Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Up to New: Black, Blue - Gretchen Skogerson (in-person)

Up to New: Black, Blue
videos by Gretchen Skogerson 

Gretchen Skogerson is a video and installation artist best known for pristine, coolly minimalist work. The freedom of subject matter and portrayal of time in experimental film and video; the connections between everyday movement and modern dance; and the seductive power of highly aestheticized images all inform her practice. Her work documents the intersection of aloneness and togetherness within contemporary society. In her latest videos she uses re-creation and horror to produce resonant accounts of violence, highlighting power struggles surrounding race, class, gender and sexuality.


CARS & KILLERS (2013, 2:00) is a visceral piece–visually and aurally a moving target. Mysterious, speedy and gory videos are stitched together guided with a voiceover of directives from a spam email on avoiding attacks.

BLACK ICE (2104, 1:45) responds to Michael Brown's murder in Ferguson, MO by juxtaposing anti-gravitationally breaking ice against a police report.

swf, 29, seeks self (2004, 9:00) combines found footage, a tale of loss and random collaboration. 

Nightparking (2008, 12:00) records the imprint of industrial and suburban landscapes on their nocturnal inhabitants.

Having a Conversation You Can’t Hear (2012, 1:34) showcases a headphone-wearing hula hooper shimmies underneath the moonlight.

Frontier Step (2007, 8:40) reveals a glimpse of the workers atop the Superdome from July 2006. Their uncluttered domain provides a sharp contrast to the unseen, destroyed city of New Orleans below. 

Fifth Season (2015, 3:30) is an accounting of waterlogged turned lifeless buildings.

DRIVING LESSON (2012, 4:00) imagines a disgruntled driving instructor pointedly ignoring his student.

Everybody Has A Reason: Angela Simpson (2015, 8:00) is a loose re-staging of a 2012 web interview between Angela Simpson and a Phoenix, AZ television reporter triangulated against a meditation on personal wilderness. Simpson had just been convicted to life in prison for the brutal torture and murder of a wheelchair-bound man. Simpson's interview challenges more standard "murderer narratives" through her lack of remorse, her refusal to blame her crime on mental illness and her belief that women have the same right to commit violent acts as men.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

4/29 FOR APPEARANCES: Jonathan Schwartz (in-person)

Jonathan Schwartz is an American experimental filmmaker who has been making poetic non-fiction 16mm films for over a decade. In both his travel films and his more diaristic work he draws influence from certain traditional approaches to observational filmmaking as well as from mentors Saul Levine and Mark LaPore. Schwartz makes the camera a catalyst for a transformed dynamic between the figure behind the camera and those in front. Turning his camera on the people and places around him, Schwartz captures jewel-like fragments of gesture, light and color that meticulously stitches together with rich textural field recordings, creating films of great beauty and emotion.

Friday, April 17, 2015

4/22 Divinity Gratis: The Cinematic Alchemy of Betzy Bromberg (in-person)

Marasmus  (1981)(16mm, color/sound, 24 min.)
Divinity Gratis (1996) (16mm, color/sound, 59 min.)
Ciao Bella (1978)(16mm, color/sound, 13 min.)

Betzy Bromberg, Director of the Program in Film and Video at California Institute of the Arts, has been making experimental films since 1976. Her most recent film, Voluptuous Sleep (2011), premiered at the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles and had its festival premiere at the New York Film Festival: Views From The Avant-Garde.  Voluptuous Sleep was listed as one of the Best Films for 2011 in both the New York Times (Manohla Dargis) and Indiewire (Andrea Picard).  Scott MacDonald included it in his Highlights 2012 in Lumiere Magazine (www.elumiere.net) and has published an interview with Ms. Bromberg in his most recent book, Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary and Avant-Garde Cinema.  Previous to becoming the Director of the Program in Film and Video California Institute of the Arts, Ms. Bromberg worked in the Hollywood special effects industry for many years as a supervisor and camerawoman for the production of optical effects in major motion pictures.  

Ms. Bromberg had a full retrospective of her films at BAFICI in 2007 Her previous film, a Darkness Swallowed (2005) screened at the Sundance Film Festival as well as the Seoul Film Festival (South Korea), the Athens International Film Festival (Greece), the Bradford International Film Festival (England), the Seattle International Film Festival (Washington), The Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona (Spain) and most recently at Ponrepo (Prague, Czech Republic).  Ms. Bromberg’s films have shown extensively in museums, cultural venues and festivals within the United States and abroad. Most notably, her work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the San Francisco Cinemateque, the Harvard Film Archives (Cambridge), Anthology Film Archives (New York City), the National Film Theater (London), The Vootrum Centrum (Belgium) and the Centre Georges Pompidou (France).

Marasmus  (1981) in collaboration with Laura Ewig
(16mm, color/sound, 24 min.)

 A woman’s response to technology / the jet lag of birth.

“If there are certain iconic images that represent the obscure history of the American avant-garde cinema, one of them has to be from Marasmus (1981), the extraordinary experimental film by Betzy Bromberg and Laura Ewig.  The image is of a woman’s face pressed flat, white and distorted against glass, two hands splayed on each side.  She could be pushing against an invisible boundary, or easing through a clear membrane as if being born; either way, the image exemplifies L.A.-based Bromberg’s uncanny ability for uniting a philosophical perspective and an almost mythically emotional sensitivity. Like some of the best feminist experimental work of the 1980s and ‘90s, Bromberg’s films invariably reverberate in this space in between, refusing both the cheerless material analysis of one strand of experimental production and the politically disengaged poetic investigation advocated in other camps of the avant-garde.  Instead, her films play on multiple levels, merging politics and poetry, and reveling in the resultant tensions.  With Marasmus, Bromberg merges strange and abject images of confinement and escape with a coldly technological environment, and she pits the desire for continuity and coherence against the pure pleasure of drifting through images…Bromberg’s work has plenty to teach us about formal experimentation and the magic of juxtaposition.” - Holly Willis, L.A. Weekly

Divinity Gratis (1996)
(16mm, color/sound, 59 min.)

 “An hour long and seven years in the making, Divinity Gratis locates personal experience and subjective vision in a history of the human species, culminating the technological revolutions that dominate the last years of the millennium.  References to the atomic bomb and the moon landing, often incongruous or ironic, form a grid on which movement up from primeval elements through the appearance of animals and buildings to the modern city and the worlds of contemporary science and religion, culminating in a more lyrical section in which a young woman – Bromberg herself – is introduced into a condensed recapitulation of the whole film.  Unconstrainedly eclectic and ranging freely among biological close-ups, museum dioramas, Gothic cathedrals, workers in the Los Angeles sex industries, and the Trinity Site on the White Sands Missile Range, where the first atomic bomb was tested, the imagery is almost all made over into the filmmaker’s visual idiolect, where color, texture, and camera movement provide for a sensual improvisatory montage…”  -  David James (2005) from The Most Typical Avant-Garde -History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles

Ciao Bella (1978)
(16mm, color/sound, 13 min.)

A personal film about love and mortality.

“Ciao Bella is a summer-in-the-city travelogue that mixes verite of Lower East Side bikers, Times Square topless dancers, and Coney Island crowds to achieve a highly charged atmosphere of manic exhibitionism and sexual raunch.”  - J. Hoberman, Art Forum

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4/.15 Radical visions: 16mm Films of Barbara Rubin and Sara Driver

Please join us for this unique opportunity to see the these rare films by two exceptional yet seldom heralded women artists.

All films projected on celluloid!

 Christmas On Earth (1963) 29 minutes
2 Channel 16mm Projection with color slides.

An erotically charged classic of 1960s underground cinema. Originally titled "Cocks And Cunts", Christmas On Earth is a film of sexual tableaux vivants, gay and straight, where two separate reels of film are superimposed on each other, with additional light effects layered on these images, all accompanied by a contemporary rock radio soundtrack, as specified by Rubin. Christmas On Earth is considered to be one of the first legitimate works of multi-media art.

This double projection of overlapping images of nude men and women clowning around and making love is one of the first sexually explicit works produced by the American postwar avant-garde. Many consider it to be an essential document of queer and feminist cinema It is still largely unknown to art history. Christmas on Earth in fact deserves to be located within a larger esthetic discourse on contemporary art forms such as Happenings, expanded cinema and installation. Rubin "was one of the first people to get multimedia interest going around New York," Andy Warhol said. Rubin's filmmaking practices were a type of performance and sexual agitprop that foreshadowed the emergence of critical body art at the end of the 1960s. An investigation into the little-known history of Barbara Rubin and her singular work Christmas on Earth deepens our understanding of a period when artists pushed self-determined and guiltless sexuality into the public sphere to catalyze social revolution.

One weekend, she corralled five friends into the Ludlow Street crash pad rented by musicians John Cale and Tony Conrad and instigated a night of playful debauchery. "Barbara held us hostage for 24 hours, from early evening to the next day. It was very Cocteau-ish. We were locked in and hermeticized in this apartment, it was a very freewheeling situation," recalled Malanga, one of the performers in the film. A novice with a camera, Rubin filmed the quivering couplings and posturing bodies.

Barbara Rubin 
"Barbara was the moving force and coordinator between us all." – Lou Reed

Rubin (1945-1980) was a filmmaker and writer who started working for Jonas Mekas at the Filmmaker’s Cinematheque in 1963. This was the year she filmed Christmas On Earth in the Lower East Side apartment of Tony Conrad and John Cale at 56 Ludlow Street. Rubin's creativity and lively spirit brought her in contact with many of the key counter-cultural figures of the 1960s. She became an indispensable right hand to Mekas, helping to set up screenings around the country and in Europe. In a thwarted attempt to show Jack Smith's banned Flaming Creatures at the Third International Experimental Film Exposition in Knokke-Le-Zoute, Belgium, in December 1963, Mekas, Rubin and film critic P. Adams Sitney occupied the projection booth. Rubin sought out the greatest talents of her generation, befriending Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan. She traveled to London in June 1965 to help organize the landmark International Poetry Reading with Ginsberg at the Royal Albert Hall. In the art world, Rubin is perhaps best known for first bringing Warhol to hear the Velvet Underground at Cafe Bizarre in Greenwich Village in December 1965. A few months later Rubin helped organize "Up-Tight," the first Warhol and Velvet Underground evenings of abrasive music, strobe lights, lewd dancing and film projections (including Rubin's own Christmas on Earth), at the Film-Makers' Cinematheque in February 1966. The ensemble was later dubbed the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and Rubin and her camera joined them on a legendary road trip in March. Rubin was one of the few people Warhol would listen to with rapt attention, according to Malanga, his former assistant and collaborator.

Rubin's involvement with the Exploding Plastic Inevitable was short-lived, however. There is no record of her participation in the group after its April 1966 run at the Dom nightclub on St. Mark's Place. Her next few years were consumed with new projects infused with '60s utopianism. She was most obsessed with her far-fetched 1965 script Christmas on Earth Continued, which called for the participation of all her heroes, including Walt Disney, the Beatles and Jean Genet, in the construction of a Fairy City set in Ireland.

Rubin left New York City in the late 60's and helped Ginsberg's Committee on Poetry purchase land to establish a 90-acre farm in Cherry Valley in upstate New York. A spiritual seeker already turned on to Kabbalah, Rubin discovered the nearby Hasidic community in Sharon Springs. Her visits introduced her to the baal tsuvah movement, a new brand of countercultural orthodoxy. She later stated her plan to burn Christmas on Earth, signing the missive with her new Yiddish name, Bashe Bruche. She married and moved to France with her partner and had 5 children, dying in childbirth in 1980 at the age of 35. -- Excerpted From Art in America, 12/1/05 by Daniel Belasco

YOU ARE NOT I (1981) 48 minutes, 16mm b&w with sound
Directed by SARA DRIVER
Cinematography by Jim Jarmusch

A haunting adaptation of a 1948 short story by Paul Bowles about a woman who escapes from an asylum, You Are Not I played widely in the international film festival circuit in the early Eighties. Then, a leak in a New Jersey warehouse destroyed the negative, leaving director Sara Driver with only a battered, unprojectable copy. Miraculously, a print was found among the holdings of Paul Bowles in 2009, and now the film has been restored and is available once again. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive works to emerge from the post-punk downtown scene, the film was beautifully shot by Jim Jarmusch (who also co-wrote the screenplay) and features Suzanne Fletcher, Nan Goldin and Luc Sante. - from Film Society at Lincoln Center

Sara Driver (born December 15, 1955) is an American independent filmmaker from Westfield, New Jersey. A participant in the independent film scene that flourished in lower Manhattan from the late 1970s through the 1990s, she gained initial recognition as producer of two early films by Jim Jarmusch,Permanent Vacation (1980) and Stranger Than Paradise (1984). Driver has directed two feature films,Sleepwalk (1986) and When Pigs Fly (1993), as well as a notable short film, You Are Not I (1981). She served on the juries of various film festivals throughout the 2000s.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

4/8 Fringes & Fragments: The Short Films of Ben Rivers (in-person)

Please join us Wednesday evening for a special screening and conversation with award winning UK filmmaker Ben Rivers. Rivers will be presenting 4 shorts films including the Boston premiere of "Things" which was just awarded top prizes at Ann Arbor Film Festival and Rotterdam.

Location: Mass Art Screening room 1. 621 Huntington Ave. Boston MA
MBTA Directions: Take the green line (E train) to Longwood stop.
Entrance to MASSART after is through South Building entrance on Huntington Ave.

Ben Rivers (Somerset, 1972) studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, initially in sculpture before moving into photography and moving-image. His filmmaking treads a line between documentary and fiction, often filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society. Rivers creates oblique narratives imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds, taking from J. G. Ballard the belief that optimism can be born out of crisis, and that utopia can exist as a personal state of mind or as collective thought.

He is the recipient of awards including FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, 68th Venice Film Festival for his first feature film Two Years at Sea; the inaugural Robert Gardner Film Award, 2012; Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel 42, 2011; and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, 2010, and two-times winner of Tiger Award for Short Film, Rotterdam International Film Festival. In 1996 he co- founded Brighton Cinematheque, which he then co-programmed through to its demise in 2006. He continues to programme on a peripatetic basis. He is represented by Kate MacGarry Gallery.

THINGS (2014, 21 mins, 16mm, b/w+col)
Things is a travelogue in which the filmmaker leads himself and the viewer through a tour of the four seasons, without ever once setting foot across his doorstep - focusing on unexplored things inside his own four walls. A year-long journey through domestic surroundings that at the same time is a trip into imagination and collective memory - revealed in the collected fragments of images, film, objects and sounds, a bed, books and, observed through a window pane, a squirrel in the garden.

As the seasons change, parallels and associations are made with things previously seen; an intricate web of clues to a life, there for the viewer to unpick. 

Ann Arbor Film Festival - winner Stan Brakhage Film at Wit's End award 2015
International Film Festival Rotterdam – winner Tiger Award for Short Film 2015

This Is My Land (2006, 14 min, 16mm, b/w)
A hand-processed portrait of Jake Williams – who lives alone within miles of forest in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Jake always has many jobs on at any one time, finds a use for everything, is an expert mandolin player, and has compost heaps going back many years. He has a different sense of time to most people in the 21st Century, which is explicitly expressed in his idea for creating hedges by putting up bird feeders. It struck me straight away that there were parallels between our ways of working - I have tried to be as self-reliant as possible and be apart from the idea of industry - Jake's life and garden are much the same - he can sustain himself from what he grows and so needs little from others. To Jake this isn’t about nostalgia for some treasured pre-electric past, but more, a very real future. 

A World Rattled Of Habit (10min, 16mm, col/b+w, 2008)
A day trip to Suffolk, to see my friend Ben and his dad Oleg…

“So, that’s why my outlook and things very different than normal people, because I was not in a normal propaganda one area only, I was exposed all of a sudden to all opposites, you see and then you get clear mind.” Oleg Meschko

Sack Barrow (16mm, 2011, color)
Sack Barrow explores a small family run factory in the outskirts of London. It was set up in 1931 to provide work for limbless and disabled ex-servicemen until the factory finally went into liquidation this year. The film observes the environment and daily routines of the final month of the six workers. Years of miniature chemical and mineral processes transform the space into another world. Towards the end an extract of The Green Child by Herbert Read describes the descent into a watery cave world. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

4/1 Devon Damonte’s A Field Guide to the Endangered Experimental Motion Graphics (in-person)

Since 1989 Devon Damonte has made, taught, and shown handcrafted direct animation all over, including: REDCat Theater at Disney Hall in LA; New York Film Festival Views from the Avant Garde; Ottawa International Animation Festival; Pacific Film Archive at Berkeley Art Museum; Quickdraw Animation Society in Calgary; and McMurdo Station, Antarctica. He is featured in “The Animation Bible” by Maureen Furniss, and the forthcoming “Experimental Filmmaking: Break The Machine,” by Kathryn Ramey. Damonte is currently adjunct faculty at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA teaching a summer visual music 16mm & 35mm direct animation intensive, he’s also a ringleader of the Crackpot Crafters collective, and he believes we are now all smack dab in the Golden Age of Adhesive Tape.


Auroroborous Washialis, 16mm sound
Dreamy mashup of my fixations with snakeskin and glitter washi tape

Catcycle – 3 min, 16mm silent
The righting reflex is explored via Marey’s sequences and exploded beyond the frames of reference materials.

Stalking the Wild Washi – 10-13 min, multi-projector: Begins with Carousel slide-show  w/narration & eye yoga exercises, then 16mm w/sound
A whirlwind AV cinesafari slide-film tour through the wild kingdoms of animal-printed graphic tapes, and beyond.

Buster Balls – 2 min, 16mm w/sound
Follicles from my now-dearly-departed kitty, plus a few blues from Peter Miller, made at Jo Dery’s 24-Hour-Moviemaking-Experiment, Dirt Palace, Olneyville, RI, June 2002.

The Artifacts of Life – 7 min, 16mm w/sound
A group film made entirely of parts left behind by formerly living plants and critters, created by the Crackpot Crafters – Caryn, Devon, Dory, Jason, Jim, Kelsey, Kevin, Linda, and Meesh in 2011.

To Lust for Lacecraft – 3 min, 16mm, silent
Because decorative polyethelene lace doilies are an endangered species too! Presented in loving memory of Kodak’s extinct #7363 hi-con film stock, may the world’s remaining supply roll-in-peace.

Aurouroborous: Lance & Helsing – 7-10 min, multiprojector: 16mm slotload w/ slide overlays, silent w/ acoustic ambient noises
Like the ancient ouroborous snake-eating-its-tail, like a continuous movie film loop, like supercharged electrical harmonies hovering above our atmosphere, like the light amongst us - bouncing, reflecting, bending, refracting, transmitting, absorbing.

Time Current Characteristics – 6 min, 16mm w/sound
Off the grids, out of the box, up on the wrack line is where the beachglass meets the light.

Starrlight Starrbright Starrshine – A Cecile Starr Tribute-in-progress (all are invited to make cinemaStarrs to add in) -2 min.

and more!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

3/25 Mock Up on Mu (Craig Baldwin in-Person)

MOCK UP ON MU (2008) 110 minutes
Directed by Craig Baldwin

A radical hybrid of sci-fi, spy, Western, and even horror genres, Craig Baldwin’s Mock Up On Mu cobbles together a feature-length "collage-narrative" based on (mostly) true stories of California's post-War sub-cultures of rocket pioneers, alternative religions, and Beat lifestyles. Pulp-serial snippets, industrial-film imagery, and B- (and Z-) fiction clips are intercut with newly shot live-action material, powering a playful, allegorical trajectory through the now-mythic occult matrix of Jack Parsons (Crowleyite founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab), L.Ron Hubbard (sci-fi author turned cult-leader), and Marjorie Cameron (bohemian artist and "mother of the New Age movement"). Their intertwined tales spin out into a speculative farce on the militarization of space and the corporate take-over of spiritual fulfillment and leisure-time.


Craig Baldwin is a filmmaker and curator whose interests lie in archival retrieval  and recombinatory forms of cinema, performance, and installation. He is the recipient of several grants, including those from the Rockefeller Foundation, Alpert Award, Creative Capital, Phelan, AFI, FAF, and California Arts Council. Over the last two decades, his productions have been shown and awarded at numerous international festivals, museums, and institutes of contemporary art, often in conjunction with panels, juries, and workshops on collage and cultural activism. His own weekly screening project, Other Cinema, has continued to premiere experimental, essay, and documentary works for over a quarter century, recently expanding into DVD publishing.

Craig Baldwin attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, University of California at Davis, and San Francisco State University (Masters, 1986). In the Cinema Dept. there, he studied under Bruce Conner and became increasingly drawn to collage film form.  His interest in the re-contextualization of "found" imagery led him to the theories of the Situationist International and to various practices of mail art, zines, altered billboards, and other creative initiatives beyond the fringe of the traditional fine-arts curriculum. After three short films, his first to be commercially released was Tribulation 99, a satirical collage rant on conspiracy theory, xenophobia, apocalyptic thinking, and US covert interference in Latin America. 

His first feature-length production, Sonic Outlaws, was an experimental documentary on the emerging "electronic folk culture", exploring the legal, political, and artistic implications of the audio-collage work of culture-jamming collectives like Negativland, Tape-beatles, Emergency Broadcast Network, and the Barbie Liberation Organization. Mr. Baldwin then completed Spectres of the Spectrum, a 90-min. sci-fi spoof utilizing early educational kinescopes to criticize the corporate control of electronic-communications technologies. His latest ‘collage-narrative’ feature, Mock-Up On Mu, parodies the impending militarization of space by means of allegories drawn from urban myths of post-War California subcultures. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Film Society Schedule SPRING 2015

1/21 Shirin Mozzafari (in-person)
2/04 Soon-Mi Yoo (in-person)
2/11 Matías Piñeiro (in-person)
2/18 Maxim Pozdorovkin (in-person)
2/25 João Pedro Rodrigues (in-person)
3/04 Single Stream by Wojtasik, Lee, & Ernst Karel (in-person)
3/18 Robert Todd (in-person)
3/25 Craig Baldwin 
4/01 Devon Damonte 
Ben Rivers (in-person)
4/15 Mati Diop 
4/22 Betzy Bromberg (in-person)
4/29 Jonathan Schwartz (in-person)

5/06 Gretchen Skogerson (in-person)

Monday, March 16, 2015

3/18 Winterfilms: Robert Todd (in-person)


Rescheduled due to one of our blizzards. Now that we have officially broken the record for the most snow ever in Boston (108.6 inches), Local Filmmaker Robert Todd has re-assembled a special collection of his snow, ice and frost themed 16mm film for an exciting Mass Art Film Society screening. Come in from the cold and join us in the warm glow of his lyrical films while we dream of the coming spring.

Robert Todd is A lyrical filmmaker as well as a sound and visual artist, Robert Todd continually produces short works that resist categorization. In the past twenty years he has produced a large body of short-to-medium format films that have been exhibited internationally at a wide variety of venues and festivals including the Media City Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Le Rencontres Internationale, Balagan Film Series, Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, Cinematheque Ontario, the Harvard Film Archive, Pacific Film Archive, the Paris Biennial, Slamdance Film Festival, and others. His films have won numerous festival prizes, grants, and artist’s awards. He teaches film production at Emerson College in Boston.

Program subject to change:

Trembling Palace (7:00) 2013

Winter Present (6:00) 2014

Threshold (19:00) 2013

Shades of Gray (16:30) 2014

Thunder (11:00) 2004

LoveSong (6:00) 2014

Missing Boy (14:00) 2012