Ism, Ism, Ism: Program Three & Program Four

Umbrales: Experimental Women Filmmakers from Latin America + Altered Surfaces: Psychedelia and Abstraction

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Program 3 - Umbrales: Experimental Women Filmmakers from Latin America

This program showcases female filmmakers who sought to carve out a place within the male-dominated world of Latin American independent audiovisual production. Key works, such as Argentine filmmaker Narcisa Hirsch’s Come Out (1971), exemplify the defiant position toward gendered and essentializing aesthetics expected of Latin American women filmmakers. This program includes pioneering Uruguayan filmmaker Lydia García Millán’s Color (1955), one of the first abstract experimental films from Latin America; the politically charged Super 8 experiments by Puerto Rican underground artist Poli Marichal; and a recent video essay by Mexican artist Ximena Cuevas.

Come Out
Narcisa Hirsch, Argentina, 1971, 11 min.
Lydia Garcia, Uruguay, 1955, 4 min.
Desnudo con alcatraces
Silvia Gruner, Mexico, 1986, 2 min., silent, b&w
Gloria Camiruaga, Chile/US, 1982-1984, 5 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
Marie Louise Alemann, Argentina, 1967, 19 min.
Cecilia Vicuña, Chile/US, 1983, 19 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
Devil in the Flesh
Ximena Cuevas, Mexico, 2003, 5 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
Vivian Ostrovsky, Brazil, 1983, 10 min.
Blues Tropical
Poli Marichal, Puerto Rico, 1982, 4 min.

Program 4 - Altered Surfaces: Psychedelia and Abstraction

Abstraction has been a recurring strategy in Latin American visual cultures since long before the European Conquest. Over the past century, and often in dialogue with artists elsewhere, Latin Americans working in diverse media have explored both abstraction or – in the case of the Concrete art movement, who rejected the term “abstract” art as too suggestive of a link to a figurative realm that is being abstracted – “pure” explorations of color and form. Not surprisingly, filmmakers have participated actively in this process of exploration, often in collaboration with artists from other media. Enrique Pineda Barnet’s Cosmorama (1964) uses the kinetic sculptures of the Romanian-Cuban artist Sandú Darié Laver as a point of departure, much like the way Luís Ernesto Arocha’s AZILEF (1971) draws on the process of Colombian sculptor Feliza Bursztyn. Other filmmakers proceed from urban and architectural references, such as Prague’s public transit system in Azucena Losana’s At Your Heels (2017), or the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Teo Hernández’ Nuestra señora de Paris (1981-1982), and render these in ways that cross back and forth between abstraction and recognizable representations, while still others reference the altered sensory perceptions and exaggerated color palettes of psychedelic experiences. Together, like the diverse approaches of the concrete, neo-concrete, geometric abstraction, “grupo Madí,” “grupo Ruptura,” and other movements in the visual arts, these filmmakers pursue colors, light, shadows, and forms as the basis for their work.

Placeres de la Carne
Horacio Valleregio, Argentina, 1977, 12 min.
Becky’s Eye
Willie Varela, US, 1977, 3 min., silent
Nuestra señora de Paris
Teo Hernández, France, 1981-1982, 22 min.
Enrique Pineda Barnet, Cuba, 1965, 5 min.
Electric Arthropods
Manuel DeLanda, US, 2017, 4 min.
As without so within
Manuela de Laborde, Mexico/US/UK, 2016, 25 min.

Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina) was organized by Los Angeles Filmforum as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Ism, Ism, Ism surveys Latin America’s vibrant experimental production from the 1930s through today. www.ismismism.org

Ism, Ism, Ism is accompanied by a bilingual publication, Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza, editors, University of California Press, 2017) placing Latino and Latin American experimental cinema within a broader dialogue that explores different periods, cultural contexts, image-making models, and considerations of these filmmakers within international cinema. Available worldwide, https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520296084.

This series is presented as part of Subversive Elements, Lightbox’s ongoing spotlight on experimental artists’ cinema.