This year’s “Cinema on the Verge” exhibition of media art installations and screenings is centered at a new location, the Brandon Gallery (next to Cafe Brasil on Westheimer), with a satellite exhibition on view at Rice University.
STREET SCENES: Street Photography and the Moving Image
“Street Scenes” is a multimedia gallery exhibition with supplementary screenings presenting works by four major visual artists: James Nares, Ken Jacobs, Jem Cohen, and Cheryl Dunn. The artists will be displaying both photographic and video works in the Brandon Gallery, as well as screenings in the Brandon, Menil Collection, and Sundance Cinemas.
The series takes a wide-ranging look at street life as it is stimulated and captured by cameras. The film series begins with Everybody Street, Cheryl Dunn’s illuminating film of street photographers at work, including Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, and many more. Dunn is herself a noted street photographer, and her exhibit in the Brandon Gallery will feature her photographs and videos of street art and her street artist friends, including Mark Gonzales, Margaret Kilgallen, and Chris Johanson.
James Nares is best known for his remarkable paintings, but he recently wowed audiences at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Sundance Film Festival with his 62-minute film installation, Street, a 61-minute super slow-motion film of a drive through New York City streets. The camera speed produces a succession of stunning portraits of pedestrians in their milieu, and is street cinematography of the highest order. Nares will present Street as an installation in the Brandon Gallery and as a free theatrical presentation in the lobby of the Menil Collection on Thursday, November 13. Nares has actually been making short film motion studies throughout his artistic career and will be supplementing his Menil presentation with the 1976 film Pendulum. He will appear at the Brandon Gallery, November 15, to present a more extensive compilation of his Super 8 and video films from 1976 through the present.
Jem Cohen had a significant theatrical film success last year with his film Museum Hours. However, he has been well known for some time for the uncanny street photographer’s eye that distinguished his music videos and films for Patti Smith, R.E.M., Fugazi, and others, as well as his own short films. At the Brandon Gallery, in addition to showing several short videos, Cohen will put on rare display blowups of the ghostly Polaroids he has taken of New York over the past 30 years. “To me,” Cohen says, “they’re almost like a sleepwalker’s view of the city.” At Sundance Cinemas, Cohen will present, for the first time, a compilation of short films he has made of political street actions, including a set of “newsreels” he produced on the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Ken Jacobs is also going to present a film of Occupy Wall Street photography, and like Cohen’s, it is political protest viewed through a visual poet’s eye. Jacobs, a legendary avant-garde filmmaker, has long been known for his experimentation with 3D film and perception. His film depicting Occupy demonstrators and other street phenomena, Blankets for Indians, screens in glorious 3D at Sundance Cinemas on November 15. The photographs and videos he will present in the Brandon Gallery are also exhibited in 3D. Both Cohen and Jacobs were deeply inspired by the classic street photography film, In the Street by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb and James Agee, and the pair will show and discuss it, as well as their own gallery exhibits, at the Brandon on November 13.
The featured artists’ films and photographs concentrate mostly on New York City, although Cohen’s and Dunn’s photos include images of other U.S. cities. In order to bring some of the exciting new photography capturing Houston’s streets and street art into the gallery, HCAS has launched a competition on Instagram, where much exciting new street photography is emerging. Winners of the competition, picked by Cheryl Dunn, will be displayed on a monitor in the gallery, and celebrated at the gallery opening on November 12.
An additional screening in the “Street Scenes” series celebrates the ninetieth birthday of Robert Frank, probably the most influential of American street photographers. C’est Vrai is Frank’s street movie, filmed in a breathtaking, continuous hour-long take, blending staged fiction and unstaged documentary, through the streets of New York. Guest artist DeeDee Halleck will talk about her experiences observing Frank at work as a filmmaker and introduce another rarely screened film, Frank’s Keep Busy, his first movie filmed at his refuge in Nova Scotia.
Finally, the festival’s outdoor Music and Film series in the Cafe Brasil/Brandon Gallery patio includes two films that are part of the “Street Scenes” program: Jalanan (“Streetside”), a dynamic new film on street musicians in Jakarta, and Stations of the Elevated, a visual city symphony documenting early graffiti art on New York subways and streets by Manfred Kircheimer, with a score by Charles Mingus.
James Nares (born London, 1953) lives and works in New York. His oeuvre encompasses painting, sculpture, drawing, film, and video. In his paintings, he seeks to capture the very moments in which he is creating them; individual paintings are most frequently made in single brush strokes that record a gestural passage of time and motion across the canvas. Nares’ films and videos reference many of the same preoccupations with movement, rhythm, and repetition, while also ranging further afield in their scope. His work is included in a number of public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. In 2008, Anthology Film Archives hosted a complete retrospective of his films and videos. In Spring 2014, Rizzoli published the first monograph dedicated to James Nares’ work in all media over the last four decades. Nares’ video Street, acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was the centerpiece for a 2013 exhibition he curated for the museum from their collection on the subject of street photography.
Jem Cohen has made over 65 films including the feature length projects Museum Hours, Instrument, Chain,and Benjamin Smoke(with Peter Sillen). Short films include Lost BookFound, Little Flags,and Night Scene New York. He also makes still photographs, installations, and shows of projected images with live soundtracks including We Have an Anchor, chosen for the 2013 BAM Next Wave Series. His work is in collections including those of MoMA and the Whitney Museum and has been broadcast by PBS, Arte, the BBC, and the Sundance Channel. He’s had retrospectives at venues including the NFT in London, Buenos Aires Independent Film Fest, and Spain’s Punto de Vista, which published the monograph, Signal Fires: The Cinema of Jem Cohen, in 2010. He has collaborated extensively with musicians including Fugazi, Patti Smith, Terry Riley, Vic Chesnutt, R.E.M., DJ Rupture, and Elliott Smith. Cohen was extensively involved in overturning proposed restrictions on street photography in New York City.
Cheryl Dunn is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. Upon graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in art history, Dunn
moved to Europe to pursue fashion photography. After traveling and shooting extensively for two years, she moved back to New York and began documenting city streets and the people who leave their marks there, including skaters, bikers, graffiti artists, and protesters. Her work has been widely published in Spin, Vogue, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, and Dazed and Confused, andin her books Bicycle Gangs of New York and Some Kinda Vocation. Dunn’s work was featured in the museum exhibition, film and book titled Beautiful Losers, as well as at the Tate Modern, Deitch Projects, and many other galleries and museums. In the mid 1990s, Dunn began to focus much more on filmmaking, including the short films Sped, Back Worlds for Words, Creative Life Store, and the recent feature documentary Everybody Street,which has been widely screened at international film festivals.
“Street Scenes” Exhibition
Brandon Gallery (Westheimer and Dunlavy, next to Cafe Brasil)
November 12 to December 12
“Street Scenes” Programs
(All shows are free except Robert Frank on Nov. 14 and Blankets for Indians on Nov. 15)
Wednesday, November 12
4:00 p.m. Exhibition opening and screening of Everybody Street presented by Cheryl Dunn (Brandon Gallery)
Thursday, November 13
3:30 p.m. Ken Jacobs and Jem Cohen present In the Street and other films (Brandon Gallery)
7:00 p.m. Street and Pendulum with James Nares (Menil Collection Lobby)
8:00 p.m. Daniel Ziv’s Jalanan (“Streetside”) (Brandon Patio)
Friday, November 14
2:00 p.m. Robert Frank: C’est Vrai and Keep Busy with DeeDee Halleck (MFAH Brown Auditorium)
4:05 p.m. Same Streets, Different Worlds with Jem Cohen (Sundance Cinemas 8)
8:00 & 9:15 p.m. Manfred Kircheimer’s Stations of the Elevated (Cafe Brasil/Brandon Patio)
Saturday, November 15
1:00 p.m. Blankets for Indians in 3D! with Ken Jacobs (Sundance Cinemas 2)|
4:00 p.m. The Films of James Nares (1976-2012) with James Nares (Brandon Gallery)
10:00 p.m. Cinema Arts Celebration at Cafe Brasil and the Brandon Gallery