DANA BERMAN DUFF: SHORT FILMS AND VIDEOS
Program curated by Steve Anker
Dana Berman Duff has long been a vital force in Los Angeles’ media arts. Astonishing in her versatility, Duff moves fluidly between Super-8mm and 16mm film, video, multi-channel installation, photography, drawing and sculpture. Regardless of the medium, Duff’s work is infused with her subtle wit, tactile delight and deeply reflective conceptual structure. Tonight’s program includes selections from the Catalogue Series, in which fantasy tableaux and objects from the pages of a designer furniture knock-off catalogue are reworked into contemplations on the control and selling of desire. Duff’s art is in collections of The Museum of Modern Art and New Museum of Contemporary Art, and her films have shown in the Toronto, Rotterdam, Edinburgh and other international film festivals.
Los Angeles premieres
In-Person: Dana Duff and Steve Anker
“This black-and-white silent triumph makes explicit both [Duff’s] and our own dilemma of consumerism: the remove at which we position ourselves when favoring affordability over authenticity.”
— Harriet Warman, Sight and Sound
“All the more hallucinatory for their general languor and fragmented intensive gaze, these films manage to simultaneously disorient and act as beacons of embedded memory.”
— Deborah de Boer, Antimatter Film Festival
- A POTENTIALITY (2020, 16:25, 16mm and digital)
A POTENTIALITY is a short, structured film about looming totalitarianism that adds the elements of time and sound to a graphic artwork by Susan Silton and joins the front pages of the 1933 New York Times with a mythic opera composed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944. The newspaper has local reports mixed with the increasingly disturbing accounts of events abroad, which have an uncanny echo in our current news. A POTENTIALITY makes a close comparison of printing dots and film grain which break apart the elements of language that support meaning. (D.D.)
The Catalogue Series (selections)
The Catalogue Series is a suite of 16mm black-and-white films and videos; each takes one volume of an 11-volume retail furniture catalogue as its subject.
- Catalogue (2014, 7:03, 16mm on digital)
Catalogue is a silent 16mm black-and-white film that considers the time it takes to look at desirable objects, in this case, the objects for sale in a mainstream furniture catalogue. The catalogue presents de-saturated photographs of staged rooms shot and printed to resemble sets for film-noir era movies, hypothetically increasing their desirability. In these photographs the designer furniture knock-offs are indistinguishable from the original pieces. The film gazes at page after page of objects, each one exquisite and exquisitely photographed, minding the time it takes for the rise of desire and its dissolution. (D.D.)
- Catalogue Vol. 4 (2016, 4:30, digital)
Catalogue Vol. 4 takes the RH "Lighting" catalogue as its subject and uses a pulse of electronic sound and light to represent each fixture, shot in the order that they were found in the original catalogue. The intervals of black were derived by a matter of taste: items that the filmmaker found less appealing were excised from the sequence. (D.D.)
- Catalogue Vol. 6 (2016, 11:28, 16mm on digital)
Catalogue Vol.6 was shot with audio clips from a horror movie that mention the words "house" or particular rooms, or "upstairs" etc. playing in the studio so that each shot acquired a random diegetic "soundtrack". Then the film clips were organized as a "tour" through the rooms of a house: foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, study, bathroom, and ending with the bedroom. (D.D.)
- Catalogue Vol. 3 (2017, 2:43, digital and CGI)
Catalogue Vol.3 was made using the RH "Small Spaces" volume of the 2014 catalogue with an Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair as protagonist. This is a computer-generated rendering of the original chair, which was the inspiration for the knock-off version in the RH catalogue. The Series 7 is arguably the second most successful object in the world, after the ubiquitous white plastic molded chair. The Series 7 has been knocked off so many furniture manufacturers that I imagine, at the end of world, these chairs will be popping up to the surface all over the planet. (D.D.)
- Catalogue Vol. 10 (2017, 6:00, digital and 16mm)
A dystopia of moving text and moving image; Modernist chairs, Georges Perec’s Things: A Novel of the Sixties and underwater photography using 16mm, GoPro, and DSLR. (D.D.)
- The House Is Empty (2020, 9:50, iPhone, Super 8, and 16mm)
The House is Empty is an environmental disaster film that portrays, to the ovations of a billion cicadas, a cockroach, a woman, and a dramatic encounter in a closet—from the roach's point of view. Inspired by The Passion According to G.H. (1964) by Clarice Lispector. The house is “played” like an instrument by A.J. McClenon.
Total: 58 minutes
The Filmmaker: Dana Duff
Dana Berman Duff was named a Cultural Trailblazer by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs in 2020. In 2019, she mounted a large multi-channel video installation titled "What Does She See When She Shuts Her Eyes" (in collaboration with the late Sabina Ott) at Aspect Ratio in Chicago and at Alchemy Moving Image Festival in Scotland. Her film A POTENTIALITY was awarded an Alice Guy Special Mention at the 2020 FIDMarseille Film Festival. Her works in small format film and video have been screened in the Toronto, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Moscow, and forty other film festivals. Her art works are included the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and New Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as a number of private collections. Duff taught art and film at NYU, Bennington, Cranbrook, UCLA, Art Center Pasadena, and for many years at Otis College in Los Angeles where she was the founding director of Sculpture/New Genres.
The Curator: Steve Anker
Steve Anker, Dean of CalArts' School of Film/Video from Fall 2002 through Spring 2014, began screenings as Program Director for the Boston Film/Video Foundation (1977-1980), was Artistic Director of the San Francisco Cinematheque (1982-2002), and began and co-curated, with Bérénice Reynaud, Film At REDCAT (Los Angeles) from 2003 until his retirement in 2020. Anker curated film programs for the Museum of Modern Art, Pacific Film Archive, UCLA Film and Television Archive, London International Film Festival, the Austrian Cultural Ministry, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sharjah Art Biennial and Ann Arbor Film Festival. Anker has taught at Massachusetts College of Art, San Francisco Art Institute, Bard College, and San Francisco State University as well as at CalArts.
The Jack H. Skirball Series is organized by Bérénice Reynaud and Eduardo Thomas and funded in part by the Ostrovsky Family Fund.
REDCAT | THE ROY AND EDNA DISNEY/CALARTS THEATER
REDCAT is CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, a multidisciplinary hub for innovative visual, performing and media arts in the Performing Arts Center for Los Angeles County in downtown Los Angeles. Through performances, exhibitions, screenings, and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students, and artists to the most influential developments in culture from around the world and gives artists in the region the creative support they need to achieve national and international recognition. REDCAT extends the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts by encouraging experimentation, discovery, and lively civic discourse. To learn more or subscribe to our weekly newsletter, please visit redcat.org.
The Team of Film at REDCAT
Bérénice Reynaud, Eduardo Thomas, Jeffrey Higgins
Film at REDCAT | Roy and Edna Disney CalArts, Theater, 631 W. 2ND Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012