Media Arts Preview: History Lessons of the Avant-Garde & Activist Media

3 Dreams of Black

L.A. considers its rich history of avant-garde and activist media with numerous events dedicated to reconsiderations of the past.

Thursday, November 10
The California African American Museum will screen The Nine Lives of Marion Barry, a feature-length portrait of the controversial activist and former mayor of Washington D.C. tonight at 7:00 p.m. Written and directed by Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer, the film includes extensive archival footage spanning 40 years, as well as lengthy interviews with Barry and his ex-wife, to offer a portrait of Barry that expands well beyond the notorious event that brought his downfall in 1990.

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Luther PriceThe Echo Park Film Center will screen four Super 8 films by experimental filmmaker Luther Price tonight at 8:00 p.m. Writing about Price's work, Gary Morris notes, "Images of ruptured flesh and ghostly birthday parties are further ruptured and drained of life by Price's torturous manipulations of the film, which can include chemical processing, filters, optical printing, re-photography, and even holes punched in the frame."

Friday, November 11
Filmforum and LACMA present Asco: Chicano Cinema and Agnes Varda's Mur Murs. The show is the sixth screening in the Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, series curated by Filmforum. Rita Gonzalez, a curator at LACMA, and filmmaker Jesse Lerner will present work by the celebrated collective that was prominent in the 1970s. The program also includes a documentary by French filmmaker Agnes Varda about murals and muralists in Los Angeles. The show screens at LACMA's Bing Theater at 7:30 p.m.

The Michael Kohn Gallery presents work by Bruce and Jean Conner in a show titled Circa Sixty: Bruce and Jean Conner 1958-1964, featuring drawings, assemblages, collages and the film Looking for Mushrooms. The film captures the filmmaker's hunts for mushrooms in San Francisco and Mexico in the early 1960s, when Conner lived in the Mexican countryside and invited Timothy Leary to visit at one point. The film screens continuously as a loop.

Matt Saunders ChinaSaturday, November 12
Blum & Poe presents the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles by Matt Saunders, an artist who currently teaches at Harvard and whose work mixes film, animation, photography and painting to craft a hybrid form of imagery that is often exquisite. The show is titled China in Nixon and includes large-scale photographic prints produced from hand-painted negatives and a new animated video made from thousands of individual ink drawings on Mylar. The show opens tonight with a reception 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. and will be up through December 22.

SymposiumUCLA's ongoing series, LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema presents a one-day symposium to consider the groundbreaking work of filmmakers such as Charles Burnett, Ben Caldwell, Larry Clark, Julie Dash, Zeinabu irene Davis, Jamaa Fanaka, Jacqueline Frazier, Haile Gerima, Alile Sharon Larkin, Barbara McCullough and Billy Woodberry. The symposium is free, and will include many clips of rarely screened footage.

Sunday, November 13
Filmforum continues to showcase historic work tonight with a collaboration with Otis College of Art and Design to present Doin' It on Tape: Video from the Woman's Building, the seventh screening in the series Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980. The event will showcase video excerpts from the Los Angeles Women's Video Center, which was founded at the Women's Building in 1976, and was home to powerful media art made by artists and activists. The event will be hosted by Jerri Allyn and Alexandra Juhasz, who will be joined by Susan Mogul, Cheri Gaulke, Sue Maberry, Kathleen Forrest, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus. The event will take place at the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

The Hammer Museum presents videos by Venezuelian-born artist Patricia Esquivias, who "creates videos that weave found images, history, and personal anecdotes into narratives that convey her insights about contemporary culture." The videos will screen through February 12, 2012.

Gehr's 'Serene Velocity'Monday, November 14
Tonight at REDCAT, Ernie Gehr brings a collection of new digital works, including Abracadabra and Crystal Palace, to REDCAT tonight for a show that starts at 8:30 p.m. The event will continue tomorrow evening with a screening of the filmmaker's early works, including the outstanding visual experiment Serene Velocity, a 23-minute film from 1970 that is his most famous work. The Harvard Film Archive describes it as "a sublime meditation on camera movement and the inherently disorienting properties of institutional space."

The Digital Studies Symposium presents Andy Merkin of the Venice-based transmedia studio Mirada tonight at 7:00 p.m. in SCA 112. Mirada was founded a year ago by Guillermo del Toro and members of the design firm Motion Theory as a "storytelling engine" and "imaginarium" dedicated to new forms of transmedia storytelling. The company's first projects include 3 Dreams of Black, a music video by Chris Milk for which Mirada assisted with the conceptual design, animation and technology. Merkin, a graduate of MIT and HEC-Paris, will talk about that project, as well as Mirada's recent IBM Think exhibit (an interactive experience in New York's Lincoln Center), and DHM, a web-based extension of del Toro's horror series, The Strain Trilogy.

Tuesday, November 1
5
UCLA's Design | Media Arts program presents Numerical Narratives, a talk by Nicholas Feltron known for his affection for charts and graphs generally, and the Feltron Annual Reports, which collect and document data from his everyday life. Feltron will talk about his tools and methods for data collection. The talk is at 6:00 p.m. at the Broad Art Center.

About the Author

Holly Willis teaches in USC's School of Cinematic Arts and writes about new media art.
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