Screening Sunday, 11/21/21 at 4 PM PST, Los Angeles Filmforum presents the third of three programs of "Underground movies," curated by Jenny Perlin and Leo Goldsmith. “Underground Movies” charts a unique aesthetic terrain through which to explore larger questions of humanity's material and psychological relation to the planet’s substructure—as a space to be reshaped and exploited, but also as one in which to imagine ourselves anew.
This one-time-only virtual screening and Q&A explores the hidden worlds of caves, sewers, subways, mines, bunkers, and crypts through performative bodily engagement, abstraction, archival montage, and computer graphics. More information and RSVPs (free for members and sliding-scale for the public) at lafilmforum.org
By Patty Chang
USA, 2000, HD, color and black and white, sound, 6 min.
A woman dressed in business attire struggles to remain standing on a wildly undulating lawn.
Patty Chang is a Los Angeles based artist and educator who uses performance, video, installation and narrative forms when considering identity, gender, transnationalism, colonial legacies, the environment, large-scale infrastructural projects and impacted subjectivities. Her museum exhibition and book The Wandering Lake investigates the landscapes impacted by large scale human-engineered water projects such as the Soviet mission to irrigate the waters from the Aral Sea, as well as the longest aqueduct in the world, the North to South Water Diversion Project in China. Her most recent multichannel video project Milk Debt combines the act of lactation with people’s unspoken fears. Her work has been exhibited nationwide and internationally at such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; New Museum, New York; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; BAK, Basis voor actuele Kunst, Utrecht; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, England; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Times Museum in Guangzhou, China; and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. She has received a United States Artist Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, a Creative Capital Fellowship, a Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship in the Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and an Anonymous Was a Woman Grant. She teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.
By Jessica Bardsley
USA, 2020, HD, color, sound, 17 min.
Los Angeles premiere!
Combining archival footage of earth processes with interviews describing mysterious experiences of physical and emotional pain, this film turns to the earth to explore how everything we bury deep inside eventually speaks through the geology of the body. (Light Cone)
Jessica Bardsley is an artist-scholar working across film, writing, and studio art. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Practice and Theory at Colgate University and a Visiting Fellow in the department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University. Her films have screened within the U.S. and internationally at festivals like CPH:DOX, Visions du Réel, EMAF, Flaherty NYC, RIDM, True/False, and many more. She is the recipient of various awards, including a Princess Grace Award, Grand Prize at 25FPS, the Eileen Maitland Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Short Film at Punto de Vista, and numerous Film Study Center fellowships. Her research and writing have been supported by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies. She received a Ph.D. in Film and Visual Studies from Harvard University and an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
By Christine Rebet
2018, animation, 5 min
The remains of the temple of Ningirsu lie in the ancient city of Girsu, in current-day southern Iraq. This archaeological site was excavated between 1877 and 1933, unearthing some of the most important monuments of Sumerian art and architecture, including statues of the Sumerian ruler King Gudea. Currently the temple site is the fieldwork venue for the British Museum’s “Iraq Scheme” led by archaeologist Dr. Sebastien Rey.
The temple commissioned by Gudea was dedicated to the god Ningirsu and his avatar the Thunderbird. It was believed that the gods sent a divine vision to Gudea, a dream that inspired the building of the temple. Rebet animates this sacred myth, which was found written into ancient terracotta cylinders, unlocking the narrative and spiritual potential within the clay.
The resulting film, a five-minute animation imagines a dialogue between King Gudea and Nanshe, goddess of prophecy, whom he summons to help interpret his dream. The animation comprises 2,500 hand-inked drawings, opening with thunder and rain clouds which blossom forth with flowering plants; the wet earth then churning with molten energy as the red sun rises over the landscape. Eventually we see hands mixing mud to make the bricks for building the sacred temple. In a brief live-action sequence at the end of the film we see the hand of archaeologist Rey in the act of discovery: exposing a brick bearing a relief image of Ningirsu’s avatar and emblem, the Thunderbird.
Christine Rebet (b. Lyon France, lives and works in New York), received her MFA from Columbia University and her BFA from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London. Rebet has exhibited and held performances in various international contexts including: Bureau, New York; LACE, Los Angeles; Human Resources, Los Angeles; Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, Netherlands; Grieder Contemporary, Zurich; AlbumArte, Rome; Sculpture Center, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore; the Cartier Foundation, Paris; Site Sante Fe, New Mexico; Le Magasin, Grenoble; Shanghai Art Museum; Parasol Unit, London; Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris and Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo. Her films have been screened at various festivals in international locations including: Centre Dramatique National, Nanterre, France; Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon; The Berlinale Short Film Competition; Hong Kong International Film Festival; Oberhausen Film Festival, Germany; Jakarta International Film Festival and London Film Festival. Rebet’s work appears in the public collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France and the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine, France.
Look Then Below
By Ben Rivers
UK, 2019, HD, color, sound, 22 min.
Los Angeles premiere!
Third in a suite of collaborations with science fiction author Mark von Schlegell that includes Slow Action (2011) and Urth (2016), Ben Rivers’ Look Then Below blends 16mm cinematography and computer-generated imagery to transform the areas in and around Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset, UK, into a new anthropocenic landscape, forever transformed and transforming. Vermillion skies, iridescent oceans, irradiated vegetation, and ruined ancient palaces lead the way to a subterranean space of glowing mystery. (Film at Lincoln Center)
Ben Rivers studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, initially in sculpture before moving into photography and super8 film. After his degree he taught himself 16mm filmmaking and hand-processing. His practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society, the raw film footage provides Rivers with a starting point for creating oblique narratives imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds.
Silueta de Arena
By Ana Mendieta
1978, Super-8mm film transferred to high-definition digital media, color, silent, 1:33 min.
Ana Mendieta Filmworks No. 65 (GP1930.2)
Another of Mendieta’s Siluetas, this time outlining the artist’s figure in sand on the beach.