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Wolfson Archives Screen Never-Before-Seen Vintage Films

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Miami-based artist Barron Sherer is no stranger to work in film and archiving every day, rudimentary film/video. As a curator and producer of many film-related events in South Florida, he has a unique perspective when blending different aspects of the cinematic tradition with artistic conceptualizations and presentations. “This is a very direct approach to this mandate,” says time-based media artist, archivist and researcher, “the archives happened to make their moving image collections publicly accessible."

“The challenge was presenting their materials in a new context," says Sherer. "With our program’s diptych presentation and added music element, we’re hoping our audience goes beyond the tripping nostalgic one associates with home movies and amateur filmmaking and enjoy them aesthetically; looking for associations and connections in these unique arrangements of films screening publicly for the first time.”

These films, part of the Wolfson Archives and largely unseen by the public, will include “South Florida and Caribbean-centric” home movies and amateur film that will be screened in a new media exhibition space, The Screening Room. These have been selected by Sherer from the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives and are all 16mm preservation prints, each treated and preserved by the archive in a “laborious and expensive photochemical restoration.”
The films will be presented as a diptych, with two reels projected side-by-side with music accompanying the silent films selected and spun by artist and musician David Brieske. Brieske’s experimental music, under the guise of Fsik Huvnx, is as original as it is informed by his extensive personal collection of esoteric and obscure LPs. “The films are also being screened unedited, David Brieske’s sonic contribution will add an incredible dimension,” adds Sherer.

This blend of artistry and hands-on participation gels well with the Archives’ current goals. “We’re always looking for new venues for our collection,” says Wolfson Archives Director Rene Ramos in the press release for Moving Images: Archives to Audience, the premiere screening for the collection. “Just because our collection is archival doesn’t mean it has to stay in one place.” It also serves as a way of retaining viability for a format that is completely foreign to those born in the digital age.

Will this cause a stir and/or resurgence like vinyl has had in recent years? Probably not, but the pairing of vinyl with 16 mm projections is a perfect one.

“One of the films on the program is a family from Arkansas who shot some of the last home movies in Havana before Castro kicked out American tourists,” explains Sherer of the selected reels. “There are fishing trips in the Everglades in the ‘20s, people shooting home movies of their TV screen as 1960s Hurricane Donna approaches, a 1930s Spring recital at an all-girls school on Brickell Avenue, car trips through the Keys in the ‘40s… all restored and archived at Wolfson.”

Collaborations like this, help redefine purposes and are usually great boons for awareness. Hopefully, with a successful premiership, the Archives will be able to continue restoring and preserving oft-unknown but culturally and historically important artifacts.
At least, the attitude is in the right place, as Sherer says, “what we’re looking for is a more active spectatorship and oh, it’s just plain fun!”

Moving Images: Archives to Audience at 7 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at The Screening Room in the Mitrani Warehouse, 2626 NW Second Ave., Miami. Open to the public and free of charge. Call 305- 237-7731 or visit wolfsonarchives.info.

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