April 16th – Focus Group: The Screening Room with Robert Breer

Join us for our third outing with the Visual Art Center’s series devoted to Robert Gardner’s The Screening Room. In this screening, the Visual Arts Center will be showing Gardner’s interview with legendary filmmaker Robert Breer, with a number of his films. Preceding the interview, ERC co-programmer Ekrem Serdar will do a short presentation on Breer’s films and screen five of them on 16mm.

Ekrem Serdar is a filmmaker / programmer from Ankara, Turkey. He completed his M.F.A at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and likes screening at Rustbelt Books, in Buffalo, NY. He frequently shows his work with the Küçük Sinemalar group, based in Istanbul.

Event Details:

April 16th, 2013
Visual Arts Center (map)
Auditorium , Room 1.102


Gulls & Buoys
7.5min / 16mm / sound / 1972
“In GULLS & BUOYS a large number of Breer’s ideas are compressed and crystallized into a short statement of great richness. It could function excellently as an introduction to the remarkable range of pleasures available from the films of Robert Breer.” – Scott Hammen, Afterimage

5min / 16mm / sound / 1968
“It’s so absolutely beautiful, so perfect, so like nothing else. Forms, geometry, lines, movements, light, very basic, very pure, very surprising, very subtle.” – Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice
“A dream of Euclid.” – Donald Richie
Awards: NY Film Festival; London Film Festival; Tours Film Festival; Oberhausen Film Festival.

9.5min / 16mm / sound / 1978
“[A] French gendarme weaves a hapless path through the film’s strobe attacks, disparate drawing styles, and variable scale …. Framed by underwater and travel imagery, the central section’s faucets and aerosols, collapsing tents and outsized croquet games, breakfast foods and sexual violence, all suggest domestic frustration.” – J. Hoberman,The Village Voice
Exhibition: NY Film Festival, 1979; Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1979.

10min / 16mm / sound / 1986
“BANG reveals Breer at his most accomplished and most playful. It is also his most autobiographical film – the youngster paddling a boat is Breer as a boy and the pencil cartoon sequences were drawn by Breer when he was around ten years old.
“Robert Breer is the godfather of animation art. In BANG he sustains ten dense minutes of collagistic mayhem that’s as potent as anything he’s ever done. Television images of a boy paddling a boat and an arena crowd cheering, plus film shots of bright pink and red flowers and a toy phone, are intercut with frenetic drawings in Breer’s trademark heavy crayon, principally of baseball games. Breer inserts a photo of himself with a question mark scrawled over his head, accompanied by the words ‘Don’t be smart.’ But he can’t help it – he is.” – Katherine Dieckmann, The Village Voice
“Robert Breer’s style is akin to musical composition. His films begin by presenting various elements – a dog, a house, a telephone – upon which he will later expand. The films seem to be variations on the themes of certain objects or words or gestures, variations that grow and build, becoming ever more complex.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

5 min / 16mm / sound / 2000
A short film dedicated to his little daughter that demonstrates all the characteristic traits of Breer’s animation, his humour, his favourite motifs (the hammer, a frog, graphic shapes, aeroplanes). What is the impact of an order such as the alphabet on the awakening mind of a child?

More from the VAC webpage:

Focus Group is a screening series centered on experimental film in its various formats, including but not limited to 16mm, 8mm, and digital video. Focusing on seminal filmmakers from the past and their contemporary counterparts, the screenings are introduced by artists, filmmakers, critics, and curators who additionally present discussion topics ranging from innovative approaches to the medium to issues in contemporary film culture. Through this exposure to unique and often rare films, as well as the critical dialogue surrounding them, Focus Group enables a broader understanding of the possibilities of cinema.

Screening Room, a 1970s television series that aired in Boston, invited independent filmmakers to screen and discuss their work on a commercial affiliate station (ABC-TV). The unique program, developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, gave equal exposure to animation, documentary, and experimental film by artists such as Jean Rouch, Jonas Mekas, Hollis Frampton, Yvonne Rainer, and Michael Snow. Each episode featured conversations with filmmakers about their work, as well as excerpts, and often full-length films. The filmmakers that were presented on the show are now considered among the most influential contributors to their respective genres. Produced and released by Studio7Arts, an organization founded by Robert Gardner to support nonfiction media, the rarely seen Screening Room episodes are still invaluable today to creative thinkers, regardless of what medium they work in.

This spring, as part of the newly branded series, Focus Group, the VAC presents a different episode of Screening Room each month, providing a wide range of anecdotes, explanations, and methodologies from pioneers in film. Videos and films hand-picked by members of Experimental Response Cinema precede each screening.

For April’s edition, the VAC presents the November 1976 episode of Screening Room with Robert Breer, an animator well known for his films exploring shape, color, perspective, and motion. His work exhibits innovative graphic and dramatic method of interpretation, as well as great wit and humor. An inspiration to generations of other filmmakers, Breer’s prolific career as a painter, sculptor, and filmmaker began in Paris in 1950. After studying engineering at Stanford University, his interests shifted to the mechanics of film and motion, and he experimented with flipbooks and made famous a process in which he drew on 4×6 index cards and animated those drawings with the use of a camera. Breer’s playful and humorous films capture aspects of Beat poetry and music in its fragmented collage aesthetic. In this episode of Screening Room, Breer screens and discusses the films RecreationA Man and His Dog Out for Air69Gulls and BuoysFuji, and Rubber Cement.

Special thanks to The University of Texas at Austin Fine Arts Library and its staff for supporting the educational mission of the Visual Arts Center through acquisitions of works like Screening Room.

The Visual Arts Center (VAC) is positioned as a place for the intersection of art education and art evolution. The center is a new exhibition and research space within the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin that will highlight internationally acclaimed artists, as well as students, faculty, and alumni through multiple programs. An adaptive reuse of the space in the Art Building previously inhabited by the Jack S. Blanton Museum, the VAC was designed by renowned architects Lake | Flato and provides an additional 22,000 square feet of space to the department.

The Visual Arts Center draws together a uniquely diverse arts community of students, alumni, faculty, guest artists and creative voices from around the world. This beautiful facility — with its airy hall, collegial gathering space and inspiring art exhibits — forms the new intellectual and emotional center of this dynamic community.