BILL BRANDIn 2019 it turns fifty years since Bill Brand started making movies. Since 1969, he has been creating films, in a practice that includes his work in film preservation and restoration, drawing, painting and installation, and as an author of unique works, as is the case of Masstransiscope (1980), an incredible mural that transformed the Brooklyn subway into an enormous zoetrope. All disciplines that have been overlapping and nourishing. This film selection, prepared by Brand himself and according to his own words, emphasizes his work in “analog film work with the optical printer and weaves themes around landscape, the body, painting and drawing”. A selection that opens with the recent Huevos a la mexicana (2018), in which his well known changing patterns made with the optical printer are transported to the field of digital video; it is followed by Susie’s Ghost (2011), a spectral walk through a New York neighborhood; Skinside Out (2002) is one of his collaborations with the artist Katy Martin; and closing with one of his most intense and complex works, Coalfields (1984), in which his interest for landscape, his attention to the body and its decadence, his profuse work with the optical printer and a deep, political and sympathetic vision of the material he handles, come together. A vast and rich work, that runs through multiple paths with passion and imagination, and that makes us think that, somehow, film (and image in all its forms) is Bill Brand’s second skin.PROGRAMHUEVOS A LA MEXICANA
Bill Brand, USA, 2018, video, 13 min.
This is my digital/analog contribution to “Xochimilco Treasure Hunting” in Mexico City on the final day of “HAZLO TU MISMO,” Do-it-Yourself Independent Analog Film Laboratory Encounter, Sept. 9, 2018. (Bill Brand)SUSIE’S GHOST
Bill Brand in collaboration with Ruthie Marantz, USA, 2011, 16mm, 7 min.
Susie’s Ghost is about the mystery of the marks we make and leave behind. The “Susie” in the title refers to a sibling but the “ghost” refers more generally to lingering feelings of loss. The cinematography and performance both express a tentative presence and diffuse sense of disappearance. Is she looking for something? Is she really there? We shot with aging 16mm film in my downtown Manhattan neighborhood, just before construction mania obliterated the last traces of the manufacturing district I’d moved into years earlier. (B.B.)SKINSIDE OUT
Bill Brand y Katy Martin, USA, 16mm, 2002, 10 min.
Skinside Out features paint on skin, carried out in an expressionist mode on both of the filmmakers’ bodies. The emphasis is on the pleasure of looking — at the edge of repulsion — and the implications of making public an essentially private gesture. The film posits painting as a gendered, bodily act, whose location shifts continually within a context that’s always changing. Images filmed in the studio are juxtaposed with footage of a construction barge along the Hudson. By examining both in relation to surface, the work paradoxically looks for what lies within, while questioning who and where we take ourselves to be. (B.B.)COALFIELDS
Bill Brand, USA, 1984, 16mm, 39 min.
West Virginia industrial landscapes are collaged on an optical printer through a series of jagged shapes that transform the photographed scenes into a semi-abstract kinetic field. The technique I developed in earlier films, extends my formally complex visual idiom by inlaying social, sexual, personal and political subject matter. Woven into the fabric of the film is the story of Fred Carter, a retired coal miner and black lung activist who was framed by the Federal Government in its effort to undercut the black lung movement and to stop his bid for president of the United Mine Workers Association. His story is told through fragments of documentary interviews and by a poet whose narrative forms a counter theme within the film. The film’s thematic content and formal visualizations sit in precarious balance.
Poetic text by Kimiko Hahn.
Sound composition by Earl Howard.