Late twentieth-century art as a platform for individual projection has inaugurated an aesthetic of ambiguity which permeates contemporary examples of cultural reflections. Informed by the resonances of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando in the exhibition and Issue #235 of Aperture magazine, certainty is becoming our nemesis presents works that trace the blurred boundaries of self-expression and how ambiguity of identity manifests as an emotional survival strategy.
From the continuous dissolve of bodies in Alice Anne Parker’s Riverbody (1970), to the biometric facial recognition of Zach Blas’ Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face and the lush visualization of intergenerational transgender identity in Zackary Drucker’s Unison (2013–2017), the program probes the rich, strange, and provocative canon of contemporary self-expression in film, foregrounding the expansiveness of the self in relation to recently mainstreamed discourses on the fluidity and malleability of gender and identity. New media technologies and conditions of time and place give shape to these artworks.
In the editor’s introduction to Issue #235, Swinton proposes “how the once essential search for a definable, and immutable, identity has become stifling to our sense of development and the possibilities of finding true fellowship with other complex, variously wired, hesitant sensitive beings,” as a framework for considering Orlando, the novel. certainty is becoming our nemesis, while flirting with notions of timelessness and perpetuity, extends this framework to refute notions of stability and instead offer radical gestures of intimacy.
certainty is becoming our nemesis is guest curated by Steve Polta, director of San Francisco Cinematheque. The program runs daily in the Screening Room at the top of the hour.
Alice Anne Parker
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Steve Polta is a writer, archivist, historian, and Director of San Francisco Cinematheque where he has worked since 1998. He is the co-founder and current curator of Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS film festival, founded 2010, now presented annually at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2014 he was awarded a Curatorial Research Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for the study of contemporary and historic performance cinema which resulted in Perpetual Motion, an extensive series of live cinema performances presented in San Francisco in 2016. He holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from San José State University. He is co-editor with Brett Kashmere of Craig Baldwin: Avant to Live! documenting the film and curatorial work of the Bay Area artist to be published in collaboration with Incite: A Journal of Experimental Media in 2020. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Special thanks and recognition to Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, the Canyon Cinema Foundation, and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles for their support and inspiration for certainty is becoming our nemesis.