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March 30/31, April 5/6, April 12/13
All screenings are FREE and begin at 7pm at the Hollywood Theatre
For the last fifty years, Thom Andersen and Morgan Fisher have been friends and filmmakers. They met in 1964 in the film department at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. They were students. They had the pollen of adolescence on their noses, but it was clear, even then, that they had thought things through for themselves. They were critical and mirthful, that rare combination, and they worked without a net. They made films that spoke with equal assurances about Hollywood and avant-garde histories, but acquiesced to the terms of neither. They met often and worked on each other’s films in all the practical ways that one can. They photographed. They edited. But much more than that, they contributed to the events by which the other was saved from the mush of concession, the involuted, the neurasthenic, and the compliant. This should come as no surprise. Filmmakers are not trained to work as atoms. The enterprise is rarely an individual one.
What’s at stake in this survey of films from 1964 to 2013 is more than a display of reciprocal advocacy. It is not a victory lap for two old friends. No, Andersen and Fisher are not the type to sit back and collect memory toys to play with. It is a chance, at bottom, to see the ways in which their work is different (all significant and observable) and the ways in which it chimes, and directs our attention to film itself, its plumbing, contrivances, history, and possible political consequences. The survey will take place at The Hollywood Theatre, as any other venue seems like an absurd constraint for two artist who make films that protagonize filmmaking and the pageantry of that industry. To tell you the truth, I’m good and tired of making a big noise about a simple thing. We’re working with a thought, a picture without its frame, might look naked.
In an interview with critic Scott MacDonald published in 1987, Fisher says, “Machines are what make movies. And as Thom Andersen points out…, film—the institution of film, the cinema—is itself a machine, a process of production whose product is none other than its audience, us. If, as I do, you want to take film itself as your subject, I think it’s natural to approach it through equipment, because any single piece of machinery can be made to stand for the entire system of machines and what that system is capable of doing.” The line of thought is simple. If we want to riff on the consequences of movies, we first must know how to describe the movies, we first must know how they work. “Only when you describe something can you start speculating about it. If something hasn’t been described and a record of it doesn’t exist—it doesn’t matter what form the description takes: a film, a sociological study, a book, or even just a verbal account—then you can’t refer to it. You have to describe the thing or situation before you can deal with it.”
On March 30 and 31, Andersen and Fisher will be in Portland to discuss their working relationship. On March 30, Fisher will introduce a new state of Screening Room, (1968/2013), a film that can only be shown in the auditorium for which it was made. The film is produced and presented by CINEMA PROJECT.
Thom Andersen (born 1943, Chicago) is a filmmaker, film critic, and teacher. He currently teaches film theory and history at the California Institute of the Arts. He made his first film in 1964 and his latest in 2012. His films were most recently shown in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Morgan Fisher (born in 1942, Washington, DC) teaches film at the European Graduate School. He made his first film in 1968, and his most recent in 2003. Fisher has had solo exhibitions at Portikus, Frankfurt; Raven Row, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
This retrospective is co-curated by Robert Snowden and Lucas Quigley. Quigley teaches at the California Institute of the Arts and edits the infrequent film journal, The Colonial. Thanks to Doug Whyte, Justen Harn, Mia Ferm, and CW Winter.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30
(all films 16mm)
SUNDAY, MARCH 31
FRIDAY, APRIL 5
SATURDAY, APRIL 6
FRIDAY, APRIL 12
(all films 16mm)
SATURDAY, APRIL 13
MONDAY, APRIL 15