BAM/PFA Gallery Exhibition / Book

Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000

Book Launch: October 15, 2010
BAM/PFA Film and Video Series: September 2010 through March 2011, co-sponsored by San Francisco Cinematheque
BAM/PFA Gallery Exhibition: October 6, 2010 through April 3, 2011
Film Series and Book Tour: January 2011 through December 2012

The San Francisco Bay Area has been home to a thriving and prominent film and videomaking community since at least the 1940s. Of this larger community, a substantial subset of artists, innovators, and experimentalists has pursued alternative forms of visual expression that have influenced other artists far beyond our foggy enclave. The rich history of this alternative practice is explored in the new book Radical Light, published jointly by UC Press and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Through our research efforts to synthesize the artistic output of this diverse group of film and video artists, BAM/PFA has amassed a collection of rare “ephemeral” materials that often represent the remaining traces of what were vital manifestations of the Bay Area media community, its artists, as well as its pedagogical institutions and exhibition venues. These overlooked, often visually striking, archival materials come in the form of posters for bygone cinema screenings, newsletters from extant and now-defunct media organizations, production stills from seminal films that capture the time of their making, historical correspondence by renowned artists, and many other artifacts that encapsulate a half-century’s media culture. Of additional interest, nearly a dozen artist-made collages and drawings commissioned for Radical Light will be displayed in their original form. A special sidebar focuses on the microcinema movement that emerged full-force in the early 1990s and which is attributed to the prophetic inspiration of several Bay Area curators who showed films in intimate settings beginning in the late 1970s. Organized as a loose timeline along the walls of the Theater Gallery, hundreds of discrete paper relics evoke the graphical playfulness and diverse means that sustained a still-flourishing community of alternative media artists.

Steve Seid and Kathy Geritz
Film and Video Curators

Radical Light is curated by Kathy Geritz, Steve Seid, and Steve Anker, Dean of the School of Film/Video at CalArts; the microcinema sidebar is curated by Steve Polta, Artistic Director, San Francisco Cinematheque.