Jan 14, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Nan Goldin & Pawel Wojtasik present: Nothing But A Man
With Nan Goldin and Pawel Wojtasik, Michael Roemer will join the discussion after the film via phone conference.
Nothing But A Man by Michael Roemer
95 min., 1964
A devil-may-care young man is drawn to a grounded young woman, they part, he realizes he prefers stability to freedom, they reconcile. The interest for viewers today as well as 40 years ago lies in the protagonists’ skin color: they are black, as is most everyone else on screen. And they live in the Deep South of the early 1960s, where the still-operative system of peonage conspired to keep African-Americans enslaved economically and beaten down emotionally.
“Extraordinarily eloquent and pure.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Nan Goldin began photographing at the age of 15 and at the age of 19 had her first exhibition of black and white photographs. She received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University, Boston, in 1977. In 1978 she moved to New York where she continued to document her “extended family”. These photographs became the subject of her slide shows and Goldin’s first book, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”. It was groundbreaking work, as she was the first woman to use photography to present the intimate details of her personal life as a public work of art, and inspired a new generation of artists. In 1985 her work was included in the Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and gained international renown. In 1991 she moved to Berlin, Germany on a DAAD grant and continued to live there until 1994. She has participated in many artistic collaborations, including the books “Vakat” (1993) with poet Joachim Sartorious, “Tokyo Love” with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, and “A Double Life” with her old friend David Armstrong (both published in 1994). In 1993, her seminal work “The Other Side,” named after the Boston nightclub where she spent her early years, was published by Scalo. Three years later, in 1996, a major retrospective exhibition of her work, “I’ll be Your Mirror,” closeded at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and toured to museums in Europe. That same year the documentary “I’ll be Your Mirror” was awarded a Teddy Bear Award for Best Essay at the Berlin Film Festival. Goldin made the film in collaboration with Edmund Coulthard. In 1997 Goldin went back to Naples and was inspired to make new pictures dedicated to the memory of her friends Cookie Mueller, Daniele and Vittorio Scarpati, and thus in 1997 her book “Ten Years After” was published. In 2000 she moved to Paris and in 2001 a second retrospective, “Le Feu Follet,” was held at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and it, too, toured internationally under the title “The Devil’s Playground” to institutions such as the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, the Reina Sofia, Madrid, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Castello di Rivoli, Turin and Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw. Her film “Sisters Saints and Sibyls” at the Festival d’Automne in 2004 drew the largest attendance ever at the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière. This piece, a combination of film and still images projected on three screens, is a story of three women trapped in a male hierarchy. It pays homage to her sister Barbara, whose rebellion and suicide have so deeply marked her life and work. In 2006, Goldin was awarded the prestigious “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” by the government of France in recognition for her significant contribution to the arts. In 2007, Goldin received the Hassleblad Foundation International Award in Photography, coinciding with the publication of a book, “The Beautiful Smile”, and an exhibition that traveled internationally. Also that year she was included in the group show “Airs de Paris” at Centre Pompidou. In 2009 Goldin was the guest curator at Recontres d’Arles festival for their 40th anniversary, she invited twelve photographers to participate in the exhibition, “Ça me touché”. Goldin’s most recent slide show “Scopophilia” was created especially for the Musée du Louvre and was exhibited at the end of 2010.
Currently she works and lives both in Paris and New York.
Pawel Wojtasik was born in Lodz, Poland, and lived in Tunisia before immigrating to the U.S. in 1972. He met Michael Roemer and Nan Goldin while studying painting at Yale. From 1998 till 2000 Pawel was a resident at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Buddhist monastery. Wojtasik’s films and installations are visionary and poetic reflections on our environment and culture. He has taken his camera to such sites as a garbage dump, a landfill, a sewage treatment plant, an autopsy room. His film The Aquarium (2006) has dealt with the destruction of the oceans; 360° panoramic video installation Below Sea Level (2009, with soundscape by Stephen Vitiello), was concerned with the plight of New Orleans, as was Next Atlantis (2010, with music by Sebastian Currier), which premiered at Carnegie Hall last January. Most recently, his film Pigs (2010) was included in Views from the Avant-Garde, a part of New York Film Festival. Pigs will be presented at Berlinale 2011 in the Forum Expanded section and will have its Asian premiere in April 2011 at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Pawel Wojtasik is represented by Priska C. Juschka Fine Art.
Michael Roemer left his native Germany during WWII and lived in England until 1945 when he emigrated to the United States. He was attending Harvard when he made an auspicious directorial debut with his comedy-fantasy feature A Touch of the Times (1949). Following graduation, Roemer spent eight years working with Louis_De_Rochemont as a production manager, film editor, and assistant director. He went on to make short educational films and one unreleased full-length documentary, Cortile_Cascino, before making his fictional feature-film debut, Nothing But a Man, in 1964. An honest and realistic view of the modern African-American experience, it earned two awards at the following year’s Venice Film Festival and earned him considerable critical acclaim in France. His next film, The_Plot_Against_Harry, finished filming in 1969, but was not released until 1989. It too garnered him widespread praise. In addition to making features, Roemer has also occasionally made films for television, including Haunted (1984). -Sandra Brennan, Rovi