|His wife was the posterchild (literally) for the Semina movement|
Back in the day, when dinasaurs romaed the earth I had a gig at the Washington Square News as a staff writer. So I'm doing what I do every morning and lookin up birthdays/anniversaries and it turns out that it's one of my favorite influences' birthday; Wallace Berman, more of an artist than a filmmaker, his 'Semina' movement was quite unique. Anyway, I tried to find that article that I wrote when his films cames to The Anthology Film Archives back in 2007 and I went to review it, in the archives of the news paper, but notices that I had saved it as a word document on my computer just in case I might every need it for anything...like this. So here it is:
|Berman at home with hi children.|
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Berman art at home at Anthology
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Published: Thursday, February 8, 2007
Updated: Saturday, September 6, 2008
Ginsberg, Kerouac and Cassady - it's difficult to disregard the artistic legacy left by the Beat Generation.
Although those names are associated primarily with the New York Beats, an autonomous beat community also existed in Los Angeles: Photographer, filmmaker and poet Wallace Berman was a key figure. In conjunction with NYU's Grey Art Gallery and the exhibition "Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle,"
Anthology Film Archives is running "Semina Cinema," a series devoted to Berman and his contemporaries.
Like most films of the Anthology, the series contains rarities and treasures of the avant-garde movement that are unlikely to appear anywhere else. Works by counterculture figures such as Bruce Conner, Stan Brakhage,
Andy Warhol and Taylor Mead provide a window into the times and art of a complex bohemian movement.
Berman himself, though famous for his photography and collages, had a strong connection with the avantgarde film movement of the '50s and '60s.
Andrew Lampert, film archivist for the Anthology and programmer for this series, calls Berman a "causal link" between the different mediums utilized in the movement. The series becomes a link in itself between
Berman and his contributions to filmmaking - his only film, "Aleph," is the centerpiece of the series. It's accompanied by a collection of 28 minutes of lost footage that didn't make it into the film, brought in by his son and appropriately titled "Artifactual: Films from the Wallace Berman Collection."
Never officially released, Berman would run this footage for friends, projecting it on his refrigerator. Screening exclusively tonight for the premiere, a new negative of "Aleph" will be accompanied by a live performance from prolific jazz composer John Zorn and his band. Friday, prominent beat artist and "Warhol superstar"
Taylor Mead will introduce the companion pieces "My Home Movies," shot by Taylor, and the film "Tarzan
and Jane Regained ... Sort Of." If you're looking to try to fathom Warhol, this series is a great way to start.
Every generation needs to reflect on its predecessors. And for a generation lacking an artistic renaissance, this series should be a revelation. Berman remains one of the most important figures not only in the L.A.-based beat community, but also in the history of counterculture. Aside from his art, he founded Semina (literally
"Outsider Art"), a privately run publication he headed to generate interest in his and his contemporaries' art.
|Still from one of his films called 'Her', yes there is another film by that name. And it's better.|
An artist's artist, Berman worked outside the marketplace, considering art a personal pursuit rather than a business - an ideal Lampert claims has faded in today's culture.
"He provided a social, artistic and literary space in California for these innovative and unusual people to meet each other, to mingle with experimental artists from elsewhere and to express ideas not common in America during those years," said Shelley Rice, a Tisch photography professor. In addition to his photography, Berman pioneered collaging, which became the essence of the art Warhol would later popularize. As part of Semina culture, Berman's work should fit in perfectly at the Anthology.
"It makes sense to have it here," Lampert said of Berman's place in the series. "It's about time." • Starts today and ends Sunday at Anthology Film Archives. Live musical accompaniment by John Zorn tonight at 8 p.m.; Taylor Mead introduces his films at Friday's program, also at 8 p.m.