Art on Screen

In this continuing series, Block Cinema presents three new documentaries about visual art. The much talked-about new release Marwencol explores the fascinating world of outsider artist Mark Hogancamp; Secret Museums uncovers hidden collections of erotic art at major museums around the world, including the Vatican; and the award-winning Waste Land tells the inspirational story of contemporary artist Vik Muniz’s work with an underprivileged community in Brazil.

To complement the Block Museum’s spring exhibit, I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith, we will present a free matinee screening of Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace, a documentary focusing on Smith’s 2005 installation for the Venice Biennale. In June we’ll present a screening of the acclaimed new film by Sophie Fiennes, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, a fascinating portrait of the artist Anselm Kiefer.

Marwencol

Friday, January 21, 2011 7:00 PM FREE
(Jeff Malmberg, 2010, US, video, 82 min)

Nearly ten years after a brutal assault left him traumatized and brain damaged, Mark Hogancamp fights his demons on a battlefield of scale models and dramatically posed action figures, which he lovingly photographs. Mark’s magnum opus is Marwencol, a fictional World War II-era Belgian village populated by heroic GIs, sadistic German officers, and alluring spies. Like the cast of a semi-autobiographical adventure film, many of these colorful characters stand in for the artist’s friends, family, and even his attackers. Unique and fascinating, Marwencol is a striking testament to the therapeutic power of imagination.

Secret Museums

Friday, March 4, 2011 7:00 PM
(Peter Woditsch, 2008, Belgium, video, 76 min.)

The recent auction of the world’s foremost collection of erotic art draws documentarian Peter Woditsch into a historically discreet community of enthusiasts and scholars of sexual expression. Over the course of a European road trip that leads both filmmaker and viewer from mysterious storerooms beneath the British Museum to the Vatican’s hidden trove of Roman erotica, Secret Museums lays bare the hidden history of Europe’s evolving views and taboos about sexuality. Highlights include Pompeii’s raunchy frescoes and the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom scrawled on a roll of prison toilet paper.

Waste Land

Friday, March 11, 2011 7:00 PM
(Lucy Walker, 2010, UK/Brazil, 35mm, 98 min)

Documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker explores the intersection of fine art, social justice, and eco-consciousness in her much-lauded new documentary. Her subject is Vik Muniz, a Brazil-born and Brooklyn-based artist who creates stunning works from unconventional materials. The film follows Muniz on a journey to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill, to create his newest works, made from refuse. Muniz’s unique creative process includes enlisting the aid of some unconventional collaborators: the catadores, local trash pickers who comb the often dangerous mountains of trash for recyclable items. In English and Portuguese with English subtitles.

Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace

Saturday, May 21, 2011 2:00 PM FREE
(Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz, 2006, US, DigiBeta, 45 min.)

Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace documents various stages in the conception, creation, and exhibition of Smith’s installation “Homespun Tales,” which opened in 2005 at the Fondazioni Querini Stampalia in Italy, during the Venice Biennale. Beginning in her New York studio, then traveling to Italy, the filmmakers combine behind-the-scenes footage with interviews of Smith and her collaborators to provide an enlightening and intimate portrait of an artist and her process.

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

Friday, June 3, 2011 7:00 PM
(Sophie Fiennes, 2010, UK/France/The Netherlands, DigiBeta, 105 min.)

Over the course of the last decade, German artist Anselm Kiefer has transformed La Ribaute, a formerly derelict industrial park in southern France, into a massive installation that blurs the line between artwork and exhibition space. La Ribaute is now a sprawling network of galleries, breathtaking sculptures, and dramatic manmade landscapes, often assembled from unorthodox materials including soil, lead, and sand. Fiennes’ film observes these unique artistic practices while making its own formidable contributions to the documentary genre, including its arresting use of widescreen cinematography and long takes.