September 2014 Film + Performance Art Exhibitions
Museum of Modern Art
September 2014



MoMA Presents: Sidney Lanfield’s Hat Check Girl
September 1–7
In 2013 MoMA collaborated with Twentieth Century-Fox to preserve what may have been the only extant 35mm nitrate print of Hat Check Girl (1932). Long unseen by moviegoers, the film made a triumphant return, in a new 35mm print, at Turner Classic Movies’ Classic Film Festival in April 2014. The audacious pre-code romantic comedy is set in a smart Manhattan nightclub where the good, the bad, and the ugly congregate for music, bootleg champagne, and scantily dressed showgirls. Sidney Lanfield’s Hat Check Girl was produced during the Prohibition era, but prior to the establishment of the 1934 Motion Picture Production Code. The Code administrators policed films to insure they did not include objectionable content—ridiculing the clergy, the excessive use of firearms, overt sexuality and nudity, etc. Hat Check Girl depicts a world of bootleggers, crooked politicians, cheating husbands, and women who find frequent excuses to strip down to their teddies.


MoMA Presents: Marcelo Gomes’s Once Upon a Time Veronica
September 8–14
A finely tuned, emotionally raw portrait of a woman’s conflicted entry into adulthood, Once Upon a Time Veronica is a thoroughly modern anti–fairy tale. Director Marcelo Gomes shows a rare ability to get under the skin—and cut close to the bone—of his emotionally vulnerable but resilient main character. Anchored by a tour de force performance from the fearless Hermila Guedes, this sensual, psychologically complex character study charts the personal and professional growth of one young woman in Recife.


Modern Mondays: An Evening with Christopher Williams
September 15
In conjunction with his retrospective exhibition, Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness, the artist joins Stuart Comer, MoMA’s Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art, for a discussion of Williams’s longstanding engagement with cinema. The conversation will touch upon Williams’s Carte Blanche screening series. Williams will also discuss and screen his own Super-8 films, made in 1979 while he was a student at CalArts. The evening will be introduced by Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator, Department of Photography, and curator of the exhibition.

Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness 
Tuesday, September 16, 6:00 p.m.
The Celeste Bartos Theater, mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building

Held in conjunction with the exhibition Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness—the first retrospective ever in the US mounted of the artist—a series of scholarly presentations and creative disruptions address issues in Williams’s work from its engagement with the history of early 20th century avant-garde photography and film, epic dramaturgy, the society of the spectacle, and installation as a medium. Participants include Devin Fore, Associate Professor of German, Princeton University; Julia Robinson, Assistant Professor Department of Art History, New York University; R.H. Quaytman, artist; John Kelsey, artist and art critic; John Miller, artist and Professor of Professional Practice, Department of Art History, Visual Arts Concentration, Barnard College/Columbia University, and Jeff Wall, artist. Moderated by Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator, Department of Photography and organizer of the exhibition.

Discovering Georgian Cinema, Part I: A Family Affair
September 23–October 16
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive joins forces with The Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Film to present the largest-ever U.S. retrospective of Georgian cinema. This passion project brings together 45 programs—in prints sourced from multiple archives throughout Europe, the U.S., and the republics of Georgia and Russia—encompassing the history of Georgian film production from 1907 to 2014. The exhibition traces the development of Georgian cinema from classics of the silent era to great achievements of the early sound and Soviet era, through the flourishing 1980s and the post-Soviet period to today.

Part I of the retrospective focuses on one of the particularities of the Georgian cinema: the remarkable lines of familial relationships that weave through and connect its cinematic production from the 1920s to the present, where we find several third-generation filmmakers active. Part II, Blue Mountains and Beyond, runs November 22 through December 21, 2014.


Gaumont Presents: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Silence of the Sea
September 29
Each fall at MoMA, Gaumont presents a title from its archives in France. This year, Gaumont’s President of the Board, Nicolas Seydoux, and CEO, Sidonie Dumas, introduce Jean-Pierre Melville’s first feature,Silence de la mer (Silence of the Sea), adapted from the famed French Resistance novella. In wartime France, an idealistic German lieutenant makes nightly visits to the inhabitants of the house where he is billeted, offering monologues on arts and letters and the greatness of the Franco-German union to come. The Frenchman and his niece remain mute in stoic resistance; Melville uses the cinematic devices that characterize his noir films to viscerally express their silence as a matter of survival. Yet Melville also portrays the lieutenant’s disillusionment in the face of the reality of the Nazi campaign with humanity, recognizing the devastation of men from any nation amid the folly of war.

Carte Blanche: Christopher Williams
Through September 21
The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy
Through September 21
An Auteurist History of Film
Closes August 29




James Lee Byars: Performances
August 17 and September 7
Various locations and times

The Department of Media and Performance Art, in collaboration with MoMA PS1, is pleased to present several of James Lee Byars’s most influential performance works. Byars (Detroit, 1932–Cairo, 1997), one of the most mythic artistic figures of the last century, shaped his persona and career into a continuous performance. Transfixed by the idea of perfection, Byars produced a remarkable body of work—including sculptures, fabric costumes, “performable” paper pieces, film, ink paintings, correspondence, ephemera, and live performances—that strove to give form to his search for beauty and truth. Pursuing what he called “the first totally interrogative philosophy,” he attempted to delineate the limits of our knowledge while enacting a desire for something more. In conjunction with the exhibition James Lee Byars: 1/2 an Autobiography, on view at MoMA PS1 through September 7, 2014, this series of performances will take place at MoMA, referencing Byars’s early history with the Museum.


Trajal Harrell. In one step are a thousand animals: The Practice 
September 4–September 5, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; 1:00–3:00 p.m.;3:30–5:30 p.m.
The Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Gallery, fourth floor

One of the most prominent choreographers and performers of his generation, Trajal Harrell (American, b. 1973) questions the essence of contemporary dance by problematizing its history, gestures, and interpretation. In one step are a thousand animals, Harrell’s two-year Annenberg Research Commission Residency project and part of the Department of Media and Performance Art’s Performance Program, continues this line of inquiry. After concluding his long-term project Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, Harrell shifted his focus to a different dance history, that of Japanese butoh. The more Harrell learned about butoh—a form developed in reaction to the conservatism permeating postwar Japanese dance—the more interested he became in the life and work of its founder, pioneering choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata (Japanese, 1928–1986). In one step are a thousand animals delves deeper into Hijikata’s persona, and of the aesthetic possibilities of butoh. In one step are a thousand animals begins in September with The Practice, in which Harrell will offer insights into his working methods, inviting participation from internationally renowned musicians, composers, DJs, singers, and dancers. The working process will be visible to spectators over two days in six two-hour sessions.


Charles Gaines: Manifestos 2 
The Roy and Niuta Titus 1 Theater

MoMA is pleased to premiere the live performance of Charles Gaines’sManifestos 2 (2013), in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem. A pioneer of Conceptual art, the Los Angeles-based artist has worked with composer Sean Griffin to translate language from four influential speeches or manifestos into musical notation: Malcolm X’s last public speech, made in 1965 in Detroit’s Ford Auditorium; Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (1999), by Canadian Mohawk scholar and activist Taiaiake Alfred; “Indocumentalismo Manifesto—an Emerging Socio-Political Ideological Identity” (2010), by Raúl Alcaraz and Daniel Carrillo; and the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, written by French activist and writer Olympe De Gouges in 1791. Using an arbitrary rule-based system translating each letter into its corresponding musical note (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and treating each letter without a correlating note as a silent musical rest, Gaines has established a relationship between the structures of language and music; Manifestos 2 explores how the emotive properties of music affect the content of the manifestos and their interpretation.

For the performance, Griffin will conduct a nine-piece ensemble, bringing the scores to life. The performance is followed by a conversation with Gaines and Griffin; Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art; and Naima J. Keith, Assistant Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem.

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