From April 5 to August 3, 2003 the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA) will present Reel Sculpture: Film into Art. Organized by Benjamin Weil, SFMOMA curator of media arts, this exhibition emphasizes the viewer’s physical relationship with the projected image and explores the possibilities for nonlinear and seamless narratives in film and video. The exhibition features installations by international filmmakers Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Atom Eyogan and Abbas Kiarostami.
Finnish director Eija-Liisa Ahtila describes her work The Present as a “human drama”. The installation consists of five monitors running loops of stories that expose moments of psychological instability in the lives of five female protagonists. Ahtila’s stories shift between the past and the present without having to rely on the typical cinematic “flashback” technique, creating a nonlinear narrative. An underlying theme of forgiveness is revealed after each short story with the words: “Give Yourself a Present; Forgive Yourself”. The Present was shown recently in 2002 at the Tate Modern and at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.
Atom Egoyan‘s Close, a collaborative work with visual artist Juliao Sarmento, premiered at the 2001 Biennale di Venezia. The viewer experiences the video in close physical proximity to the screen in a narrow corridor. The projected image amplifies feet, hands and freshly clipped crescent-shaped toenails as, one by one, they fall delicately onto a woman’s tongue. Atom Egoyan is an Egyptian-born Canadian filmmaker who began to explore the art and language of cinema while studying in Toronto. Egoyan’s films delve into issues of intimacy and displacement along with examining the impact of technology and media on society.
Sleepers, by renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami was also shown at the 2001 Biennale di Venezia. It portrays a life-sized sleeping couple projected on the floor. The projection relies on a soundtrack of street noises that causes certain occurrences to take place within the couple’s dreams. Abbas Kiarostami was the recipient of the San Francisco Film Society’s prestigious Akira Kurosawa Award in 2000. Sleepers is a part of the SFMOMA Media Arts permanent collection.
Reel Sculpture: Film into Art is made possible by the generous support of the James Family Foundation.
To complement the work in the exhibition, additional films by Ahtila, Egoyan and Kiarostami will be screened in the Phyllis Wattis Theater as part of The Seventh Art: New Dimensions in Cinema. More information on The Seventh Art is available on the Museum’s Web site at www.sfmoma.org/press.The Seventh Art: New Dimensions in Cinema is generously supported by the Susan Wildberg Morgenstein Fund. Media sponsor: SFSTATION.COM. Hotel sponsor: Triton Hotel.
Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m.
By Atom Egoyan, 1987, 96 minutes
Followed by a discussion with Atom Egoyan, director
This story of mistaken and found identities is set in a nursing home, a condominium and a telephone-sex establishment. Using a collection of video images—television, pornography, home movies and surveillance—the film observes the breakdown and restoration of a dislocated family. Darkly humorous and unpredictable, Family Viewing is a journey into a world of brutality and sentimentality.
Thursday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Love Is a Treasure
By Eija-Liisa Ahtila, 2002, 55 minutes
Followed by a discussion with director Eija-Liisa Ahtila of the relationship between this film and her installation The Present (on view as part of Reel Sculpture: Film into Art). Both works share the same plot.
Love Is a Treasure features five vignettes about five women who have developed psychoses. Through special effects that seamlessly situate impossibilities and hallucinations, each episode encompasses a psyche.
Thursday, June 12, 7 p.m.
By Abbas Kiarostami, 1999, 90 minutes, in Farsi with English subtitles
Remarks by Hamid Naficy, professor of art history and film and media studies, Rice University
In present-day Tehran, Hossain Farazmand, a journalist, goes to cover the arrest of Hossain Sabzian, a young man accused of fraud. Earlier, Sabzian had persuaded the Ahankhah family that he was the well-known film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, then borrowed money from them. Sabzian was arrested. Farazmand attempts to borrow a tape recorder. A documentary filmmaker (Kiarostami as himself) begins a documentary investigation of the case.