Mon, Nov 18 at 7pm, Anthology Film Archives
Co-presented with Organism for Poetic Research

Yto Barrada, Sara Cwynar, Zachary Epcar, and Daniel Paul in person. Discussion moderated by Lucy Ives, novelist and critic.

This program of short films and a visual lecture focuses on the sensual and erotic elements of surfaces: color, shape, texture, flexibility, penetrability. The works explore the impulse of humans to interact with and be absorbed by their physical environments, as well as the advertising languages and industrial production that exploit this urge. Architectural historian Daniel Paul lectures on the skin-like surfaces of mirror glass architecture in the 1970s, while Yto Barrada’s FALSE START exposes the artisanship around fake fossils in Morocco. In the theater of appearances, the viewer activates matter, but not without consequence. These films celebrate artifice, glamour, and “thing-ness” while revealing uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes violent points of intersection.


Daniel Paul SMOOTH OPERATOR: Late-Modern Mirror Glass Architecture, 1970-1985. 2019, 20 min, audio-visual lecture
Superstudio Gli Atti Fondamentali VITA (SUPERSUPERFICIE) 1972, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital
Zachary Epcar RETURN TO FORMS 2016, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital
Sara Cwynar RED FILM 2018, 13 min, digital
Yto Barrada FALSE START 2010, 23 min, digital

Total running time: 76 min.


Daniel Paul SMOOTH OPERATOR: Late-Modern Mirror Glass Architecture, 1970-1985. 2019, 20 min, audio-visual lecture
A student of the vernacular and the weird, architectural historian Daniel Paul reveals the history and aesthetic underpinnings of one of Los Angeles’s most identifiable tropes: curtain walls of mirrored glass – from countless corporate centers of Orange County to the iconic Bonaventure Hotel. In this distillation of his audio-visual lecture Smooth Surface: Late-Modern Mirror Glass Architecture, Paul explores the origination of glass “skin” building technology and its importance in post-modernism and popular culture. Mirror glass buildings are both present and absent: visually ecstatic, their surfaces reflect the world and erase their own form, evoking the opacity of glamour and slippery modes of global capital.

Superstudio Gli ATTI FONDAMENTALI VITA (SUPERSUPERFICIE) 1972, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital
A collage of organic sounds, iconic images of architecture, popular imagery and rationalized grids, ATTI FONDAMENTALI VITA (SUPERSUPERFICIE) is the first episode of a proposed series of “Fundamental Acts” by the Italian conceptual architecture group SuperStudio.  Using storyboard, cut-up and collage, SuperStudio’s anthropological and philosophical vision of a world without boundaries uses the flat grid to intervene into physical reality and put the world on the same plane. From the perspective of today, the film seems wildly predictive of online space, though this utopian “alternative model of life on Earth," was in many ways its opposite: free from standardized objects, needs and behaviors. (adapted from Frac Centre and Architecture Player)

Zachary Epcar RETURN TO FORMS 2016, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital
“ A constellation of objects, each emerging into the soft peach-light void of an indeterminate condominium space.” — Zachary Epcar

Subjecting our visual (and virtual) lexicon of luxury to a series of sculptural and kinetic interventions, the film evokes a crazed anthropologist’s observations of a bizarre cargo cult — our own. The climactic vision... is typical of Epcar’s exuberant play with meaning: the commodity pulverized, reconstituted as a new order of objet d’art, and finally relinquished to the rude flow of cinema. (Max Goldberg)

Sara Cwynar RED FILM 2018, 13 min, digital
Is finding the perfect matt red lipstick something women should aspire to? RED FILM reveals and critiques the persuasive capitalist machinations directed at women to conform and consume. A flurry of quotations from the world’s foremost thinkers address the color-coding of mass-produced consumer goods such as cosmetics, shoes and the red muscle car. All the while, Cwynar hangs upside down turning blue in the face from telling the story over and over again.

Yto Barrada FALSE START 2010, 23 min, digital
Artist Yto Barrada observes the elaborate fossil industry in Morocco. Paying homage to the 'preparators' in the arid region between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, whose intrepid work is fueling a thriving trade in artifacts real, faux and hybrid, FALSE START is a rebuke to the fetishistic thirst for foreign objects, a sly meditation on authenticity, and a paean to creativity. (Andréa Picard)


Yto Barrada is a multidisciplinary artist working with photography, film, sculpture, prints and installations. Exploring the peculiar situation of her hometown Tangier, her work has been exhibited at Tate Modern (London), MoMA (New York), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London), and the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennale. The founding director of Cinémathèque de Tanger, she is a recipient of the 2013-2014 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography (Peabody Museum at Harvard University) and was awarded the 2015 Abraaj Prize.

Zachary Epcar (b. 1987, San Francisco) is a filmmaker based in San Francisco. His work has screened at the New York Film Festival – Projections, Pacific Film Archive, Ann Arbor Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque’s Crossroads, Images Festival, Rencontres Internationales Paris / Berlin, the Rotterdam, Edinburgh, San Francisco International Film Festivals, and elsewhere. He is a co-programmer of Light Field, an annual exhibition of experimental cinema:

Based in Southern California, Daniel Paul is a Senior Architectural Historian with ICF: a global environmental consulting firm. He has completed multiple landmark nominations to preserve various properties, primarily in the greater Los Angeles region, that include: the Capitol Records Building, the entirety of Griffith Park, the Integratron, and for New York he was content editor for the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge interior landmark designation: the city’s first Postmodern interior to be listed. (adapted from LACA)

Sara Cwynar is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is interested in how design and popular images infiltrate our consciousness. In her book Kitsch Encyclopedia (2013), she considers how familiar, sentimental images smooth over unpleasant realities, to cover up “the systems of control embedded within our social, economic, and political lives.” Her work has been exhibited at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT), Minneapolis Institute of Art (MN), MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt, Germany), 33rd Bienal de São Paulo (Brazil), Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain d’Occitane (Sète, France), MoMA PS1 (New York); and are in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst and Centre Pompidou.


Lucy Ives is the author of two novels: Impossible Views of the World, published by Penguin Press and selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice, and Loudermilk: Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World, published by Soft Skull Press and also a New York Times Editors' Choice. Her essays and stories have appeared in Art in AmericaArtforumThe BafflerThe Chronicle of Higher EducationfriezeGrantaLapham's Quarterly, and Vogue, among other publications. For five years she was an editor with the online magazine Triple Canopy. A graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University. Ives currently teaches in NYU’s XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement Master's program and was a recipient of a 2018 Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. In 2020, Siglio Press will publish The Saddest Thing Is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins Reader, a selection of Gins's poetry and prose, edited and with an introduction by Ives; a collection of Ives's short stories is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in early 2021.

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STILL: Sara Cwynar, Red Film, 2018, still courtesy of Foxy Production, New York, and theartist. Copyright the artist.