Flaherty at MoMA: Turning the Inside Out

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The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar at the Flaherty Farm in Vermont circa 1950s (Flaherty at MoMA: Turning the Inside Out, June 21 – 30, 2014). Courtesy the Flaherty Seminar.

Flaherty at MoMA: Turning the Inside Out

June 21–29, 2014

Each year MoMA’s Department of Film collaborates with one of the Robert Flaherty Film Seminars—the longest continuously running film programs in North America and a one-of-a-kind institution that seeks to encourage filmmakers and other artists to explore the potential of the moving image—on an exhibition that focuses on films and filmmakers working in a specific thematic area. The Flaherty’s 60th Anniversary Seminar probes the essence and frontiers of the form that inspired its beginnings: the documentary.

Turning the Inside Out, organized by programmers Caspar Stracke and Gabriela Monroy, examines the state of documentary as it travels between the art gallery, the cinema, and the interactive screen. In an era of colliding genres and mediums, what holds documentary together from the inside out? What can a radical, Godardian focus on the form of documentary—"Who speaks and acts, from where, for whom, and how?"—reveal about the politics, poetics, and ethics of making media today? And how effective is the chosen form?

To answer these questions, the curators turn to a unique group of documentary artists—some of whom produce new aesthetic idioms, and others who move seamlessly between media without changing their vocabulary. Together they ask: which genre (essay film, auto/biography, docufiction) and exhibition form (theater, gallery installation, Web-based platform) best supports the expression of an idea, and how can form optimize documentary’s potential to connect us to unfamiliar places, objects, or situations? In confronting the effectiveness of form, the works in this program amplify new and unexpected tensions: between the need to participate and the desire to withdraw; between aesthetic expression and direct action; between staying inside or going out.

For this year’s program, MoMA and the Robert Flaherty Seminars present three artists, each representing one particular aspect of this topic: Shuddhabrata Sengupta from Raqs Media Collective (New Delhi) and Shaina Anand from CAMP (Mumbai), representing their respective artist collectives, and Scottish moving image artist Duncan Campbell.

Organized in collaboration with the 2014 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar.

Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; with Caspar Stracke, artist, filmmaker, and curator; Gabriela Monroy, video artist and curator; and Anita Reher, Executive Director, The Robert Flaherty Seminars.

Image: The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar at the Flaherty Farm in Vermont circa 1950s (Flaherty at MoMA: Turning the Inside Out, June 21 – 30, 2014). Courtesy the Flaherty Seminar.