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Whole Grain: Experiments in Film & Video — Subversion

Film still from Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943

Subversion explores films that mine surrealist and psychedelic imagery to undermine the traditional narrative film structure. Maya Deren’s 1943 masterpiece Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the most influential works of experimental film, through repetition, symbolism, and innovative camera work, Deren creates a dreamscape that obstructs accepted forms of narrative comprehension. Many of Deren’s strategies were taken up by Los Angeles filmmaker Kenneth Anger in his 1947 film Fireworks, a montage of homoerotic and violent images that reveal his own personal infatuations. A generation later, in 1967, fellow Californian Pat O’Neill created something equivalent to a cinematic acid trip: his 7362 incorporates strobic light effects and bright colors and shapes emanating from a central axis. Filmmaker Christopher Harris’s 2004 Reckless Eyeballing, named after the Jim Crow rule against black men looking at white women, alternates static close-ups of black actress Pam Grier and men ogling her, in order to expose the power of the gaze and materialize its implicit racism and sexism.

Films:

  • Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, US, 1943, 14 min., 16mm)
  • Fireworks (Kenneth Anger, US, 1947, 15 min., 16mm)
  • 7362 (Pat O’Neill, US, 1967, 10 min., 16mm)
  • Reckless Eyeballing (Christopher Harris, US, 2004, 13 min., 16mm)



Additional Programming:


About Whole Grain

The Tang Teaching Museum’s new series Whole Grain: Experiments in Film & Video explores classic and contemporary work in experimental film and video. This is the second of our three inaugural programs this spring, which are thematic and director-focused collections of canonical films that will serve as an introduction to experimental filmmaking practice. The theme for our first program was Handmade Films (March 30) and our upcoming program is Soft Fiction (April 8). These films subvert, challenge, and play with classical Hollywood narrative and stylistic conventions.

Whole Grain is programmed by Sean Fuller, Store and Publications Manager, Tang Teaching Museum; Nicky Tavares, Visual and Digital Media Mellon Fellow, Skidmore College; and Tom Yoshikami, Educator for College and Public Programs, Tang Museum. This event is free and open to the public.

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