Nov. 16th – David Sherman’s WASTELAND UTOPIAS

Wasteland Utopias 2

November 16th, 2013
@ Farewell Books (map)

Experimental Response Cinema and Farewell Books are very excited to present a screening of Wasteland Utopias with filmmaker David Sherman in person! Wasteland Utopias is a cinematic essay featuring visionary developer Del Webb (Sun City) and legendary radical psychiatrist/naturalist Wilhelm Reich (Orgone Energy). What on earth could these two possibly have in common? The sunny Sonoran Desert for one thing, a shadowy CIA Operative for another. Desert landscapes, desert soulscapes, sex, sustainability, Emotional Plague, cloudbusting, water retention, cosmic intervention—these and other relevancies link the 1950s with our present moment in surprising, and seemingly prophetic, ways.


Farewell Books, founded in February 2013 and run by Travis Kent & Mikaylah Bowman, is a progressive new and used bookshop and art gallery in the city of Austin, Texas.


Wasteland Utopias by David Sherman
91 min / digital / sound / 2010
Wasteland Utopias explores the intersection of two radically different utopian thinkers: mega-developer Del Webb and outsider psychiatrist/naturalist Wilhelm Reich. Each found his way into southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert in the late 1950s—Webb building his colossal, panoptically-planned retirement community Sun City and Reich conducting his weather manipulation experiments using Orgone Energy. This unlikely pairing provokes a hallucinatory, magic-conceptualist examination of the disintegrating fabric that connects man with nature, evoking questions about both ecological and social sustainability. Using found footage, documentary interviews, and narrative tableaux, the film interweaves contradictory narratives and critically poetic observations. By juxtaposing these two thinkers—who represent ostensibly opposing visions of a still-undefined future—Sherman asks viewers to consider a multiplicity of perspectives on our endangered natural and social environments.

“Wasteland Utopias is a remarkable cocktail of personal narratives that explores unlikely coincidences of people and places in a wilderness paradoxically threatened by civilization. Its medium is an enriching part of its message, making it as challenging as it is gripping.”-David Canter (Award winning author of The Psychology of Place and distinguished environmental psychologist.)

Selected Screenings:

Ann Arbor Film Festival, MI.; Chicago Underground Film Festival, IL; Artova Kino, Helsinki, Finland; Western Literature Association Conference, University of Texas, Lubbock; European Media Arts Festival, Osnabruck, Germany; Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick, Scotland, UK; Globians Doc Fest, Berlin, Germany; Squeaky Wheel*, Buffalo, NY; Hampshire College, Amherst, MA; Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; MassArt Film Society*, Boston, MA; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson AZ; Grand Detour, Portland, OR; Union Docs, Brooklyn NY


David Sherman was born in the Sonoran Desert. Early on, the desert’s ecstatic qualities of light and temporality informed his vision. Drawn to experimental cinema through his studies in philosophy at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, Sherman relocated to the West Coast where he enmeshed himself in the rich film culture of the Bay Area. Inspired by discarded 16mm films populating the dumpsters at the time, Sherman began to incorporate found images into his filmmaking. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1997, the same year his film, Tuning the Sleeping Machine, was included in the Whitney Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Sherman’s work focuses on the perceptual underpinnings of moving image media; his appropriation and collage based experimental films construct hidden histories through the radical play of form and material. Through digital manipulation, cast-off films are reinvented into maze like tapestries of subconscious desire and distress. His work recently screened at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival and national and international venues including Image Forum, Tokyo; LUX Center, London; Musée National D’Art, Paris. Recent exhibitions include Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945–2000 at the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California (2010).

He is one half of the artist collaboration known as Total Mobile Home. Recognized as founding the world’s first microcinema in San Francisco in 1993. Total Mobile Home has continued a practice of producing expanded-cinema performance and installations art. In 2004 they were artists in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California where they produced film based sculptural, sound and projected works. Sherman was Administrative Director of Canyon Cinema from 1989-2001 and was an Adjunct Professor of Media Arts at California College of the Arts from 1997-2004. He currently resides in Tucson, AZ., where co-directs EXPLODED VIEW Microcinema.