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A Quest of Origins:
Films by Larry Gottheim
in collaboration with Los Angeles Filmforum

Mon Apr 30 | 8 pm | $8–6
Jack H. Skirball Screening Series

This program surveys the trailblazing career of one of America’s foremost avant-garde masters. Best known for the cycle Elective Affinities, a series of four feature-length films started in the early 1970s and completed in 1981, Gottheim has carried out an absorbing exploration of the relationship of images to sound and time, examined issues of racial, cultural and personal identity, and considered the theme of nature in art. He is also the founder of the influential Department of Cinema Studies at SUNY Binghamton

In person: Larry Gottheim

Gottheim's Cinema is a quest of origins. The films elaborate a response to the fictions of our world, the construction of images and sounds, the repeating cycles of life and nature. The profoundness of Gottheim’s art is to elaborate a body of work outside of fashion and within a search for an authentic language of cinematic discourse.”– John Hanhardt

[There will be a screening of different films by Larry Gottheim at LA Film Forum on Sunday, April 29
– see information below].

Detailed Program for Monday April 30 at REDCAT

Blues (1969, 8 ½ min., silent, 16mm, 16fps.)
A bowl of blueberries in milk, changing light radiant on the berries and on the glazed bowl, the ever more radiant orb of milk transforming into glowing light itself, with a brief shadow coda answering the complex play of shadows. The regular pulses of light framing the looser rhythmus of the spoon, itself a frame. A charging of each of the frame's edges with its own particular energy. Within and without, whites and blues, lines and curves. The pulses of vision, the simple natural processes, lift the spirit. – L. G.

Mouches Volantes – Elective Affinities, Part II
(1976, 69 min., color and b&w, sound, 16mm)
Elective Affinities is a series of four feature-length films Gottheim started in the early 1970s and completed in 1981 with Tree of Knowledge; the series explores not only images and their relationship to sound and time (a recurring theme in his work), they also examine issues such as family, psychology, education, freedom, and the theme of nature in art.
In Mouches Volantes… three elements… were brought together: the suggestive title….; a narration by Angelina Johnson of the story of the life of her husband, Blind Willie Johnson; and groups of visual material, light fragments from my own personal world of occupations…. As in all my films, the basic processes of cinema, the exposing of film stock to light, here the stringing together of linear patterns of sound and image, become metaphors, embodiments of acts of coming to feel, coming to know. – L. G

Mnemosyne Mother of Muses
(1986, 18 min., 16mm)
A mirrored form in counter-movement, dense with emotion-charged memory - a rapidly sparking dynamism of image and afterimage, swirling resonant words/music, juxtaposing loss, my father's stroke, Toscanini, Siodmak's The Killers, the Red Robin Diner…. I seem to be quickening. – LG

Your Television Traveler
(1991, 17 min., 16mm)
The history of space, the place of mystery, the mystery of trace, the space of history.—L.G.

The Opening
(2005, 8 min., video)
(excerpt from Chants & Dances for Hand, work-in-progress)
This is the first section to be released from a large work constructed from material made in Haiti, mostly on Hi-8 video. Hand is my son. He’s now 12. The initial production was partially supported by a grant from the Jerome Foundation. My venture in Haiti was to some extent inspired by Maya Deren. I was searching for traditional forms that related to the structures of my previous films. And something else.—L.G.

Born 1936, Larry Gottheim taught himself 16mm filmmaking in the 1960s and became one of America’s leading avant-garde filmmakers. From his late-1960s series of sublime “single-shot” films to the dense sound/image constructs of the mid-1970s and after, his cinema is the cinema of presence, of observation, and of deep conscious engagement. While addressing genres of landscape, diary and assemblage filmmaking, Gottheim’s work properly stands alone in its intensive investigations of the paradoxes between direct, sensual experience in collision with complex structures of repetition, anticipation and memory.
Gottheim developed the Department of Cinema in Binghamton, N.Y. and taught there for more than three decades. This extremely influential department attracted the most talented artists, academics, and filmmakers of the day including Ken Jacobs, Hollis Frampton, Peter Kubelka, and Ernie Gehr among many others. In the 1990’s Gottheim has also served for a brief time as director of the Filmmaker’s Co-op in New York.
Larry Gottheim’s films are in the collections of museums and archives throughout the world, and a program of his restored early films premiered at the 2005 New York Film Festival.


First Period: Blues (1969)
Fog Line (1970)
Doorway (1970)
Thought (1970, re-titled 1980)
Harmonica (1971)
Barn Rushes (1971)
Second Period: “Elective Affinities”
Horizons (1971-73)
Mouches Volantes (1976)
Four Shadows (1978)
Tree of Knowledge (1980)
Third Period: Natural Selection (1983)
“Sorry/Hear Us” (1984)
Fourth Period:
Mnemosyne Mother of Muses (1986)
The Red Thread (1987)
Machete/Gillette ... Mama (1989)
Your Television Traveler (1991)
Fifth Period: gathering material in Haiti for a long video project, Chants and Dances for Hand (1991-now)

The Jack H. Skirball Screening Series is curated by Steve Anker and Bérénice Reynaud
REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for innovative visual, performing and media arts, is located at the corner of W. 2nd St. and S. Hope St., inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Tickets are $8 for the general public, $6 for students with valid ID. Seating is general admission. Tickets may be purchased at the REDCAT box office—located at the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets, or by calling 213.237.2800, or at www.redcat.org .

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