for more information about the Radical Light book, film and video series, gallery exhibition, and tour.