'Two Films On Photography' Plus Live Reading At MOPA
Filmmaker Wolfgang Hastert looks to the life and art of image makers
The Museum of Photographic Arts hosts a night of experimental film and performance as Wolfgang Hastert presents Two Films On Photography, an event screening and voice performance on Nov. 18.
Filmmaker Wolfgang Hastert juxtaposes the diverse work of two unique image-makers in a pair of films he has created. In “The Queer Reveries of James Bidgood,” Hastert identifies the anonymous director “Pink Narcissus” and examines the kitschy style of the 1971 gay art-house film. The documentary follows Bidgood around New York and interviews people about the once “ anonymous” director and his film.
Then in “Another Stranger with a Film Camera,” he analyzes the work of still photographer Shelby Lee Adams who works in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky where he maintains close ties.
“It’s been my interest to show the life and the products of image makers,” Hastert said. “It’s always been interesting to me and I would love it if audiences would walk away and have more appreciation for A, the still image, and B, the moving image.”
In “Another Stranger…” Hastert works in parallel with Adams as the still photographer sets up portraits of people in the Appalachian Mountains.
“It’s fascinating for me to try to figure out and kind of like walk in the footsteps of other image-makers and what is interesting is when I look at other image makers it’s kind of like I try to figure out where do they go with their mind and how do they tell stories and it’s very interesting,” Hastert said.
“In the case of Shelby Lee Adams, it was an interesting adventure being in Kentucky, working with him, finding the locations, working with the subjects," Hastert said. "Of course it was also strange and problematic because he’s not an easy person to be around and he also tried to protect his locations and his people and I came in with my cameras and shooting parallel and then there was a kind of battle with the cinematographer and still photographer.
"I saw more than he probably wanted me to see, I recorded more than he probably wanted me to see, and I in the end probably show more than what is probably comfortable for him,” Hastert said.
Hastert said there is a difference between what the still image and the moving image can do: “We start talking about the philosophy of images and what always strikes me is that photography is kind of like a thing of the past. It’s always like you take a picture and that moment already has been gone. Whereas the moving images of cinematography are in a way kind of like telling a story in front of you while you are watching it. There’s a very lively aspect to cinema and there’s kind of like a melancholic aspect to still photography.”
Adding a live aspect to the evening will be readings from the work of James Agee, Trinh T. Min-Ha, and Thomas Wolfe. Performers for what Hastert refers to as “documentary voices” are Beth Gallagher and Dale Morris.
“The readings are inspired and are actually excerpts from James Agee’s book ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.’ James Agee and [photographer] Walker Evans set out in the 1930s to write about the tenement farmers in Alabama so the photography and also the writing in this book are admired by many documentary filmmakers and writers because it set a standard of how to approach writing about factual things,” Hastert said. “So I use excerpts from that book but I also combine it with excerpts from Thomas Wolfe, which describe the soul of the Southerner and there are also a couple of smaller excerpts from Trinh T. Min-Ha.”Hearing Dale Morris speak certain words by James Agee, it’s very poetic. The writing in ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’ couldn’t be more beautiful writing.”
Two Films on Photography begins at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.