Arts & Events

Head to BAMPFA and Get Your "Hip" On!

Gar Smith
Monday February 13, 2017 - 04:23:00 PM

This week, the University of California's Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) unveils a new exhibition/film series devoted to the transformative art and revolutionary politics of the 1960s. Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the "Summer of Love," Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia (February 8 through May 21, 2017) has assembled more than 400 pieces of Sixties ephemera—ranging from psychedelic posters and magazines to hand-made clothing and home movies—that capture the radical politics and flamboyant explosion of creativity that illuminated the advent of the "Counterculture."

A warning: if you are expecting lightshows and a soundtrack of Beatles music, please note: most of the artifacts on display involve printed matter—journals, mandalas, tracts, treatises, manifestos—so bring your reading classes.

There were, however, two creations on display that stood out—going well beyond the realm of two-dimensional print.




One was "The Knowledge Box," a multimedia environment the size of a large storage unit. You walk in the front door (no more than four visitors at a time) and 24 slide projectors hidden in the walls and ceiling suddenly engulf viewers in a montage of images from the Sixties—an overwhelming blitz of information amped up even further by an audio feed of sounds ranging from historic political speeches and protest chants to Frank Sinatra ballads. 

The other outstanding discovery was found in another hall. It is an actual surviving example of an invention that prefigured the arrival of the Internet, the smart phone, and social media. A five-foot-tall wooden cabinet with a coin slot and a viewing screen, it proudly bears the label, "Community Memory." 

This is a singular survivor of what used to be a network of stand-alone computer kiosks implanted around the Bay Area—much like that other near-anachronism, the telephone booth—that allowed anyone to connect to an electronic world-of-knowledge. Downloading information was free, posting new information cost a quarter. 

Related News: For a rare look back at the early roots of the computer revolution, drop by BAMPFA on Saturday from 1-3 PM for a panel discussion of "Counterculture/Cyberculture" featuring Free Speech Movement vet Lee Felsenstein and three other luminaries. A founding member of the Homebrew Computer Club and a digital pioneer who had a hand in the development of Community Memory, Felsenstein also was the designer of the Osborne 1, the world's first commercially available "personal computer." (Note: The Osborne weighed in at 1.35 pounds.) 

BAMPFA's Ballooney Bonus 

In the spirit of the occasion (honoring both the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and the first anniversary of the new BAMPFA complex) Goodby Silverstein & Partners have announced the release of a free "augmented reality" app that allows users to write uplifting messages on virtual "love balloons" that they can then launch into the skies around the Bay Area. These "Free the Love" messages remain locked in geospatial locations (similar to the Pokemon-hunt game) where they can be seen by other players. Available at the App Store and Google Play (search for "Free the Love" or "BAMPFA"). 


Hippie Modernism: Cinema and Counterculture, 1964-1974 

Here is a brief introduction to the screenings. 

WEDNESDAY / February, 8 


D. A. PENNEBAKER (US, 1968) 

With legendary performances by Otis Redding, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Scott McKenzie, Hugh Masekela, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, the Animals, Ravi Shankar, and Janis Joplin, Monterey Pop. Photographed by Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles, Pennebaker et al. (82 minutes, Color, 35mm, From UNCSA, permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection) 

PRECEDED BY: BLACK PANTHERS. (Agnès Varda, US, 1969). Features several notable activists, including Stokely Carmichael, Kathleen Cleaver, and Huey Newton. (28 minutes, Color, DCP, From Janus Films/Criterion Collection) Total running time: 110 minutes. 

SATURDAY / 2.11.17 



REPEATS SUNDAY / February, 12 

Shot on location in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Medium Cool examines the use and abuse of journalism in an era when widespread popular protests were increasingly subject to police violence and government-sanctioned subversion. (Philip French, The Guardian). Written, photographed by Wexler. With Robert Forster, Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz, Marianna Hill. (106 minutes, Color, 35mm, From Academy Film Archive, permission Paramount) 

SUNDAY / February, 12 




Scott Saul is a professor of English at UC Berkeley who specializes in twentieth-century American literature and cultural history; his most recent book is Becoming Richard Pryor. 

WEDNESDAY / February, 15 



This Academy Award-nominated film makes the case against US intervention in Vietnam using an incendiary montage style and "connects the bloody dots between politicians and business leaders, Western imperialists, and puppet governments. Completed in 1969, Pig is "an explosive analysis of the American war machine" (Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research). Photographed by John F. Newman, Jean-Jacques Rochut. (101 minutes, B&W, 35mm, From UCLA Film & Television Archive, permission Nancy de Antonio) 

FRIDAY / February, 17 



Filmed in Central Park with a cast of Actors Studio professionals and random passersby, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One is William Greaves’s playful investigation of relationships as he works to disrupt and question the traditional hierarchical structures of filmmaking. Photographed by Terry Filgate, Steven Larner. With Patricia Ree Gilbert, Don Fellows, Jonathan Gordon. Music by Miles Davis. (75 minutes, Color, 35mm, From Janus Films/ Criterion Collection) 

SATURDAY / February, 18 



(a.k.a. One Plus One). The evolution of the recording sessions for the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil" provides the connective tissue of Godard’s filmic essay on creation, destruction, and revolution. The hit tune comes together as Godard takes everything else apart. Written by Godard. Photographed by Tony Richmond. With the Rolling Stones, Anne Wiazemsky, Ian Quarrier, Frank Dymon. (111 minutes, Color, DCP, From ABKCO Films) 

PRECEDED BY: RAT LIFE AND DIET IN NORTH AMERICA (Joyce Wieland, Canada/US, 1968). Joyce Wieland’s astute and humorous fable of political oppression, escape, and the search for a better life. (16 minutes, Color, 16mm, From CFMDC). Total running time: 127 minutes. 

SUNDAY / February19 



Deftly combining footage from more than 20 camera operators, Gimme Shelter scrutinizes the ill-fated free Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway in 1969. The film shuttles between the band’s performances and the editing studio where band members review the footage leading up to the murder of a young concertgoer. Photographed by David Maysles, Albert Maysles. Edited by Charlotte Zwerin. With The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers. (91 minutes. Color, 35mm, From Maysles Films Inc., permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection) 

Additional screenings include the following films. 

Zabriskie Point 

Saturday, March 4: 8:15 PM 

Sunday, March 19: 7 PM 

Michelangelo Antonioni
United States, 1970. Antonioni filmed the sixties war between radical and straight cultures in LA and Death Valley. 

Stagger Lee 

Friday, March 10: 7:30 PM 

Francisco Newman, Allen Willis
United States, 1970. An interview with Black Panther Bobby Seale while he was incarcerated in San Francisco County Jail. 

Punishment Park 

Saturday, March 18: 8:15 PM 

Peter Watkins
United States, 1971. A Vietnam War precursor to The Hunger Games. With the Black Panther short, Off the Pig! 

The Murder of Fred Hampton 

Thursday, March 23: 7 PM 

Howard Alk, Mike Gray
United States, 1971 

Restored 35mm Print 

This impassioned political documentary investigates the killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton. 

Space Is the Place 

Saturday, April 1: 8 PM 

John Coney
United States, 1974, 1993 

Intergalactic be-bop meets black liberation in this surrealist musical document of Sun Ra. 

Luminous Procuress 

Friday, April 21: 7:30 PM 

Steven Arnold
United States, 1971 (World Premiere of Restored 16mm Print.) The legendary, gender-obliterating funfest unleashed by the cantankerous cross-dressing Cockettes 

Festival Express 

Saturday, April 29: 7:30 PM 

Bob Smeaton
UK, 2003 

Free Outdoor Public Showing on BAMPFA’s Addison Street Screen 

All aboard for a cross-Canada train tour with Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and other rock legends. With Les Blank’s short, God Respects Us When We Work, but Loves Us When We Dance

The Holy Mountain 

Sunday, May 7: 7 PM 

Alejandro Jodorowsky
Mexico, 1973 

The most outrageously psychedelic film ever made. 

Elegy to Ecstasy: Films from Canyon Cinema 

Thursday, May 11: 7 PM 

The visionary Bay Area filmmaking collective Canyon Cinema has been expanding cinema—and minds—since 1967. 

Analog Light Show Festival 

Thursday, May 18: 7 PM 

Friday, May 19: 7 PM 

Saturday, May 20: 7 PM 

Celebrate the psychedelic art-form of live light performance at this festival of live music and visual wizardry.