Arts & Events
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
HASKELL WEXLER (US, 1969). NEW 35MM PRINT
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
HASKELL WEXLER (US, 1969) NEW 35MM PRINT
INTRODUCTION Scott Saul
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
IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG
EMILE DE ANTONIO (US, 1969). RESTORED 35MM PRINT
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
SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: TAKE ONE
WILLIAM GREAVES (US, 1968)
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
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
JEAN-LUC GODARD (UK, 1968). DIGITAL RESTORATION
(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
ALBERT AND DAVID MAYSLES, CHARLOTTE ZWERIN (US, 1970). ARCHIVAL 35MM PRINT
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Sunday, May 7: 7 PM
Alejandro Jodorowsky Mexico, 1973
The most outrageously psychedelic film ever made.
Thursday, May 11: 7 PM
The visionary Bay Area filmmaking collective Canyon Cinema has been expanding cinema—and minds—since 1967.
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.