McEvoy Arts Picks: Ala Ebtekar

Artist Ala Ebtekar revisits details of his photographic work Thirty-six Views of the Moon (2019) for the latest installment of McEvoy Arts Picks.

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

In May, McEvoy Arts invited Bay Area-based artist Ala Ebtekar as one of several artists and curators asked to share their cultural touchstones during the pandemic for the McEvoy Arts Picks series. Rather than offering a mixture of media and culture available at large, the artist returned to specific texts and book pages included in his artwork Thirty-six views of the Moon (2019), on display as part of McEvoy Arts’ exhibition What is an edition, anyway? Mixing poetry, critical theory, and literature, Ebtekar recontextualizes the resonant themes of this work to speak to questions of community, justice, and history in the zeitgeist today.

Ala Ebtekar, Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019, 59 individual cyanotypes on found book pages exposed to moonlight, dimensions variable. Spring 2019 edition. McEvoy Family Collection. Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line. Photo: Henrik Kam

A Statement from the Artist
The Spring edition of Thirty-six Views of the Moon, a series in four seasons, produced on the occasion of McEvoy Arts’ exhibition, What is an edition, anyway?, marked both the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 9, the first Lunar Module test flight, and the momentous Apollo 11 Moon landing, as well as the Black Panther Party’s “United Front Against Fascism” conference that took place that same weekend [July 18-21, 1969] in Oakland, California.

Thirty-six Views of the Moon is a collection of night exposures, left from dusk till dawn and exposed by moonlight on book pages from texts referencing the moon and night sky spanning the last ten centuries. Working with photographic negatives of the Moon from the Lick Observatory archives in Northern California and treating each book page with Potassium ferricyanide and Ammonium ferric citrate (cyanotype) to make the surface of the page light-sensitive, the pages are then exposed overnight by the UV-light emitted by the moon. The work takes its cue from a poem by Omar Khayyam that imagines us as the objects of the Moon’s omnipresent gaze and, in response, produces a vignette of windows on the Moon that abstract the typical celestial gaze, merging galaxy with ground to collapse space and time.


Drink wine and look at the moon
and think of all the civilizations
the moon has seen passing by

Omar Khayyam, eleventh-century mathematician, astronomer, and poet

The small man 
builds cages for everyone 
he knows,
While the sage, 
who has to duck his head 
when the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long 
For the 
Beautiful
Rowdy 
Prisoners.

Hafiz

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019
Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page*

*book: Divan-i Hafiz by Hafiz, self-published, 2001

The small man
builds cages for everyone
he knows,
While the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

Hafiz

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019
Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Hafiz. 2001. Divan-i Hafiz. Self-published.

Paul D did not answer because she didn't expect or want him to, but he did know what she meant. Listening to the doves in Alfred, Georgia, and having neither the right nor the permission to enjoy it because in that place mist, doves, sunlight, copper dirt, moon—every thing belonged to the men who had the guns. Little men, some of them, big men too, each one of whom he could snap like a twig if he wanted to. Men who knew their manhood lay in their guns and were not even embarrassed by the knowledge that without gunshot fox would laugh at them. And these "men" who made even vixen laugh could, if you let them, stop you from hearing doves or loving moonlight. So you protected yourself and loved small. Picked the tiniest stars out of the sky to own; lay down with head twisted in order to see the loved one over the rim of the trench before you slept. Stole shy glances at her between the trees at chain-up. Grass blades, salamanders, spiders, woodpeckers, beetles, a kingdom of ants. Anything bigger wouldn't do. A woman, a child, a brother--a big love like that would split you wide open in Alfred, Georgia. He knew exactly what she meant: to get to a place where you could love anything you chose--not to need permission for desire--well now, that was freedom. (pg. 162)

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019
Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Morrison, Toni, Beloved. Alfred A. Knopf, 1987

Paul D did not answer because she didn’t expect or want him to, but he did know what she meant. Listening to the doves in Alfred, Georgia, and having neither the right nor the permission to enjoy it because in that place mist, doves, sunlight, copper dirt, moon—every thing belonged to the men who had the guns. Little men, some of them, big men too, each one of whom he could snap like a twig if he wanted to. Men who knew their manhood lay in their guns and were not even embarrassed by the knowledge that without gunshot fox would laugh at them. And these “men” who made even vixen laugh could, if you let them, stop you from hearing doves or loving moonlight. So you protected yourself and loved small. Picked the tiniest stars out of the sky to own; lay down with head twisted in order to see the loved one over the rim of the trench before you slept. Stole shy glances at her between the trees at chain-up. Grass blades, salamanders, spiders, woodpeckers, beetles, a kingdom of ants. Anything bigger wouldn’t do. A woman, a child, a brother–a big love like that would split you wide open in Alfred, Georgia. He knew exactly what she meant: to get to a place where you could love anything you chose–not to need permission for desire–well now, that was freedom. (pg. 162)

Toni Morrison

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019
Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Morrison, Toni. 1987. Beloved. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

8th century Persian Poet Rudaki. Ghazals. Lithograph edition. Iran: 1876

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019. Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Text by 9th century Persian Poet Rudaki. Rudaki. 1876. Ghazals. Iran: Lithograph Edition.

I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land–every color, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike — all snored in the same language.

Malcolm X

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019
Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: X, Malcolm & Alex Haley. 1992. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Random House Publishing. From Chapter 18, “El Hajj Malik El Shabaz.”

Recreation

Coming together
it is easier to work
after our bodies
meet
paper and pen
neither care nor profit
whether we write or not
but as your body moves
under my hands
charged and waiting
we cut the leash
you create me against your thighs
hilly with images
moving through our word countries
my body
writes into your flesh
the poem
you make of me.

Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat
I love you flesh into blossom
I made you
and take you made
into me.

Audre Lorde

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019
Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Lorde, Audre. 1970. Cables to Rage. London: Paul Breman Limited.

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019. Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Heinlein, Robert. 1950. The Man Who Sold the Moon. Chicago: Shasta Publishers.

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019. Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Burckhardt, Titus & Bulent Rauf. 2001. Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi. Fons Vitae.

The Lunar mansions according to Ibn ‘Arabi. The system is consciously relating creation itself with each Mansion embodying its own sound, related to the 28 sounds of spoken Arabic.

In 1970, Gil Scott-Heron released the song “Whitey on the Moon” from his album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. As a response to U.S. astronauts setting foot on the moon on July 21, 1969, Scott-Heron, whose poignant songs about personal loss and public failure would continue throughout his brilliant career, saw this national adventure as the epitome of hubris amid raging Black discontent and a brutal imperial war in Vietnam. He asked in song form, “A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon. Her face and arms began to swell and Whitey’s on the moon. . . . No hot water, no toilets, no lights but Whitey’s on the moon. . . . Was all that money I made last year for Whitey on the moon?”

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019. Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Daulatzai, Sohail. Black Star, Crescent Moon. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2012

Scott-Heron’s ironic yet biting commentary on white supremacy and national arrogance was emblematic of the larger criticisms of and challenges to U.S. power by Black activists domestically and Third World revolutionaries globally. In fact, though Scott-Heron’s critique of the moonwalk came a year after the event, cosmic forces almost seemed in order, for on that day of July 21, 1969, other monumental historical events were taking place as well. As the United States imagined possibility by looking to outer space while profoundly and criminally neglecting racial injustice and imperial power, Black radicals in the United States looked to not-so-faraway places, such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America, for hope and possibility. In fact, July 21, 1969, the very day that U.S. astronauts actually set foot on the moon, was also the first day of the landmark Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers, Algeria, where internationally recognized artists, writers, musicians, and revolutionaries from all over the African diaspora and the Third World gathered. And on that same twenty-first day of July 1969, thousands of miles from Algiers and many more miles from the moon, three thousand people gathered in Oakland, California, at the opening of the Black Panther Party conference “United against Fascism,” an assembly of activists who sought to forge an anti-imperialist front in the United States to challenge racist state violence both domestically and globally.

While the United States sought to conquer outer space and to expand its already broad dominion over the Americas, Africa, and Asia, U.S.-based Black activists, artists, writers, and others joined forces with like-minded radicals from throughout the Third World to challenge imperial power and to support national liberation struggles that the United States and Europe were hell-bent on destroying under the banner of the Cold War. Having just fought a successful but brutal anti-colonial war against the French that captured the hearts and minds of revolutionaries in both the Third World and the United States, Algeria became a flashpoint for revolutionary internationalism that connected Oakland to Algiers and Black peoples in the United States to the Third World. Chapter Two [pg. 45-46]

Thirty-six Views of the Moon (detail), 2019. Cyanotype exposed by moonlight on found book page. Book: Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 1916. Emerson’s Epigrams. London: George G Harrap.

In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends, but they are imprisoned by an enchanter in these papers and leather boxes; and though they know us, and have been waiting two, ten, or twenty centuries for us, — some of them, — and are eager to give us a sign, and unbosom themselves, it is the law of their limbo that they must not speak until spoken to.


Ala Ebtekar (b. 1978) is a visual artist who works primarily in painting, drawing, photography, and installation between his native San Francisco Bay Area and Tehran, Iran. Born to Iranian activist/artist parents, he developed an interest in various notions of in-betweenness, which has led him to explore the juncture between history, myth, and culture. Ebtekar’s works are included in the collections of BAMPFA, Berkeley; Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, India; de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among other institutions. He teaches in Stanford University’s Department of Art & Art History, Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, where he leads the Art, Social Space, and Public Discourse Initiative.

Poem by Omar Khayyam (top). Book: Khayyam, Omar. 1946. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Translated by Edward FitzGerald. New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

McEvoy Arts Picks: Exploratorium Cinema Arts

The Exploratorium’s Cinema Arts Department shares cross-disciplinary and inter-media recommendations for the latest installment of McEvoy Arts Picks.

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

This edition of McEvoy Arts Picks was finalized on May 21, 2020 before widespread protests against police brutality, systematic racism, and in defense of Black lives began. The Exploratorium Cinema Arts Department has approved the publication of these Picks with the acknowledgment that curators and institutions alike must continue to take responsibility for their roles in the amplification of artists’ voices.

In 2018, Kathleen Maguire and Samuel Sharkland co-curated the cross-disciplinary Screening Room program Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints in conjunction with No Time, an exhibition that explored human relationships to the natural world in the past, present, and future. Here, Maguire and Sharkland join with Liz Keim, their colleague at the Exploratorium Cinema Arts Program, to share recommendations for McEvoyArts Picks that explore how the presentation and experience of various mediums are influenced and transformed by the shelter-in-place vantage.


Cadavre Exquis from Physics Reimagined

“An exquisite corpse between scientists and creatives in time of confinement.” This visual epistolary was launched at the beginning of shelter-in-place as a rebuff to mandated distancing. Reminding us that connection and cross-collaboration is not only still possible, but also essential if we are to generate imaginative solutions when we don’t know what’s going to come next. 


https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBzcAuAFtEW/

“Remains to be Streamed” with Mark Toscano (@preservationinsanity)

The absence of communal cinema spaces, particularly those that are informal, community driven and delightfully chaotic, has been greatly felt. With his weekly Instagram live screenings, archivist and curator Mark Toscano crafts an experience that is comfortingly parallel to the real thing. Toscano’s living room becomes an inviting space from which he shares rare 16mm films and his deep knowledge of experimental cinema with eager viewers who flex their own erudition in the rolling comments.


You Must Remember This: Emergency Dispatch The 1918 Flu and the Movie Industry

Karina Longworth’s deep dives into classic Hollywood cinema are redolent of rich research, compelling social commentary and the right amount of gossip. In this recent dispatch about the 1918 Flu pandemic, a fascinating cinema-going history opens up a space to reflect on current circumstances and – as history tends toward repeating itself – an encouraging vision of a vibrant future.


The Sound We See: COVID Quarantine

Structured as a day with each hour captured in one minute by a different filmmaking team, this piece is the latest edition in Echo Park Film Center’s The Sound We See series. The series began in 2010 and is an ongoing international collaboration of community-made analog films celebrating contemporary urban (and not-so urban!) environments. This COVID edition is marked by its panopoly of diverse styles that, in their observation of how our worlds have become smaller, provide communal solace.


Otis at Monterey Pop

Captured by the forebears of cinema vérité at the beginning of the Summer of Love, this ecstatic performance of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” cuts through the decades with it’s ebullient grain. In this style, the filmmaker captures their surroundings as a live witness. So, we too, feel the soulful mourning of Otis Redding’s performance and experience the grief and anguish of an undefined loss. 


McEvoy Arts: What’s been most striking to you about the impact this moment is having on the making, presentation, and consumption of culture? How do you see it evolving in the weeks, months, and years to come?

Keim, Maguire, & Sharkland: Commonly, cinema is experienced alone and in the dark, with no tangible connection to other viewers. Yet, now that we are barred from gathering and audiences have scattered, the absence of those other viewers is painfully felt. Previously, the privilege of movement allowed audiences endless opportunities to move through manufactured arenas, venture out and take in cultural offerings for as long as they had the attention. This feeling of being short on time, but with endless horizons is now reversed. Now our space is limited and time feels to have slowed to an irrelevant pace; we are forced to intentionally schedule our engagements with culture as we yearn to find connection. Absent physical interaction, we are resensitized to culture and art as a conduit of shared experience, rather than a spectacle of consumption.

The modes and scales of culture are shifting to fit the time, as they will once more when this period is behind us. However, there will be no mistaking the earnest offerings and amateur efforts from all culture-makers from this era. Like the best experience of cinema, we now value anew the gift of the other and relish the feeling of being together, apart.


Liz Keim is the Director of Cinema Arts and Senior Curator at the Exploratorium. She founded the Cinema Arts Program and film collection in 1982, is published in Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theaters, a collection of literary essays on the city’s thriving cinema culture, and her film In the Red (co-directed by Karen Merchant) has screened internationally. On occasion Liz co-teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and the University of San Francisco; she has served on many local film juries, participates in symposiums nationwide, and has curated cinema programs internationally.

Kathleen Maguire is a media arts programmer at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Her work includes designing screenings for intergenerational audiences, working closely with artists to craft media-based performances, and curating media works for the Museum galleries. Recent projects include Light Play: Mechanical Entry Points, a multi-year engagement highlighting artists who explore light art through mechanical technologies and Field of View: Mapping Emerging Technologies, a series of temporal engagements examining cutting-edge use of immersive technologies in science and the arts. She was previously a part of the temporal programming group at the American Museum of Natural History and is a graduate of NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program.

Samuel Sharkland is a Bay Area film exhibitor and event producer focused on audience experience through interactive performance and direct engagement. He graduated with a BA in media studies from the University of San Francisco and expanded his interest in performing arts through celebrating cult cinema with Peaches Christ Productions (2004 – 2018) and honing visitor engagement while co-operating the Red Vic Movie House (2008 – 2012). He has worked as a part of Cinema Arts at the Exploratorium since 2008, gaining a deep appreciation for experimental film forms and site-based screenings. He curates short film programs, outdoor screenings, and expanded cinema performances.

McEvoy Arts Picks: Alison O’Daniel

Visual artist and filmmaker Alison O’Daniel highlights Lonnie Halley, Pedro Costa, and more in the latest installment of McEvoy Arts Picks.

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

Three short films from Alison O’Daniel’s ever-expanding media project The Tuba Thieves (2013–) were guest curated by Tanya Zimbardo in conjunction with the 2019 exhibition What is an edition, anyway?. Since the exhibition, O’Daniel has joined the faculty of the California College of the Arts and received the 2019 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. In this edition of McEvoy Arts Picks, the visual artist and filmmaker shares movies and music she has enjoyed while sheltering in place as well as some reflections on the culture industry during COVID-19.


Speed
Jan de Bont, 1994

This 1994 movie is bringing me joy. Watching this group of unsuspecting bus riders go through so much trauma in one day feels sort of quaint right now during this global pandemic.  I love watching films that took place pre-cell phones – I find it very soothing to watch people be disconnected and therefore more connected, not documenting, just living their fantastical, high action, dramatic lives. Also, I’ve been thinking through strategies for keeping an audience completely engaged from the minute a film starts to the minute it ends and watching something so over the top helps me brainstorm strategies for my quiet, slow, arty films.


The Films of Pedro Costa

The cinematography and lighting is heartbreakingly beautiful. The hybrid approach of documentary and fiction in his films is beautifully composed. And all of the actors are so tender and brutal. I’m afraid of them, afraid for them, and I love them.


The Music of Lonnie Holly

A friend introduced me to his music last year and I’m in love. His music holds so many emotions. It calms me and breaks me at the same time and I need to listen to something that lets me feel the devastation and despair while also soothing me.


McEvoy Arts: What’s been most striking to you about the impact this moment is having on the making, presentation, and consumption of culture? How do you see it evolving in the weeks, months, and years to come?

Alison O’Daniel: I’ve had a somewhat side-eye skeptical view of the cultural response to fill everything up with video and media work. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve loved being able to watch some things that were previously inaccessible, but I’ve also questioned the impulse to fill a void or be entrepreneurial. I think it is time to pause and reflect. I realize, like many people, that stopping feels healthy and necessary and attuned to the devastation that is happening right now. We have a collective opportunity to hold capitalism to the fire and honor what many people are experiencing first hand and the rest of us know is coming closer everyday. I don’t buy into the collective complaints about boredom. Now is the time to explore the value of slowing and to restructure and reimagine our values and our lives. I don’t mean to sound soap-boxy, but I’m crossing my fingers for more reflection and less reflexive responses.


Alison O’Daniel is a visual artist and filmmaker working across sound, narrative, sculpture, installation and performance. Her work has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Renaissance Society, Chicago; and Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France. Her film, The Tuba Thieves, has received support from Ford Foundation JustFilms; Creative Capital; Sundance; IFP; Points North; Field of Vision; and Chicken and Egg. She is a recipient of the SFFILM Rainin Grant for Filmmakers with Disabilities, a 2019 Louis Comfort Tiffany award and has received grants from Art Matters; the Rema Hort Mann Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation; the California Community Foundation; and Franklin Furnace Fund. She was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and writing on O’Daniel’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Artforum; The Los Angeles Times; BOMB; and ArtReview. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

McEvoy Arts Picks: Kevin Moore

Curator Kevin Moore shares some reading and watching recommendations from home in the latest installment of McEvoy Arts Picks.

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

In addition to helping build the McEvoy Family Collection and curating several exhibitions at McEvoy Arts, Kevin Moore is artistic director and curator of FotoFocus in Cincinnati, which plans to distribute the funds from its recently canceled 2020 edition as artist grants instead. In the latest installment of McEvoy Arts Picks, Moore shares some of his current cultural touchstones and thoughts on the health crisis’s impact on art from home in New York.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) by Milan Kundera and 1988 film by Philip Kaufman

The backdrop of an appallingly cruel political regime (the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia) incites all kinds of struggles and conflicts in the lives of the main characters, yet the section I fixate on mostly is the final chapter, when Tomas and Tereza retreat to the country and find contentment outside the crushing political circumstances.


The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004

We must find some sort of pleasure in imagining the worst—or maybe it’s instructive and contributes to a sense of preparedness. The Jewish family’s vacation to Washington, amidst a fictionalized fascist insurgence, is harrowing and upsetting for its sense of immediate probability.


Babylon Berlin
Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Hendrik Handloegten, 2017–present

This great German television series is like a primer for today’s political struggles, showing a previous generation of extremist factions on both the Left and the Right, spurred on by greedy capitalists and ex-military egos, duking it out in the streets, requiring the police and the journalists to try to maintain a reasonable, central order. The other great thing about the show—besides the acting, the costumes, the musical numbers—is the reminder of the abject suffering, caused by war, poverty, and all kinds of social discrimination people endured between the World Wars. We’ve no idea today.


The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard
New York: Penguin Random House, 2018

I’ve been rereading parts of this novella Nion [McEvoy] recommended a couple of years ago. It’s an improbably light-hearted, almost comical treatment of Hitler’s invasion of Austria in 1938, revealing both the corporate-industrialist backing and charismatic buffoonery that almost destroyed democracy that other time, not so long ago. It pairs nicely with Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth-Century, if you want a “lite” weekend crash course in fascist history.


Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler edited with text by Tom Eccles, Maja Hoffmann, Beatrix Ruf
Zürich: JRP|Ringier, 2016

Because I’m working on a show with Tony for 2022. This richly mysterious catalog, produced by the LUMA Foundation, features Tony’s vast and eccentric collection of vernacular photographs, including ephemera depicting the occult, fake mediums, spirits, UFOs, and other forms of irrational, pseudo-scientific (ultimately anti-scientific) imagery. We’re both struggling at the moment with how to position and talk about such work in an era of denigrated science and dangerous “mind control” of various kinds.


McEvoy Arts: What’s been most striking to you about the impact this moment is having on the making, presentation, and consumption of culture? How do you see it evolving in the weeks, months, and years to come?

Kevin Moore: After the mounting terror and frenzy of the past few years, it is in some ways a welcome relief to have just stopped everything. The sensation, at its most pleasurable, is a feeling of reconnection to self and earth, like one experiences during a relaxing vacation. Yet at its most uncomfortable, it’s an awareness of suspended animation, of being tossed up in the air and waiting to fall to earth. So I’ve been having some admittedly fractured and dark experiences with books and films, revisiting passages from old favorites and relying heavily on the example of history to orient myself in this new—though not so new—historical context.


Kevin Moore is a writer and curator based in New York. In addition to helping build the McEvoy Family Collection, he is the Artistic Director and Curator of FotoFocus, Cincinnati. Moore has curated exhibitions at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, including la mère la mer and True Blue Mirror: Ellen Berkenblit and Sarah Braman. Moore has produced numerous museum exhibitions and accompanying catalogs, most recently, Old Paris and Changing New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott (Taft Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2018), Mamma Andersson: Memory Banks (Contemporary Arts Center/Damiani, 2018), and “Emulsion Society,” in Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern (Museum of Modern Art, 2019).

McEvoy Arts Picks: Staff Watching

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

With all of us spending more time in front of our screens, this recommended list of what to watch compiled by the McEvoy Arts staff will help you make the most of your leisure hours.


Nion McEvoy, Founder & President

Woman in the Dunes
Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964

Hiroshi Teshigahara’s masterpiece bridges themes of existentialism and isolation with a Zen-like sense of being and composition.

Stop Making Sense
Jonathan Demme, 1984

The great Talking Heads early-eighties concert film, directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) features the brilliant nerdy art-rock band with Bernie Worrel of Parliament Funkadelic and other funky players. If you feel stuck in your home, “Naive Melody” will comfort you, and “Burning Down the House” will expand your horizons and set you free.


Nate Gellman, Communications Manager

Paris, Texas
Wim Wenders, 1984

(One of) the German auteur’s masterpieces is an American road movie of astonishingly intimate proportions that remains unparalleled in its romantic, nostalgic depiction of life in the small corners of the United States. It also features the greatest socially distanced conversation ever captured on celluloid. Come for Robby Müller’s haunting landscape cinematography and Sam Shepard’s sparse screenplay, stay for Ry Cooder’s iconic original score.

Beyond the Visible: Hilma Af Klimt
Halina Dyrschka, 2019

The Guggenheim’s 2019 exhibition Hilma Af Klimt: Paintings for the Future will go down as the exhibition I most regret not visiting in person during the last decade. At least I can experience this new documentary on the abstract pioneer as part of the Roxie Theater’s Virtual Cinema.


Amy Owen, Exhibitions and Public Programs Manager

Other Music
Puloma Basu, Rob Hatch-Miller, 2020

In these quarantine days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the intense grief and uncertainty that accompanied post-9/11 and the things that provided comfort and stability during that time. I moved to New York City to start a new job downtown a few short weeks before the attacks, and the record store Other Music, around the corner from my Broadway office, became a safe haven on lunch breaks and after hours in the weeks, months, and years that followed. I immensely enjoyed this love letter to a place that meant so much to so many people. I can’t wait for the time when we will have the solace of coming together again around music, art, and community. Until then, you can rent this gem online and 50% of your dollars will go to support your fave local record store or theater.

Light Industry
Experimental cinema online

Brooklyn-based Light Industry is screening a different film every week on their Patreon page where you can support this amazing independent venue for film and electronic art. Founded in 2008, the brilliant Thomas Beard and Ed Halter created a space (sometimes with no space at all) at the intersection of all forms of the moving image, merging the worlds of contemporary art, experimental cinema, and documentary filmmaking. At the heart of their work is an extreme care of how film, in its many alternative modes, is presented, discussed, and shared. They have blown my mind more than a few times over the years and taught me most of what I know about experimental film today. Please check out and support their program. You won’t regret it. 


rel robinson, Gallery Communications Assistant

The Souvenir
Joanna Hogg, 2019

Joanna Hogg started making experimental films with a Super 8 camera borrowed from Derek Jarman–a life-force of an artist who supported and informed the work of innumerable contemporary artists. This film features Tilda Swinton and her daughter, playing mother and daughter and tells the story of the earnestness of failure in first love and art-making. 

A Serious Man
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 2009

A dry and dark comedy that explores a variation on the Book of Job through the story of a possibly cursed physics professor in 1960s Minnesota and the assimilation of Jewish-American identities. 


Alex Spoto, Events & Operations Manager

Safe
Todd Haynes, 1995

“Are you allergic to the 20th Century?” Eerily full of parallels to the present, Safe probes the porous boundaries between individual and cultural affliction, featuring Julianne Moore grappling with a mysterious and chronic malady. Her brilliant performance somaticizes the heavy anxiety lurking beneath a dazzling 1980s Los Angeles, and the film maintains an ambiguous and unsettling tension all the way to self quarantine. Reviewed here in The New Yorker.


From the McEvoy Arts Archives

Strange Culture
Lynn Hershman Leeson, 2007

Lynn Hershman Leeson’s genre-bending film tells the bizarre true story of how professor and artist Steve Kurtz’s personal tragedy turns into persecution by a paranoid and overzealous government, echoing strains of uncertainty and discord in society’s current moment. Streaming through Sunday, May 3 in partnership with the Roxie Theater.

Koyaanisqatsi
Godfrey Reggio, 1982

Drawing its title from the Hopi word meaning “life out of balance,” this renowned documentary reveals how humanity has grown apart from nature. Featuring extensive footage of natural landscapes and elemental forces set to a score by Philip Glass, the film ultimately gives way to many scenes of modern civilization and technology.

Stalker
Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979

One of the most immersive and rarefied experiences in the history of cinema, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) embarks on a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic post-apocalyptic landscape. At once a religious allegory, a reflection of contemporary political anxieties, and a meditation on film itself, Stalker envelops the viewer by opening up a multitude of possible meanings.

McEvoy Arts Picks: Staff Reading

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more are featured in this recommended reading list for those long quarantine days, compiled by the McEvoy Arts staff.


Nate Gellman, Communications Manager

The Overstory by Richard Powers
New York: W.W. Norton, 2019

Richard Powers’ towering, sprawling modern fable is well suited to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week and has an uncanny ability to put things in perspective. If you want to change how you see your surroundings the next time you take your daily quarantine walk, this book will do it.

Der Klang der Familie: Berlin, Techno, and the Fall of the Wall by Felix Denk , Sven von Thülen
Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2014

This exhaustive oral history of the evolution of house and techno music in Germany is a timely reminder of how art and music can flourish when borders are open and cultural exchange is encouraged. Read it and dance.


Amy Owen, Exhibitions and Public Programs Manager

The English peasants’ revolt of 1381. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

‘The impossible has already happened’: what coronavirus can teach us about hope by Rebecca Solnit
The Guardian, April 7, 2020

Rebecca Solnit’s recent piece for the Guardian builds on tenets of her essential Hope in the Dark (2004) by bringing the transformative power of dark times to the fore once more.

John Giorno by Sebastian Kim for Interview magazine

Everyone Gets Lighter by John Giorno

The late John Giorno’s deep Buddhist beliefs allowed him to find joy in lived experience while embracing the inevitable presence of suffering that underscores all aspects of life. This, my favorite of his poems, continues to bring light, levity, and perspective to these bleak days. 


rel robinson, Gallery Communications Assistant

The Outline Trilogy by Rachel Cusk
London: Picador, 2016

Cusk’s prose is like a loose thread that keeps snagging until it’s unraveled to the point of obliteration.

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair 
New York: Penguin, 2017

This reads like a collection of short stories and soothes an anxious psyche by illuminating endearing mysteries in the most familiar of things.


Alex Spoto, Events & Operations Manager

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit
New York: Penguin, 2010

For those seeking a shred of optimism, Solnit riffs on Kropotkin’s theory of “mutual aid” to illuminate positive (and sometimes utopian!) social practice in response to disaster. Bay Area locals will enjoy the deep dive on accounts from the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake!

How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
New York: Riverhead, 2020

This debut novel by San Francisco based author C Pam Zhang follows two recently orphaned siblings, children of Chinese immigrants in the time of the American gold rush, on an epic quest to bury their dead and find freedom. 


More to Read

la mère la mer, introduction by Nion McEvoy; text by Kevin Moore
San Francisco: McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, 2019

If you were able to purchase a copy of our inaugural exhibition’s catalog before our galleries closed, its presentation of McEvoy Family Collection works about family and the sea can transport you beyond the confines of your home during these times.

ZYZZYVA No. 118 edited by Laura Cogan
San Francisco: ZYZZYVA, 2020

San Francisco-based literary journal ZYZZYVA has just published their 35th-anniversary issue. The magazine’s strong selections in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are perfect for weekend reading.

Aperture #235: Orlando edited by Tilda Swinton, Michael Famighetti
New York: Aperture, 2019

Our exhibition may be temporarily closed, but Aperture’s Summer 2019 issue, guest edited by Tilda Swinton, offers a rich collage of writings, images, and interviews related to the exhibition and Woolf’s novel.

McEvoy Arts Picks: Staff Listening

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

Following up on last week’s playlist for the socially distanced by Nion McEvoy, McEvoy Arts Picks returns with another selection of tunes to ease into your weekend at home, this time with music from Kraftwerk, John Lennon, Mavis Staples, Animal Collective, The Byrds, David Byrne, and more compiled by the McEvoy Arts staff.

McEvoy Arts Picks: Nion McEvoy’s “Life’s Been Good” Playlist

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

To kick things off, Nion McEvoy, Founder & President, turns in a socially distanced playlist to start your weekend staying in, featuring music from the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, and the late John Prine.