Media Arts Preview: Maya Deren, Gregg Araki, and Christian Marclay

Meshes of the Afternoon

Some of the best moments in cinematic history were created in the distant past, a notion underscored this week in L.A.'s media art scene with a return to the 1940s and the work of avant-garde icon Maya Deren, the extraordinary work of Claude Lanzmann in his landmark documentary Shoah, and in Christian Marclay's remarkable 24-hour film The Clock, created entirely from images from the past.

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Thursday, March 22
The Unstable ObjectDaniel Eisenberg's film The Unstable Object screens tonight at 8:30 p.m. at REDCAT. Described as "an elegant and visually sensual essay on contemporary models of production," the film studies the making of hand-built cars, wall clocks assembled by blind people, and Turkish cymbals crafted by hand. The film explores the relationships among production, the global economy and people with an exquisite attention to detail. (Read my review here)

Friday, March 23
Avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren lived and worked in Los Angeles in the 1940s and '50s, creating some of the most celebrated films in cinema history. Her work is currently on view in LACMA's exhibition In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, and to complement that show, the museum has organized Dancer in the Dark: Maya Deren on Film, featuring two screening events. Tonight at 7:30, the screening presents Deren's short works, mixing her haunting and hallucinatory film Meshes of the Afternoon with the artist's extraordinary dance films. At 9:20, In the Mirror of Maya Deren, a documentary portrait, will screen.

Saturday, March 24
Christian Marclay's 24-hour collage film The Clock screens all day and night at LACMA, starting at noon. The film is composed of thousands of film and TV clips that together create a functioning clock, marking each hour as it goes by.

The Echo Park Film Center presents an expanded cinema performance tonight titled Connective Tissue that focuses on the recycled use of other people's materials. Filmmakers Adriana Vila and Luis Macias will be on hand to show the power of recycled images, and the reinvention of meaning as new relationships among images are formed. The performance starts at 8:00 p.m.

The Living EndSunday, March 25
Gregg Araki's 1992 film The Living End tackled the topic of AIDS at a moment when it was largely being ignored in mainstream filmmaking. Araki, a key figure in the history of L.A. independent film as well as the 1990s Queer Cinema movement, went on to make a long list of subsequent feature films, but The Living End, which has been remastered, remains a favorite for its sense of reckless energy. The UCLA Film & Television Archive presents the film tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Billy Wilder Theater.

Monday, March 26
ShoahThe Hammer Museum presents Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, an extraordinary film based on interviews with Holocaust survivors and perpetrators in 14 countries. The eight-hour film was not only a landmark in films about the Holocaust due to its combined intensity and intimacy, but in documentary filmmaking as well. The museum will screen the film in two parts, with the First Era (273 minutes) tonight starting at 7:00 p.m and the Second Era (230 minutes) screening tomorrow, also at 7:00 p.m.

About the Author

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