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"Afterall" presents "Making Strange"--Rare Sci-Fi and Cult Films under the stars in Downtown Los Angeles

To celebrate the launch of its 18th issue, the contemporary art journal Afterall presents Making Strange. This three-week rooftop series of Sci-Fi inspired films and artists’ videos will be screened atop the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in Downtown Los Angeles from August 14th through the 28th. In this season of special effects-laden blockbusters, the series presents low-fi cult features and artists’ videos using science fiction to illuminate earthly struggles and everyday phenomena. The title, Making Strange, refers to the artistic concept of ostranenie, or defamiliarization, through which unremarkably common occurrences are made to appear unknown or strange. In these works, outer space appears as a metaphor for psychological inner space; post-apocalyptic futures and interplanetary utopias are imagined through the quotidian lens of social progress; and android life reflects human dysfunction on Earth.

Afterall is co-published by California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles, and Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, London. 

All screenings are free and begin at dusk.  Blankets or pillows are encouraged, as seating will be limited.

The full schedule follows below: 

Thursday, August 14

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972, 163 min)

Preceded by Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten (1977, 9 min.)

Based on the science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem, Solaris is a brilliantly original science fiction epic that challenges preconceived notions of love, truth and humanity itself.  When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is sent to investigate odd transmissions from the Solaris space station, he experiences the strange phenomena that afflict the crew and embarks on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his own consciousness.

In just nine minutes, Powers of Ten, the landmark film by Charles and Ray Eames, takes viewers on a voyage from a picnic in Chicago to the farthest edges of the Universe--zooming out to cover ten times as much space every ten seconds. The camera then zooms in, returning to the picnicker and narrowing in on his hand by powers of ten until it focuses on a tiny quark within one of his cells.


Thursday, August 21

Kuchar Bros. Double Feature!

George Kuchar’s Ascension of the Demonoids (1985, 46 min.)

Mike Kuchar’s Sins of the Fleshapoids (1965, 43 min.)

Preceded by Joan Jonas’s Double Lunar Dogs (1984, 24 min.)

“When the day arrives--and it will-- to appoint an official United States cultural ambassador to Outer Space, Mr. Kuchar is the obvious choice.” – Holland Cotter, The New York Times

The Kuchar Brothers, George and Mike, were the godfathers of bargain basement cinema, pioneering a hilariously campy, lurid style between Ed Wood exploitation and Douglas Sirk melodrama.  George’s Ascension of the Demonoids concludes a six-part UFO series more concerned with portraying the psychic effects UFOs had on people, particularly on their libidos, than with the overworked science-fiction images of UFOS delivering mass destruction. "I wanted to look away from the subject," George said in a 1988 interview, "In fact, (the movie) completely drops the subject, basically ... goes to Hawaii and examines the scenery, forgetting about what had previously happened or what the picture was about. That was my intention. I wanted to get off the subject."

Mike’s Sins of the Fleshapoids remains one of the most influential films of the 60’s American Underground. Set a million years in the future, after “The Great War” has scourged the planet, mankind has forsaken science for self-indulgence in all the carnal pleasures afforded by art, food, and lust. Work is left to a race of enslaved androids, but one rebellious male robot tires of pampering his lazy masters and joins the humans in sin.

Double Lunar Dogs, based on Robert Heinlein's 1941 science-fiction story "Universe," presents a vision of post-apocalyptic survival aboard a spacecraft, traveling aimlessly through the universe, whose passengers no longer remember their mission. The two main characters (portrayed by Jonas and Spalding Gray) play games with images of earlier times. However, efforts to restore their collective memories are futile and they are reprimanded by the "Authority" for their attempts to recapture their past. The film features a stellar group of avant-garde actors, video artists and musicians including Spalding Gray and The Residents.


Thursday, August 28

John Coney’s Space is the Place (1974, 82 min.)

*Preceded by other short films TBD

Created as homage to the low-budget science fiction films of the 50’s and 60’s, Space is the Place became a visual embodiment of Sun Ra's Afro-Egyptian myth of salvation in outer space. Traveling through space in his music-powered spaceship, Sun Ra finds a planet he believes could serve as a new home for the black race and returns to earth (Oakland, California circa 1972) to offer an "alter-destiny" to those who would join him. As cosmic blaxploitation-cum-sociological critique, Space is the Place is at once a platform for Sun Ra's radical racial philosophies, an indictment of the government's policies in Vietnam-era U.S., and a concert film with an otherworldly score and performances by the Intergalactic Solar Arkestra, one of the most innovative and profound groups in jazz history.

Making Strange is made possible with the generous support of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, Los Angeles, with additional support from the Eames Office, LLC.

Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites

Afterall is a nonprofit journal of contemporary art co-published by California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles, and Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, London.  Afterall 18 features essays on the work of Cameron Jamie, William Pope.L, Sturtevant, and Javier Tellez. For more info: www.afterall.org.

The nation's first art institute to offer BFAs and MFAs in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts is dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists, fostering excellence and innovation within the broadest context possible. Emphasis is placed on new and experimental work, and students are admitted solely on the basis of artistic ability. To help facilitate innovation and experimentation, CalArts' six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--are all housed under one roof in a unique, five-story building with the equivalent of 11 acres of square footage in Valencia, California, just 30 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.

Last edited by Smith on Aug 25, 2010
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