Artists' Television Access

Craig Baldwin: ¡O No Coronado! & Wild Gunman & RocketKitKongoKit

Friday, September 19, 2014, 7:00 pm, $7-$10

ONO_tonyandcornmealCo-presented by SF Cinematheque.

Craig Baldwin, ATA co-founder and organizer of the Other Cinema series of experimental and underground film/video and performances , is celebrated through two programs of his amazing and influential work exploiting found and archival footage embedded in countercultural sensibilities.

1st program:

¡O No Coronado!, 40 minutes\16mm

: Coronado, one of the least successful conquistadors, is perfectly suited to Baldwin’s purposes in part because his motivation is so blatantly delusional. Arriving in Mexico in 1538, he set out on a fruitless quest to find the imaginary Seven Cities of Cibola. Crossing the desert and the Rio Grande, Coronado explored what is now Arizona and New Mexico, stumbling across the Grand Canyon and engaging in numerous needless fights wit the Indians. The non-existent cities of gold led his expedition as far afield as present-day Kansas, before returning to Mexico City in sodden disarray.

Baldwin illustrates this empty quest with a melange of images culled from swashbucklers and westerns, classroom movies and museum paintings. Christian cartoons and industrial documentaries. He uses whatever comes to hand. This pragmatism produces a richness of metaphor. A clip from an old Vincent Price film stands in for the Inquisition. Coronado is occasionally visualized as Gulliver; when his Indian guide leads hism astray, he’s the Lone Ranger, accompanied by Tonto (and, quite poetically, a few passages from Ravel’s Bolero. When necessary, the narrative is goosed along with a few costume dramatizations. (Coronado is played by a goofy-looking actor in a Spanish helmet). Everything is tied together with generic sci-fi music, strategic sound effects, and two narrators (one specializing in boastful rants), Baldwin is more honest (than regular historical documentaries) in representing the present, interviewing not scholars but tourists and locals: “Coronado: isn’t that a shopping mall around here?” If you want to schlockument the box populi, this is how. –J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Wild Gunman, 20 mins\video

 Mobilizing wildly diverse found-footage fragments, obsessive optical printing, and a dense “musique concrete” soundtrack, a maniac montage of pop-cultural amusements, cowboy iconography, and advertising imagery is re-contextualized within the contemporary geopolitical crisis in a scathing critique of U.S. cultural and political imperialism.

RocketKitKongoKit, 30 Min\video

This kaleidoscopic, amphetamine-paced tour de force uses a barrage of found-footage images and rapid-fire narration to trace a history of Zaire since its independence in 1960. The CIA, German munitions manufacturers, and American popular culture are all indicted in this comic critique of neo-colonialism. Centering on President Mobutu’s lease of 1/0 of the country’s total land area to a West German rocket firm, the film explores both the explicit and implicit historical contradictions that this astonishing arrangement poses and is posed by. With sources of imagery ranging from corporate advertising through 50’s instructional films to Tarzan flicks, and musical components oscillating between aboriginal sounds and contemporary electronic compositions, a critical irony is established between the several voice-over discourses and an energetic montage of “found” visuals. Self-reflexively ordered like a plastic model kit, the film perhaps proposes another, more imaginative model of historiography.

2nd program: 9 PM (Sonic Outlaws)


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