This is the Spring, 2020 edition of Recommended Events in the Boston area related to Documentary, Media Art, Moving Image Culture, and Storytelling. The listing is updated periodically with a major update at the start of the Fall and Spring semesters each year.
I welcome your suggestions for additional events that fit the theme of this listing, please send me your suggestion via the contact form on this site (please include a URL to the event page and your thoughts why it should be on this list) — David Tamés.
Media Art Installations
- Richard Mosse: Incoming (2014–2017, 52-minutes, three-channel video installation, surround sound).
- This work sheds light on the refugee crisis and “the urgent narratives of human displacement,” produced using a thermographic surveillance technology and accompanied by a score by Ben Frost, currently on view as part of the When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art exhibition at ICA/Boston closes on Jan 26, 2020.
- Isaac Julien: Western Union: Small Boats (2007, 19 minutes, three-channel video installation, surround sound).
- This is a groundbreaking meditation on histories of African migration combining exquisite images with elements of documentary, dance, and musical performance and is part of Julien’s exploration of Black diasporic and postcolonial experience in a humanistic context. Currently on view as part of the When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art exhibition at ICA/Boston closes on Jan 26, 2020.
Lectures, Panels, Artist, Exhibition Talks
- The Artist’s Voice: Richard Mosse, Thursday, January 23, 7 PM, ICA/Boston, tickets are FREE, a limited number will be available online 24 hours before event; tickets are also available at the ICA starting 2 hours prior to the event.
- A discussion of the exhibition, Nostalgia Tech, Wednesday, February 12th, 7:30pm at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery. Presenters: Nathan Miner, Chris Fitch, & Mark Favermann, an opportunity to hear from two of the artists and the co-curator of the show!
- In the Nostalgia Tech Exhibition, basic historical references are made to 19th Century and 20th Century creations using the technology of the period to elicit delight, amusement, admiration, and even astonishment.
- Are you aware of other interesting artist talks, lectures, panels? Let me know!
Film Screenings with Filmmaker Q&A
- From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock: A Reporter’s Journey (2019, Kevin McKiernan).
- Boston premiere screening and conversation with director-writer Kevin McKiernan, Thursday, January 30, 4:30 PM at MIT Building 4 Room 370, free but requires a ticket. A rookie NPR reporter on his first assignment, covering the armed occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1973, is treated as the enemy and ultimately arrested by the FBI. Forty years later, he meets a Yurok Indian fisherman in California, a man he unwittingly had photographed during the 10-week occupation. The two become friends, traveling back to the Dakotas and later to the pipeline protests at Standing Rock, to investigate the legacy of 1970’s activism in Indian Country.
- All We’ve Got (Alexis Clements, 2019, 67 minutes) screens on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 7:00 PM at the Bright Family Screening Room at Emerson College
- This personal documentary explores LGBTQI women’s communities, cultures, and social justice work through the lens of the spaces they create, from bars to bookstores to arts and political hubs. Discussion with writer and director Alexis Clements (’02) to follow. Free and open to the public, seating is on a first-come basis.
- América (Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside, 2018), Monday, February 10, 7pm, Brattle Theatre.
- Diego, a circus artist, and his brothers reunite to take care of their aging grandmother, América, in a film that breathes new life into the observational genre. The DocYard is screening the full-length festival cut and filmmakers Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside will attend in person for a post-screening Q&A with the DocYard’s Guest Curator, Abby Sun.
- My First Film, performance with digital projection, Brattle Theatre, Monday, February 24, 7pm.
- Zia Anger’s live cinema performance challenges cinematic conventions with a first-person perspective to deliver a savvy critique of the gatekeeping apparatuses of independent film in a performance work inviting participation that is adapted to every audience and situation. Filmmaker Zia Anger will attend in person for a post-screening Q&A.
- SELF-DESTRUCTION CINEMA: the films of Tetsuya Mariko, February 21-24 at the Harvard Film Archive.
- The Harvard Film Archive welcomes Tetsuya Mariko, now an artist-in-residence at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, for three evenings of screenings and conversations, together with producer Eisei Shu.
- Redoubt (Matthew Barney, 2018, 134 minutes), screening January 9, 7:30 pm and January 11, 2:30 pm at the MFA
- Set in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountain range, the film layers classical, cosmological, and American myths about humanity’s place in the natural world, continuing Barney’s long-standing preoccupation with the landscape as both a setting and subject.
- Kusama: Infinity (2018, Heather Lenz, 80 minutes), screening at the ICA/Boston on Sunday, March 1at 2 pm
- Explores artist Yayoi Kusama’s journey from a conservative upbringing in Japan to her brush with fame in America during the 1960s (where she rivaled Andy Warhol for press attention) and concludes with the international acclaim she has finally achieved within the art world. Now in her 90s, Kusama has spent the last 30 years living in a mental institution in Japan.
- Nostalgia for the Light (2010, Patricio Guzmán, 90 min., original title: Nostalgia de la luz) screens on film on February 23 4:00 pm and February 29 9:00 pm at the Harvard Film Archive.
- Guzmán takes you to Chile’s remote Atacama Desert, whose unusual conditions give the world’s largest telescopes privileged access to the stars and their cosmic secrets. One of the driest places on the planet, the Atacama also preserves almost anything buried in its sand—including ancient indigenous remains and, more recently, the fragments of victims’ bodies scattered there by Pinochet’s death squads.
- The Pearl Button (Patricio Guzmán, 2015, 82 min., original title: El botón de nácar) screens February 28, 9:00 pm and February, 29 7:00 pm at the Harvard Film Archive.
- Guzmán’s follow-up to Nostalgia for the Light led him to Chile’s western coastline and the repressed history of the indigenous peoples whose culture and livelihood were dependent upon the seas. Tracing the little-known story of Jemmy Button—a native of the Tierra del Fuego islands taken to England as a trophy and tool of English colonizers—Guzmán contemplates the symbol of the single button offered as remuneration to the young man and hauntingly echoed in another button found in the ocean’s depths by investigators searching for the remains of Pinochet victims.
- Opening reception celebrating two new exhibitions: Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts and Colored People Time (CPT) at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Thursday, February 6, 6:30 – 8:30 PM.
- California-born, Berlin-based artist Christine Sun Kim (b. 1980) works in sound, performance, drawing, installation, and video. She considers the sonic as a multi-sensory phenomenon, one whose properties are auditory, visual, and spatial, as well as socially determined.
- The group exhibition Colored People Time (CPT) offers a profound exploration into how the history of chattel slavery and colonialism in America not only shaped the foundations of our country but exists in our present moment and impacts our future.
- FeministFuturist, Opening Reception, Saturday, February 8, 6–9 pm, FeministFuturist attire encouraged!
- This exhibition seeks to add to the cultural conversation about the future from a feminist point of view, inserting female-centered narratives into future worlds. The exhibition includes work that speculates on future earth communities and the potential lives of beings of all kinds while offering visions of coexistence, healing, and community. An opportunity to speak with artists and curators.
- LOVE IS CALLING exhibition (requires advanced timed tickets) at the ICA, Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929, Matsumoto, Japan) is a major icon of contemporary art, her work weaves together pop art, minimalism, and psychedelia, her room-scale work is particularly interesting, the exhibition as a medium.
A story slam is a live storytelling competition in the vein of a poetry slam. The most popular series, StorySLAM, has been organized by The Moth since 2001. Storytellers have 5 minutes each to tell a story, based on a theme chosen for the event. No notes are allowed: stories must be told and not read.
- TRIDENT SLAM SERIES, second Tuesdays at the Trident Cafe and Bookshop, 338 Newbury St. Doors, 6 pm, Slam starts at 7 pm, tickets available at Eventbrite, dates and themes:
- Jan 14th Who knew?
- Feb 11th Labor of Love
- Mar 10th Piece of Cake
- CLUB PASSIM SLAM Series, 3rd Mondays at Club Passim, 47 Palmer St, Cambridge, Doors, 6pm, Slam starts at 7pm, tickets available at ClubPassim.org, dates and themes:
- Jan 20th Go the Distance
- Feb 17th Hold On Now
- Mar 16th Tripped Up
- Moth StorySLAMs in Boston, dates and themes:
- Story Slam at Turtle Swamp Brewing, theme: Red Flag, January 19 at 5:30 PM, tickets available through Eventbrite.
- Story Slam at Stella Osteria, theme: Irresistible, February 13, 7:00 PM tickets available through Eventbrite.
Photo credit: Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Brighton, United Kingdom, photo by Jake Hills