Nomadic Archive: Abraham Ravett presents the Works of Tom Joslin

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The Architecture of Mountains (Tom Joslin, 2010)Nomadic Archive: Abraham Ravett presents the Works of Tom Joslin
Saturday, June 2, 19:30h
322 Union Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Abraham Ravett in attendance for screening and discussion.

Abraham Ravett will screen and discuss two of Tom Joslin’s works: Blackstar: Autobiography of a Close Friend from 1976, and the posthumously assembled work The Architecture of Mountains (2010).

Ravett writes the following about the project: Before he left for LA in 1981 to pursue a career in Hollywood, documentry filmmaker Tom Joslin completed an innovated and to this day, historically significant film called Blackstar: Autobiography of a Close Friend (1976, 85 minutes, color, sound, 16mm). It was one of the first autobiographical, diary format films that addressed the issue of gay identity and coming out to one’s family. It’s a beautifully made film, formally inventive, and still resonates on many fronts.

When Tom passed away from AIDS, he left all his video tapes from another autobiographical project he had been shooting in LA to a former student named Peter Friedman who in turn, found the resources to construct the much acclaimed film, Silverlake Life: the View from Here.

Prior to leaving Hampshire College in 1980, Tom was working on another film inspired by Jose Argüelles book, The Transformative Vision: Reflections on the Nature and History of Human Expression. Shot in sync and MOS on 16mm, the footage reflects Tom’s interest in perception, human consciousness, and signaled his evolving interest in fusing non-fiction, experimental and dramatic genres. All the original materials for this unfinished film were stored at the LA home of Ken Levin another former Hampshire College student who along with several other students, worked with Tom on this project, which he called The Architecture of Mountains (62 minutes).

Ravett asked Ken Levin if we could use the footage as part of a class project. For the last two years, a small group of students and Ravett have shaped the material into a 62 minute film that is based on Tom’s production notes, conversations with Tom’s former students about the Architecture of Mountains project, and the Argüelles text. The primary editor is Ben Balcom. The version which would be screened tonight “is an attempt to construct what Tom may have wanted to do with this material as well as our own engagement and fascination with this footage.”

In assembling the unfinished film, Ravett and his colleagues inhabited what Tom Waugh claimed is an important role for archivists: to “animate a repository of dreams…to speculate and imagine a new life for this kind of material—a reanimation of this material—an imagining of what it is.”

Following the sceerning, Ravett will discuss the consequences of creating such a “nomadic archive,” as he calls this project.


Abraham Ravett was born in Poland in 1947, raised in Israel and emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1955. He holds a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in Filmmaking and Photography and has been an independent filmmaker for the past thirty years. Ravett received grants for his work from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Artists Foundation Inc, Boston, MA., The Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, The Japan Foundation, The Hoso Bunka Foundation, the LEF Fondation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. His films have been screened internationally including the Museam of Modern Art, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley, CA., S.F. Cinematheque, L.A. Forum, Image Forum, Tokyo, Japan, and Scratch Projection, Paris.

Ravett teaches filmmaking and photography at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA.


Bradford Nordeen holds an MA in Cinema Cultures from King’s College London and a BFA in Photography and Media from CalArts. Nordeen has organized screenings internationally, and, as the curator for Dirty Looks, a monthly platform for queer experimental film and video, has screened at venues like the Hammer Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Judson Memorial Church. His writing has been published in Art in America, The Fanzine, The Huffington Post, Lambda Literary, X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, Slant, Little Joe and Butt Magazine, amongst others. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Presented With
Dirty Looks, a monthly platform for queer experimental film and video. Dirty Looks is a roaming screening series, a salon of influences, an open platform for inquiry, discussion and debate. Occurring the last Wednesday of every month, Dirty Looks is programmed by Bradford Nordeen