Light Industry: Naomi Uman - The Ukranian Time Machine
Tuesday, February 18, 2010 at 7:30pm
220 36th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue), 5th floor
11232, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Light Industry presents an evening of new work by Naomi Uman, who over the past two decades has produced one of the most accomplished bodies of contemporary 16mm filmmaking. A hybrid of lyrical and documentary forms, hers is a cinema equally attuned to the unique textures of small-gauge celluloid and the subtleties of cultural difference.
Based for many years in California and Mexico, Uman recently relocated to Eastern Europe. In 1906, her great-grandparents emigrated from rural Ukraine to the United States; a century later, she made the same journey in reverse, ultimately settling into the tiny, remote village of Legedzine, where she has lived for the past four years. Initially arriving without knowledge of the local language, Uman eventually discovered that the rhythms of culture there, centered around age-old patterns of labor and leisure, continue in much the same way as in her ancestor’s time.
Uman’s ongoing process of observing and coming to understand life in Legedzine is chronicled in her Ukrainian Time Machine project, a cycle of 16mm films that continue to explore the hand-made, intimately subjective mode seen in her earlier works. With Kalendar, Uman recounts her own process of learning Ukrainian words through a visual primer of her early impressions; for Unnamed Film, she documents the villagers’ everyday activities and resilient resourcefulness. On This Day presents quick, joyful sketches of a wedding, while Clay studies a small factory where men make bricks from the same local clay their forebears have used for building since the 4th millennium BC. Throughout the cycle, Uman’s subject matter parallels her own artisanal practice, valorizing the tactile and hard-won pleasures of work.
Selections from The Ukrainian Time Machine:
- Kalendar, 2007, 16mm, 11 mins
- Unnamed Film, 2008, 16mm, 55 mins
- On This Day, 2008, 16mm, 4 mins
- Clay, 2008, 16mm, 15 mins
Followed by a conversation with the artist.
A former private chef to Gloria Vanderbilt, Malcolm Forbes, and Calvin Klein, Uman long ago traded in her egg-beater and oven mitts for a 16mm bolex. Her award-winning films have screened widely at major international festivals as well as The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museo de Art Moderno in Mexico City. Milking & Scratching: Handmade Films by Naomi Uman, a collection of five early works, was released on DVD in 2006 by Peripheral Produce.
Tickets - $7, available at door.