In introducing the 1975 Cineprobe screening of this trio of films, Hollis Frampton cautioned that the most recent titles were not visibly similar to his previous work. Even so, each of these studies—which render a dairy farm, meat-packing plant, and steel mill in rich textures—furthered the artist’s pursuits as a meta-historian of film. His use of telephoto lenses has the effect of flattening each environment in a way that, over time, makes the shape of the film its very content—a gesture Frampton saw in line with Abstract Expressionist painting. While personal and cinematic references (Sergei Eisenstein, Georges Franju) informed the subject matter, Frampton’s films foreground the act of perception itself. As MoMA curator Donald Richie wrote on the occasion of his 1972 retrospective survey, Frampton’s films “are about perceiving patterns; one deduces, even diagnoses these films; one counts, one finds order.” There are also political implications in Frampton’s recording sites of labor, namely in the stark contrast with the revolutionary context of his Soviet predecessors. In the making of Autumnal Equinox in a Minnesota slaughterhouse (accessed with the aid of the Walker Art Center), this awareness led Frampton to remove the human figure from his film to a large degree, letting the grisly tasks transpire as rhapsodic, quasi-abstract imagery. The filmmaker made a workprint immediately to screen for the workers, and delighted in their observation that “you don’t see us in the film, you see what we see.”
Program 95 min.
Summer Solstice (Solariumagelani). 1974. USA. Directed by Hollis Frampton. 16mm. 32 min.
Autumnal Equinox (Solariumagelani). 1974. USA. Directed by Hollis Frampton. 16mm. 27 min.
Winter Solstice (Solariumagelani). 1974. USA. Directed by Hollis Frampton. 16mm. 36 min.