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Sep 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Images of Asian Music and At Sea with Peter Hutton

With Peter Hutton and Jem Cohen.

Peter Hutton’s unforgettable films, typically shot and exhibited on 16mm, often portray landscapes and cityscapes from around the world. Here we present his sublime, At Sea, which overviews the life cycle of a container ship (recently awarded the top spot on Film Comment’s Best of the Decade: Avant-Garde list). Proceeding this we will screen Hutton’s Images of Asian Music, which recalls his time as a US Merchant Marine in Southeast Asia in the early 1970’s.

Program Runtime: 89 minutes


29 min. | 16mm | b/w | silent

“Rich with truly wonderful visions: a thick, white porcelain cup perched on a ship’s rail, the tea within swaying gently in sync with the ship while the sea rushes by beyond?the faces of crewmen posing awkwardly but also movingly for the camera; a cockfight on ship; scenes from a bucolic pre–Pol Pot Phnom Penh. Images has the haunting elegiac resonance of Eugène Atget’s Paris, the echo of a time and place that was.” – Jon Jost

AT SEA (2007)

60 min. | 16mm | color and b/w | silent

“The sublime is no more strongly felt than in Peter Hutton’s magisterial At Sea. Put simply, the film tells the story (“the birth, life and death”—in the director’s words) of a container ship—but there are no words to adequately describe the film’s awesome visual expedition. Hutton knows the sea. His experiences as a former merchant seaman have informed his filmmaking practice, known for its rigor and epic beauty. At Sea begins in South Korea with diminutive workers shipbuilding. The colossal vessel is revealed in de Chirico-worthy proportions, its magnitude surreal to the human eye. Off to sea, the splendor and intensity of the water—set against the vibrant colors of the containers—causes us to see the world anew. The film concludes in Bangladesh amidst ship breakers as enthralled by Hutton’s camera as we are by his images.” – Andréa Picard, Toronto International Film Festival Programmer.  


Peter Hutton received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has taught at Hampshire College, Harvard University, SUNY Purchase. He has produced more than 20 films, most of which are portraits of cities and landscapes around the world. In 2008, the Museum of Modern Art curated a retrospective of his work, which has shown in major museums and at festivals in the United States and Europe, including Whitney Biennial (1985, 1991, 1995, 2004). He is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, DAAD Berliner, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Dutch Film Critics Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has taught at Bard College since 1984.


Cohen has made approximately 50 films including Instrument, Chain, Lost Book Found, and Benjamin Smoke (with Peter Sillen). His work is in the collections of MoMA and the Whitney and has been broadcast by PBS, Arte, the BBC, and the Sundance Channel. He he’s had retrospectives at venues including the NFT in London, Buenos Aires Independent Film Fest, and Punto de Vista in Spain, which published the monograph, Signal Fires: The Cinema of Jem Cohen, in 2010. Cohen has collaborated extensively with musicians including Fugazi, Patti Smith, Terry Riley, Vic Chesnutt, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, R.E.M., DJ Rupture, Blonde Redhead, Elliott Smith, and the Ex, as well as writer Luc Sante. As an activist, Cohen was extensively involved in overturning proposed restrictions on street photography in New York City. Current projects include the feature, Museum Hours, and the Gravity Hill Newsreels (about Occupy Wall Street).


Sep 16, 2012
8:30 pm – 11:00 pm

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