SHARING SOME SHARITS: Classic Films by Paul Sharits
Sunday June 5, 2011, 7:30pm
Los Angeles Filmforum presents
SHARING SOME SHARITS: Classic Films by Paul Sharits
REVISED FILM LINEUP as of May 26th!
At the Echo Park Film Center
1200 N Alvarado St. (@ Sunset Blvd.) Los Angeles, CA. 90026 | (213) 484 8846
Note the change in location!
Paul Sharits was one of the most important figures of the American avant-garde in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Trained as a painter, he worked in a variety of arts, and left us with numerous superb films. He visited Filmforum a couple of times, and we had a tribute show to him in 1997, but Los Angeles is long overdue for another program of his work. Here's a chance to see a few of his classic "structuralist" films and more, in living 16mm!
Tickets: General $10, Students/seniors $6; free for Filmforum members
Wintercourse (1962, 12 min., 16mm, black and white, silent)
Discovered in summer of 1985, of a set of "haiku-imagistic films" I did before coming to my characteristic style, as in RAY GUN VIRUS; I thought I'd destroyed all these pre-pure films, in about 1969-1970, the time of my separation from my first marriage. The film concerns my marriage, which lasted seven years; it was shot during its first year, when I was a painting student at the University of Denver. It is full of apprehensions, in a montage style which counterposes "opposites": sexuality and religion; seasonal opposites; hopefulness undercut by fears of eventual separation (the image of a statue of two women, arm in arm, reading a book). I find it visually and kinetically interesting, after all these years.
Piece Mandala/End War (1966, 5 min., 16mm, color & b/w, sound)
Soundtrack by Bob Grimes. Blank color frequencies space out and optically feed into black and white images of one lovemaking act which is seen simultaneously from both sides of its space and both ends of its time. "Thanks for the strip ... it IS that/cut to the bone of some matter that does really concern me: how a man and a woman meet nakedly head-on among the colors ... lovely: I can hardly wait to see the entirety of that vision ...." -- Stan Brakhage "PIECE MANDALA/END WAR reminds me very much of the back light (GoKo) which illuminates the spirit of Buddha -- yet no image of Buddha appears; rather, a couple of naked bodies. I have never imagined that GoKo could really happen and illuminate as in this film." -- Takahiko Iimura, Film Art
N:O:T:H:I:N:G (1968, 35 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Based, in part, on the Tibetan Mandala of the Five Dhyani Buddhas / a journey toward the center of pure consciousness (Dharma-Dhatu Wisdom) / space and motion generated rather than illustrated / time-color energy create virtual shape / in negative time, growth is inverse decay. "The screen, illuminated by Paul Sharits' N:O:T:H:I:N:G, seems to assume a spherical shape, at times -- due, I think, to a pearl-like quality of light his flash-frames create ... a baroque pearl, one might say - wondrous! ... One of the most beautiful films I've seen." -- Stan Brakhage "You are pulled into the world of color, your color senses are expanded, enriched. You become aware of changes, of tones around your own daily reality. Your vision is changed. You begin to see light on objects around you. ... Your experience range is expanded. You have gained a new insight. You have become a richer human being." -- Jonas Mekas "In essence there are only three flicker films of importance, ARNULF RAINER, THE FLICKER, and N:O:T:H:I:N:G. ... In terms of the subject we have discussed here, it is Sharits' N:O:T:H:I:N:G that opens the field for the structural film with a flicker base." -- P. Adams Sitney
Apparent Motion (1975) 16mm, color, silent, 28 min
Production assistance: Creative Artists Public Service Program (CAPS). The images for this project were first obtained by enlarging, with an optical printer, frames of evenly distributed grain particles from a black and white strip of underexposed 8mm Tri-X film. The resulting 16mm black and white Plus-X copy was again blown up with an optical printer to make a negative on high contrast stock. In the final stage, using an optical printer, color gels were employed to code each of the up-to-six layers of superimposed images of grain fields; this was recorded on fine grain Ektachrome Commercial color stock. What began as dark grain particles in relatively clear (light toned) emulsion, in the 8mm specimen, at the last stage, have become colored images of grain particles in a dark field. What I am proposing in this project is that even at the infrastructural level -- and contrary to its intended purposes -- the bases of film's illusionistic movement can be discerned. One might hypothesize that film is, in this respect, thoroughly illusional, on all levels from its most obvious recorded-image plateaus to its most primary image-forming depths.
Brancusi's Sculpture Ensemble At Tirgu Jiu (1984, 21 min., 16mm, color, sound)
This film is a "chronicle" of a visit I made in 1977 to Romania to experience three of Brancusi's most famous sculptures: "The Endless Column"; "The Gate of the Kiss"; "The Table of Silence"; (and the lesser known "Arcade of Pedestals," the modular system of stools which lead from the "Gate" to the "Table"). These works are in the small, rural town of Tirgu Jiu, not far from the village of Hobitza (where Brancusi was born and spent his childhood). These works are shown in photographs and discussed as totally autonomous "abstract" sculptures simply placed conveniently around the town; but, in fact, they are also parts of a larger and very specific environmental (and symbolic) motif. Their placement suggests a metaphysical continuum; they span the boundaries of the town and while aligned in a (virtual) straight line, all three cannot be seen from any single point of view, so there is a temporal unfolding as one moves through the town to experience the relationship. "There should be other films like this about works of art." -- Lynda Benglis, Sculptor
American avant-garde "experimental" filmmaker, artist, and professor of media studies, Paul Sharits was born in Denver, Colorado on February 7, 1943. Tragically, he died on July 8, 1993 in his home in Buffalo, NY. He is survived by his son, Christopher, Christopher's wife Cheri, and three grandsons.
Paul is widely known for his structural films, the use of multiple projectors, infinite film loops, experimental soundtracks, and interventions at the level of the filmstrip in order to realize his elemental mode of cinematic presentation.
Paul went to The University of Denver's School of Art (DU) where he earned a BFA in Fine Arts. At the time he was known as a young painter, however, he had been making films since high school. While studying art at DU, he began a mentorship with Stan Brakhage that soon became a lifelong friendship. Stan's manipulation of film structure through experimental and "scratch" film's influence is evident in Paul's early work.
In 1964, he attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana for his MFA in visual design. After he received his MFA, he moved his family which consisted of his son, Christopher, and his wife, Frances, to Baltimore, Maryland where he taught at The Maryland Art Institute. Later, he taught at and became a pinnacle force behind the development of the Center for Media Studies at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He divorced his wife in 1968. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited by Dr. Gerry O'Grady at The University of Buffalo Center for Media Studies along with the most prominent emerging experimental filmmakers of the time which included James Blue, Hollis Frampton, Tony Bannon, Tony Conrad, and later, Peter Weibel.
Paul enjoyed relative acknowledgement during his lifetime, with shows at the Bykert Gallery, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Walker Art Center among other institutions, and has been posthumously exhibited at the Whitney Museum, MoMA, Pompidou, Louvre, and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York as well as the widely renowned Greene Naftali Gallery exhibition of both his works on paper and his four projector installation "Shutter Interface" which was nominated for "Solo Exhibition of the Year" at the 2009 First Annual Art Awards at the NYC Guggenheim Museum. The four projector "Shutter Interface" installation was acquired by and is now on exhibition in the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.. Trained initially as a painter, and a prolific theoretical writer, Sharits' art-making was in fact wide-ranging, evidenced by his early involvement with Fluxus artists in New York. His many works on paper-from diagrams to abstract film scores, fashion drawings, and hallucinogenic illustrations-have yet to be fully integrated into his better-known body of work. (Christopher Sharits, 2010)
Catalogue of The Filmic Art of Paul Sharits:
Mike Hoolboom's Paul Sharits web page:
This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.
Los Angeles Filmforum is the city's longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation. 2011 is our 36th year.
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Echo Park Film Center
1200 N Alvarado St. (@ Sunset Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA 90026
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