September 10–Ongoing, 2021
The final event in the series is a live screening of Joris Ivens’s New Earth (1933), and Yuyan Wang’s All Movements Should Kill the Wind (2019), selected by guest artists Vic Brooks and Evan Calder Williams. This screening has been postponed, with a new date to be announced in the coming weeks.
HD Video (originally IMAX)
8:28, color, sound
Cityscape is one of the family of my works dealing with camera motion, an interest dating back to Wavelength. My friend Graeme Ferguson, one of the originators of IMAX, suggested doing a version of La Région Centrale (1971) in that format after seeing the film, but for me the idea held little interest. I felt La Région Centrale was complete and I had accomplished my purpose.
Years later, I was approached again to make a short film with IMAX, now in digital format. This time, instead of a landscape film, vast and unpopulated, I was interested in looking at my own city through a more linear view. The part of Toronto visible in Cityscape is actually rarely seen by its citizens. We seldom think of Lake Ontario at the foot of Yonge Street, but the skyline viewed from the islands just offshore is interesting. The title makes clear that the city is the subject.
In Cityscape, camera movements—panning and rotating at different speeds—activate the city skyline. The soundtrack is built on the “Amen Brother” drum break, which is central to Drum and Bass and Hip Hop, an expression of the energy of the city. The sound uses playback speed as a compositional element, rhythmically in sync with the camera movements.
Although Cityscape is shot in color, its muted concrete tones link closely with the material monochromatism of Ready Mix, composed with a striking tonal palette. In these and La Région Centrale, camera movement drives the structure subtly but in substantial ways. The latter is cosmic, spanning twenty-four hours and the entire firmament. Cityscape is an urban landscape and appropriately scaled. Ready Mix looks closely at the narrative of turning rock into concrete and is resolutely earthbound.
Michael Snow was born in Toronto in 1928 and is a filmmaker and artist.
Vertical Roll, (1972)
19:38; black-and-white video
Lucy Raven/Joan Jonas
When asked to choose a work to pair with Lucy Raven’s Ready Mix, my mind went immediately to the work of the men that so conspicuously occupy Dia’s large space in Beacon. After all, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970), much of Michael Heizer’s work, and Richard Serra’s work with both concrete and his film Railroad Turnbridge (1976) have obvious connections to Raven’s film documenting the making of concrete blocks. It didn’t quite seem right, though. I think of Lucy as a feminist occupying the materials of her patriarchal forebearers in a particularly interesting way. Watching the first eight minutes of Ready Mix, as the barrel of a cement truck rolls over and over, an alternative came to mind. The flatness of the surface, punctuated by a line of shadow, persisted for a duration that allowed my mind to wander to Joan Jonas’s 1972 work, Vertical Roll.
I liked the connection. Jonas’s embrace of a durational structure was an influence on my own work as well as younger artists like Raven. As you move through Vertical Roll, the piece unfolds slowly. Similarly, Ready Mix reveals itself. It is only after the truck moves out of frame that you understand what you’ve been watching, and a complete understanding of the work is withheld until the final block finds its place, concluding the film. In the last two minutes of Jonas’s film, the artist’s face slowly enters the frame. This breaks the flatness of the screen you’ve been watching, creates a three-dimensional space, and literally inserts her body in between the screen and the camera, confronting viewers with her stare. While Jonas’s subject is the female body and its representation, Vertical Roll’s form connotes the industrial, as the stark black and white of early video is combined with the technological in its interrupted video signal, and the raw metallic sound of a spoon marking the time. The importance of Jonas to those of us who think of video as a performative and spatial endeavor cannot be overstated. As Raven occupies Dia’s Chelsea space with her ode to industry, it seems fitting to acknowledge this with a work by one of the women included in Dia’s collection.
Sharon Lockhart was born in Norwood, Massachusetts, in 1964, and is a filmmaker and artist.
Joan Jonas was born in New York in 1936. She is an artist and the subject of an exhibition opening at Dia Beacon on October 8, 2021.
The final event in Dia’s Film Club series is a screening of Joris Ivens’s Nieuwe gronden (New Earth, 1933) and Yuyan Wang’s All Movements Should Kill the Wind (2019), selected by guest artists Vic Brooks and Evan Calder Williams.
Vic Brooks is senior curator of time-based visual art at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; cochair of the Contemporary Curatorial Workshop at Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts; and visiting faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. She makes films with Evan Calder Williams and Lucy Raven as 13BC and is a 2021 recipient of the Warhol Foundation's Curatorial Research Fellowship.
Evan Calder Williams is associate professor at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He is the author of Combined and Uneven Apocalypse (2011), Roman Letters (2011), Shard Cinema (2017), and Why Fire (forthcoming). He is the translator, with David Fernbach, of Mario Mieli’s Towards a Gay Communism (2018), and his essays can be found in journals such as Film Quarterly, Cultural Politics, The Italianist, Frieze, Journal of American Studies, and Estetica. He makes films with Lucy Raven and Vic Brooks as 13BC.
Free. Register for the event here.