Friday, February 15, 8p.m.
TARGET CITY HALL
1989. USA. DIVA TV collective. 27 min.
DIVA TV (Damned Interfering Video Activist Television) came into existence expressly to document the 1989 ACT UP demonstration against New York Mayor Ed Koch’s lack of response to AIDS (he was mayor from 1978 to 1989). Following this action, the group continued as an affinity member of the larger coalition. The main idea was to “grab a camera and document the activism in your area.” The grassroots organization ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) had been founded in 1987 to fight government indifference and misrepresentation of AIDS. ACT UP created hundreds of demonstrations, engaged in acts of civil disobedience, organized education campaigns, produced lobbying efforts, and infiltrated research and policy organizations to great effect.
Target City Hall is an energetic and emotional record of preparing for the demonstration, of the demo itself, and of its aftermath. We see a crowded teach-in on doing civil disobedience, in which people practice letting their bodies go limp when the probability of arrest is high. We watch animated demonstrators en route to converge at Wall Street. Once there, demonstrators who plan to put their bodies on the line form a wide circle. They express fear, great emotion, and camaraderie. An on-the-spot poll is conducted about when they should lie down in the street to block traffic. Should they risk physical harm from the police with so few cameras around, or wait for more media to arrive?
The decision count is tense, and the result is “Now.” The demonstrators link arms and walk single file into the street, shouting, “Health care is a right—act up, fight AIDS.” As police vans move in and arrests are made, moving image shift into stills and Melanie’s anti-Vietnam War protest anthem, “Lay Down,” accompanies the images. “Lay down, lay down, lay it all down. Let your white birds smile, at the ones who stand and frown. We were so close, there was no room. We bled inside each other’s wounds. We all had caught the same disease. And we all sang the songs of peace.” Testimonials expressing excitement and resolve conclude the film. Agitation has given way to enthusiasm: empowerment is a stimulant. “There’s no AIDS care in this city, let them drag me across the street a few times, I don’t care.” – Julie Ault
CORITA ON TEACHING AND CELEBRATION: WE HAVE NO ART
1967. USA. Filmed at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles. Baylis Glascock. 26 min.
CORITA ON TEACHING AND CELEBRATION: MARY’S DAY
1964. USA. Filmed at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles. Baylis Glascock. 12 min.
Baylis Glascock’s color-infused, beautifully shot, and artfully constructed films convey the gentle charisma of Sister Corita Kent and the exhilarating environment of her classroom, which in the mid-1960s was adorned with billboard fragments and the “colors of the marketplace.” Here, Corita frequently repeats the axiom of the Immaculate Heart College’s Art Department in Los Angeles: “We have no art, we do everything as well as we can.”
Corita’s teaching philosophy permeates the film as we witness her crafting “Ten Rules for Students and Teachers” with a group of young women. (A sample goes: If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things... Look at movies carefully and often. Save everything, it might come in handy later). She assigns experiments, instructing students to question their own working structures and, when making collages, to “take things for their visual qualities rather than their content — surprisingly you’ll find the content is always there.”
Interspersed with classroom footage, we witness Corita turning one of her lectures into a participatory happening, and a field trip to the colorful and visually ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼2layered Mark C. Bloome tire shop, where Corita tells students to delight in a two-hour “looking exercise,” despite the fact that the location offers “sixteen hours of looking.” We also view footage from the Vatican II-era Mary’s Day celebration that Corita and her IHC colleagues and students choreographed using Del Monte and supermarket signage to “celebrate the everyday — boxes and cans and packaged things.” Corita kicks off the 1964 gathering with this: “If Mary were here today, I think she would laugh out loud.” Food for people who have none is collected at the altar place. News images of the Vietnam War and civil-rights struggles are tacked to the college’s walls. Glascock’s filmic methods seem to mirror Corita’s educational tenets. Aesthetic stills of people on the street, traffic signage, a Wonder Bread delivery truck, and other quotidian moments are folded into his sensitive cinematography. – Julie Ault
This film is shown on the occasion of the exhibition Tell it to my heart: Collected by Julie Ault at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel.