At each of the Friday Flights events in 2016, they presented three film programs based around elements of the Getty’s infrastructure: TRAM, QUARRY, and COLLECTIONS.
June 10: TRAM
Directed by Robert Breer
1974, 16mm (digital presentation), 9 min.
A lush and atmospheric account of a train journey taken through Japan, Breer’s short film combines live action, rotoscoping, and his own line drawings. Here, the view out the train’s window is an occasion for a playful examination of perspective, sequence, and form.
Directed by Standish Lawder
1968, 16mm (digital presentation), 12 min.
A 5:00 p.m. crowd descends on the escalators of the PanAm building. The work-a-day procession, filmed in muted black and white, becomes a cinematic epiphany, however, when the credits roll. “Without doubt, the sickest joke I’ve ever seen on film.”—Hollis Frampton
89MM FROM EUROPE
Directed by Marcel Łoziński
1993, 35mm (digital presentation), 12 min.
In the city of Brest, in Belarus, a train from Paris pulls to a stop so that rail workers can switch out its wheels to accommodate the track gauge—which is 89 millimeters wider—across the border in the former Soviet Union. More than an allegory of East meeting West, the documentary captures the simple scene in all its complexity, paying equal attention to the workers and the curious European passengers watching them from onboard.
Directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez
2013, 35mm and DCP (digital presentation), 118 min.
High above a jungle in Nepal, pilgrims make an ancient journey by cable car to a mountaintop temple. Filmed in long, airborne shots through the Himalayas, Manakamana, a 2013 prizewinner at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival, is equal parts ethnography, staged documentary, and science fiction. Special thanks to Pacho Velez and Brigid McCaffrey.
July 10: QUARRY
Directed by Richard P. Rogers
1970, 16mm (digital presentation), 12 min
The first movie of acclaimed filmmaker Richard P. Rogers, Quarry captures the carousing and bathing rites of a group of teenagers at a swimming hole in Quincy, Massachusetts. Shot in 1967, and set to the strains of radio rock, news, and casual conversation, Rogers contrasts his majestic portrait of a summer idyll with invocations of the looming threat of Vietnam.
Directed by Jane Crawford
1994, video (digital presentation), 12min
This short video documents three pour projects from 1969 by Robert Smithson, including Asphalt Rundown, the artist’s first monumental land work, which was made in a quarry outside of Rome. In an interview included as voice-over, Smithson touches on the entropic nature of his work, as well wastelands, closed systems, Watergate, and geological time.
Directed by Manfred Kirchheimer
1968, 16mm (digital presentation), 30 min
Manhattan is the quarry in this elusive film poem. Stone gargoyles and goddesses—the adornments on old masoned buildings—watch as a huge mechanical claw dismantles other old structures to make way for the steel and glass skyscrapers of tomorrow’s city. The constant refrain of rock faces reminds us that stone is a material forged in nature rather than by industry, and suggests our shared vulnerability.
Directed by Elizabeth Knafo
2014, digital video, 54 min
Rare Earth explores the re-opening of a historically toxic mine in the California desert, and the intensifying land rush for high-tech minerals across the world. The essay film is a portrait of the changing desert landscape, the legacy of treasure hunting in the American West, and the residents who grapple with the deepening impacts of industrial mining— all the more critical in our era of global climate change.
July 29: COLLECTIONS
LIFE AT A SNAIL’S PACE
Directed by Alexandra Gaulupeau
2016, digital video, 23 min
Marla Coppolino is the Snail Wrangler. This brief portrait follows her mission to bring awareness to the importance and beauty of land snails through education, niche commerce, and creative display. A trained malacologist and biological illustrator, Coppolino also works wrangling snails for photography and film shoots and makes her own snail art with a collection of antique and handmade miniatures: snails ride magic carpets in the sky, ooze out of teacups, and slide across tiny bottles of champagne.
Directed by Lee Anne Schmitt and Lee Lynch
2010, 16mm (digital projection), 20 min
In 1884 two boys in Southern California discovered a cave of Chumash Indian artifacts in the San Martin Mountains on land that is now part of the Chiquita Canyon landfill, located in the small town of Castaic. Known as Bowers Cave, the cave was named after the amateur archeologist Stephen Bower, a notorious looter of Indian sites, who bought the artifacts from the boys, and then resold them for a profit. This film loosely traces the history of the cave’s collection, meditating on the eradication of the Chumash culture, as well as a larger conflict between the metaphysical and the material.
POSSUM TROT: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CALVIN BLACK
Directed by Allie Light and Irving Saraf
1977, 16mm (digital presentation), 28 min
Possum Trot tells the story of Calvin Black, a folk artist who lived in the Mojave Desert and created more than 80 life-size female dolls, each with its own personality, function, and costume. Black also built the “Bird Cage Theater,” where the dolls were orchestrated to perform and sing in voices recorded by the artist. The film documents the artist’s legacy, while also using the medium of cinema to enable the dolls to move, sing, and come to life in the protected space of the theater, just as Black imagined.
Directed by Harrod Blank
1992, 16mm (digital presentation) 64 min
Documentarian Harrod Blank examines the obsession that drives him and others to modify automobiles and motorcycles into fanciful vehicular sculptures and canvases for eccentric collections. One car is morphed into an alligator; a motorcycle becomes a hamburger; and other vehicles are covered entirely with faucets, pennies, and buttons. The artists who have painstakingly created them are builders on the one hand, yet each vehicle travels with specially anointed grace; each is a shrine.