Documentary

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Documentary

A Look Inside the 45,000-Piece Collection of Trashed Treasures Curated by Sanitation Worker Nelson Molina

September 11, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

If, like me, you live in New York City, you’re confronted on the daily with mounds of trash on the sidewalk. While the appliances, antique furniture, clothing, and houseplants are a passing novelty for pedestrians such as myself, for Nelson Molina, the trash was his daily focus for 34 years. The veteran New York Sanitation worker, who retired in 2015 from his East Harlem route, has collected over 45,000 items of interest, all culled from his professional immersion in what New Yorkers discard.

His curatorial efforts have been widely chronicled over the years, including a 2012 profile in The New York Times, and particularly at inflection points when the collection’s future is uncertain. A new short documentary film by director Nicholas Heller meets up with the contagiously enthusiastic Molina for a look inside his curatorial process and the present state of the collection. There is currently a fundraising effort to create a permanent home for Molina’s ‘Treasures in the Trash,’ which you can contribute to here. If you’re interested in more anthropological trash projects, check out Jenny Odell’s Bureau of Suspended Objects, an archive created out of Odell’s time as an artist in residence at a San Francisco dump.

 

 



Art Documentary

Repurposing the World’s Plastic Waste: An Interview With Assemblage Sculptor Thomas Deininger

August 28, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Every year more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans. This anxiety, coupled with fears of a dramatic decline in insect populations and a global climate crisis, fuel the assemblage-based works of Thomas Deininger (previously). In a new short film by gnarly bay, clips of Deininger in his studio are supercut with footage showing the many ways that plastic has laid damage to our world’s sea creatures and environment. It is these bits of mindlessly discarded plastic that the Bristol, Rhode Island-based artist uses to create his sculptural optical illusions—which are often of the exact same animals and insects that the plastic threatens. You can see more of Deininger’s three-dimensional works built from found objects on Instagram.

 

 



Art Documentary

Filmmaker Bas Berkhout Steps Inside Portrait Painter Kathryn Engberg’s New York Studio

August 19, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A short documentary film by Bas Berkhout profiles third generation portrait painter Kathryn Engberg. In the 6 minute-long film, Berkhout turns the tables on Engberg⁠—usually the observer and chronicler⁠—taking a look inside the artist’s studio and digging into her story. “As a painter of people myself, I tried to give Bas total control to capture what felt compelling to him. As someone so self-admittedly interested in being in the audience, it was strange to see myself as the focus. But I trusted Bas to create a wonderful piece,” Engberg tells Colossal.

The artist is currently working on a series of paintings inspired by the artist Artemisia Gentileschi  (who is perhaps best known for Judith Slaying Holofernes), and will be exhibiting in the group show “Face to Face” at Robert Simon Fine Art in New York City. The show opens on November 14, 2019. See more of Engberg’s paintings and sketches on Instagram and explore Berkhout’s film portfolio on Vimeo. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 

 



Art Documentary

Life in Miniature: Medical Devices and Pre-Packaged Foods Immortalized in Tiny Sculptures by Kath Holden and Margaret Shaw

April 2, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Kath Holden constantly daydreams about the everyday objects she can transform into tiny sculptures. Even during doctor’s appointments, the U.K.-based miniaturist glances around the room to investigate which medical devices she can cull for inspiration. Holden runs Delph Minatures with her business partner and mother Margaret Shaw, a fellow miniature maker who specializes in food-related items such as pre-packaged steaks, baskets of fruit, and trays of brownies.

The pair was recently profiled in Life in Miniature, a short film by Ellen Evans which delves into the women’s studios and their opinions on the world of miniatures. Holden explains that she views other miniaturists as often being stuck in the past. She doesn’t understand the desire to recreate Georgian and Victorian houses, when you could produce objects for ordinary people, and produce objects relevant today. “I like to represent now,” she explains in the film. “The era I life in. If we don’t do miniatures of what we do now, how will it be represented in the future?”

The film premiered at the Sheffield DocFest in June 2018 and was in the official selection for Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Hot Docs, Aspen ShortsFest, and several other festivals. You can view the short documentary in the video above, and learn more about the Holden and Shaw’s wide range of contemporary miniatures on their website.

 

 



Design Documentary

Rubber Powered Model Airplanes Take Flight in New ‘Float’ Documentary Trailer

March 10, 2019

Andrew LaSane

The full trailer for the documentary Float (previously) introduces the world to a niche indoor sport that involves building and flying self-propelled model airplanes. Directed and edited by Phil Kibbe, the film follows two American pilots, Brett Sanborn and Yuan Kang Lee, as they gear up for the sport’s main event: the F1D World Championships in Romania.

The new trailer showcases the elegant movement of the model planes, and the delicate technique that the pilots use to tightly twist the rubber bands that power them. The movement of the planes appears to be slowed down, but the movement of the pilots and spectators confirms that the footage has not been altered for effect. The world premiere of Float will take place on April 5 at the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival, in Cleveland, Ohio, with additional screenings throughout the weekend.

 

 



Documentary

Meow Wolf Explains Their Origin Story in a Feature-Length Documentary

November 6, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

The sprawling team behind the equally sprawling megalopolis of art called Meow Wolf (previously) have banded together to create a feature-length documentary explaining how its “House of Eternal Return” came to be. The 88-minute film, titled Origin Story, was directed by Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller and written by Capps and Spitzmiller along with Christina Procter. It follows the seven founding members along with hundreds of volunteers through the decade-long journey of exploring, creating, and building Meow Wolf. The film includes footage from the nascent days of Meow Wolf’s artists working together, and also dives into the future plans of the group.

Built out of an old bowling alley in Santa Fe, New Mexico with the support of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, Meow Wolf opened to the public in 2016 filled with works by 150 artists spread out over 20,000 square feet. The immersive art experience has quickly become a cultural touchpoint, as it’s welcomed over one million visitors in the last three years, and is in the process of expanding to two new locations, in Denver, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Meow Wolf’s original location has expanded as well, with several new rooms and sequences added in 2018. Cakeland, by Scott Hove (previously) explores notions of heaven and hell, and lightness and darkness, in his two-part installation which engages his signature “cake” creations. (You can watch a 5 minute video that takes you behind the scenes and inside Hove’s head here.)

Justin Di Ianni also built a new portal called Timeworm. “The space is a representation of our idea of the fifth dimension,” Meow Wolf shared. “For those out of the know, the fifth dimension is one in which all time and space occur in the same instant. This means that there is no visible movement, rather all movement appears as a singular line through space. Imagine all of your life’s journeys being viewed as a single line on a global map; that’s dimension five.”

The film will be released on November 29, 2018 at 600 theaters around the country. You can take a look here to see if it’s playing nearby, and follow along with Meow Wolf’s adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

Update: You can now rent or purchase a digital copy of the full documentary online.

 

 



Documentary

Commodity City: A Fascinating Glimpse Inside the World’s Largest Wholesale Market

May 15, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

The Yiwu International Trade Market in China is the world’s largest wholesale market, stretching nearly five miles and containing over 75,000 individual vendors. Chinese-American film director Jessica Kingdon peeks into the daily lives of the market’s workers in her observational documentary Commodity City, exploring the subtle interactions that occur amongst hoards of dolls, flowers, neon signs, clocks, and other consumer goods.

The work is filmed in long, static shots, mirroring the days each vendor spends inside the consumer metropolis. Commodity City has played in over fifty film festivals, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Cinema Eye Honors. The Brooklyn-based director received her BA in Film Studies from Columbia University and her MA in Media Studies from The New School. In 2017, she was named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine. You can see more of the short films Kingdon has produced and directed on her website and Vimeo. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)

 

 

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