CHICK FOLLOWS MOVEMENT
Chick Strand (December 3, 1931 – July 11, 2009)
Chick's camera is furious. It never stops as she doesn't either, to pursue movement. That fleeting moment that will go away in a second. The camera gets close and even closer to her subjects as they also come and go. She knows life as she experiences it with passion and sometimes breaking the rules of love and relationships and thus cinema. A step further to be able to achieve the fire. Women telling their stories and men being told by women. Transient characters open up in tenderness. Wild horses pacing the cuts. The camera is close because Chick likes to learn the secrets that keep us moving. The sun, the flowers, the light, the bodies, the hands, the wrinkles by the corner of ageless eyes. Every aspect of Chick's work is intriguing.
AGNES ENCOUNTERS CINEMA IN PEOPLE
Agnes Varda (Mayo 30, 1928 – March 29, 2019)
Agnes Varda is often added to the list of auteurs from the French New Wave. However, she tries to remind us as much as she can that her start in cinema was much more intuitive than anything else.
EXPERIMENTAL FILMMAKER AMY HALPERN SHARES A VERY SPECIAL MEMORIE OF BRUCE BAILLIE.
Bruce Baillie (1931-2020)
UNCLE BRUCE, the Admiral, the Bishop,
The Framer and renamer.
I loved it when he called me “fella”.
Over and over he presented real-time demos of Gertrude-Stein-Zen – i.e.
“A continuous present is a continuous present.”
He is a great clarifier, a real-time inspiration for image makers, Bruce,
OH, FLOWER OF CREATION!
BRUCE AS BISHOP
An image shared by Amy Halpern
I called Amy Halpern to ask her for some words on Bruce Baillie’s passing. I met her at a Light Field screening a couple of years ago. There I got to see how known Amy is in the San Francisco film community (originally a New Yorker, Amy moved to LA on July 4th, 1974) and she also got to tell me some beautiful stories about Chick Strand, one of my favorite filmmakers of all times. Someone Amy was really close to. So when Bruce died this past April, I thought Amy could also share some of her unique experiences with Bruce.
I found her phone number in my old cellphone’s list of contacts. And there she was, on the other side of the line, very happy for my call. She remembered me, which doesn’t surprise me from filmmakers. They have such an amazing visual memory (and imagination). The first thing that came to Amy’s mind when I asked her about Bruce was this picture she keeps on her studio’s wall. She sent me a screenshot of it. It looked like a picture of a Catholic saint. It’s ‘Bruce as Bishop’ she said and in less than ten minutes I had a scanned version of it in my email. I was in shock. I had never seen this image before. Amy doesn’t know who took it, ‘maybe it was his son who did’, she said. It didn’t occur to me to use this image for the Flaherty Newsletter I thought it was too personal, but it was Amy’s idea to share it with the community and I’m so happy I’m able to help with that. Each filmmaker holds a capsule full of valuable stories and some of these stories never leave artists studios. Bruce’s work would often bring some kind of spirituality to the screen and remind me of the text written by Nathaniel Dorsky or the close encounters with the camera and the people that Chick used to film. Was it a devotion to the art of filmmaking? to the places they inhabited? or to the people they lovingly captured on film? Where does that spirituality come from? I guess that’s something very personal we can all try to answer on our own, but what I’m sure is that stories like the one Amy has shared with me are real gifts and have helped me become even more interested in the work and life of my favorite filmmakers. I hope they do the same for others.
WATCH FILMS BY BRUCE
Available films online
You can find the film "All my life" on vimeo
THE WORK OF AMY HALPERN
Amy Halpern recently had a retrospective of her work in Spain programmed by Francisco Algarín Navarro. To know more about the event, check the Experimental Cinema website.
THANK YOU BARBARA
Barbara Hammer (May 15, 1939 – March 16, 2019)
Lesbian pioneer experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer lived two lives. One in the closet and the second completely out of it, like most of us (non gen yz generations). Barbara broke free in her thirties and we can only thank the goddess of queer cinema for that.
I remember taking queer cinema classes with Ken Feil as a grad student and watching Dyketactics for the first time in my life. It was a revelation. I did not know people were making these kinds of films back in the 70's. I was forever enchanted by Barbara's freedom and joy for being a Lesbian and sharing it to the world. I thought: "I want to be just as gay and happy like Barbara"
WATCH FILMS BY BARBARA
Available films online
You can find the film "Sanctus" (1990), "Vital Signs" (1991) and "Save Sex" (1993) on Company gallery's vimeo only for a limited time:
Some of Barbara's photo work, drawings and paintings can be found here:
You can find an interview to Barbara Hammer in Spanish for Punto de Vista
THE BODY BY SASHA WALTZ
Sasha Waltz (born March 8, 1963)
Dance has been a focus of my work as a performer but even more now as a filmmaker. This is because when learning about filmmaking I realized that dance in its origin had the same principle than cinema: movement. After Pina Bausch's passing back in 2009, Sasha Waltz & Guests is arguably the most relevant dance company in Germany. The body of work of this company is in its essence: the body. By watching some of their pieces I have been able to appreciate how powerful and visually impactful the body can be when put under the stresses of challenging choreography such as Sasha's. I was able to see Korper when they visited Chile back in 2009 and recently I visited Berlin and got to see Sacre, the company's version of the Rite of Spring. Although this last one was in no way superior to the Tanzatheater Wuppertal's version, I did enjoy again some of that rawness and certainly seeing tattooed bodies you are not used to seeing in traditional contemporary dance companies of this caliber.
Sasha Waltz and Guests will always be a must see and an inspiration of the work I make. Plus, every time I think being naked in front of the camera makes me feel too exposed, I think of Sasha and her dancers, and then I'm convinced again about taking my shirt off.
BJÖRK IS BYOND
Björk (born 21 November, 1965)
I remember back in 2012, back in 2009, back in 2001, back in 1995, back in 1993.. Björk's music has had drastic changes over time but that particular voice that is always calling the unknown world beyond, the dark matter of the universe has always been there in every single one of her albums, in each of her audiovisual collaborations with dramatically talented artists of all ages. Björk has always sounded as the future but that is just because her sound is timeless. No artist dances better with contemporary music than she does. And if Björk were to stop making music one day, which is something I hope doesn't happen any time soon, she would know who to give her voice to so they could continue opening the portals of the fractal.
WATCH BJÖRK'S MUSIC VIDEOS
Available videography online
You can find many of Björk's videos online but vimeo has a nice collection of her work here:
You can also read about the restoration of the film The Juniper Tree, (1990) here:
ARCA ES UNA MADRE
Alejandra Ghersi (born October 14, 1989)
Arca es una madre y Xen es una bot. I begun to listen to Arca in 2018 through Björk's work. After digging deeper into their collaboration I realized how profound was Arca's work as a stand alone complex. Arca did not need of a mother anymore, she was a mother to all of her mutants already. I have never met an artist that evolves this rapidly. Her strength comes from the non-binary source itself. That place where gender is bent and music gains many gonads impossible to define or limit to genres. It is one on its own yet constantly transforming. Ale es la definición de libertad de expresión. La Experimental Diva.
One of the biggest lessons I learn every day by following her on Twitch, Patreon and Discord is how unafraid she is from collaborating and learning from many artists as well as from her mutant fans. I have come to believe that she is currently using AI to breathe cyber air and break free to the universe just as Lain did in the Serial Experimental Lain anime (the anime that has had the most impact in my life).
It is not a surprise that she was part of a piece that uses Bronze, AI technology, to create "auto-poetic" compositions.
I finish by saying that today is a special day (May 20th, 2020). I'm trapped in a room feeling like a stranger, touched by 1000000 emotions after watching Time, hoping that I can make amends with my past to continue evolving at the same pace Arca has for the last 10 years.
(Image bellow by Annie Forrest)
LISTEN CAREFULLY TO ARCA
Available music online
Arca is currently releasing original work via Patreon:
You can also just search the web and immerse yourself in her career. Remember to be yourself when do it.