This free screening of The Pittsburgh Documents is presented as a partnership between the Institute of Modern Art and Queensland Film Festival.
In a career loaded with countless visionary works, Stan Brakhage’s The Pittsburgh Documents, often called The Pittsburgh Trilogy, are a trio of acknowledged masterworks, and represent a radical approach to the concept of a cinematic document rooted in subjective observation. By training his eyes and the film medium on three subjects he felt were elusive, inscrutable, even fearful in their universality, Brakhage sought to gain some empathic foothold—if not an understanding—in these realms of authority (police), illness (hospital) and death (morgue).—UCLA Film & Television Archive.
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16mm prints courtesy of the NFSA.
An extended silent film poem about the Pittsburgh police force. Brakhage follows the events of one night in a patrol car.
Deus Ex (33mins)
Brakhage drew on the experience of time spent ill in hospital to create a visionary film inspired by Charles Olsen’s poem Cob’s Island which begins, ‘I met Death/He didn’t bother me or say anything’. Brakhage describes heart surgery as, ‘equivalent to Aztec ritual sacrifice… the lengths men go to avoid so simple and straightforward a relationship with Death as Charles Olsen managed on/in Cob’s Island’.
The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971, 32mins)
An extended silent film ‘poem’ about an autopsy performed in a coroner’s office in Pittsburgh. “Brakhage enters with his camera, one of the forbidden terrific locations of our culture, the autopsy room”—Hollis Frampton.
Unrated 18 +
Caution, this screening contains graphic autopsy imagery.
Introduced by Dr Alison Taylor, author of Troubled Everyday: The Aesthetics of Violence and the Everyday in European Art Cinema.