Media Arts Program

Tuesday, December 12, 1978


Presented at:

In person presentations by media artists Ericka Beckman and Kathy Bigelow featuring: THE SET-UP (Kathy Bigelow, 1978) and WE IMITATE; WE BREAK-UP (Ericka Beckman).

A much better bio than IMDB on the art-world & Columbia University beginnings of 2009 Oscar-nominated HURT LOCKER director Kathryn Bigelow, shared by early Hallwalls curator Roger Denson: “An only child, Kathryn Bigelow was born in 1951 and raised in a town, San Carlos, 25 miles south of San Francisco, where she first nurtured a lifelong love of art and horses. She was a student painter at the Art Institute of San Francisco and later the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program, where she studied with Vito Acconci and Susan Sontag. She joined a conceptual art group, “Art & Language,” with Lawrence Wiener and Joseph Kosuth, and appeared in Lizzie Borden’s 1983 feminist film BORN IN FLAMES. [Bigelow] earned her Master’s degree in the film division of the Columbia University School of the Arts, where she immersed herself in theories about [semiotics] and the cinematic spectacle. “Film,” she says, “became the interchange where all these ideas were intersecting.” As she moved between uptown and down, she also made her first film, THE SET-UP (1978), a short in which two men (one of them Gary Busey) fight each other as semioticians Sylvère Lotringer and Marshall Blonsky deconstruct the images in voice-over. Although she now plays down the film, it seems like a template for much of her later work, with its emphasis on men, masculinity, violence, and power. A few years ago she elaborated on its themes: “The piece ends with Sylvère talking about the fact that in the 1960s you think of the enemy as outside yourself, in other words, a police officer, the government, the system, but that’s not really the case at all; fascism is very insidious, we reproduce it all the time” (Manohla Dargis, NY TIMES).

Kathryn Bigelow, age 27, visited Hallwalls in person on December 12, 1978 to screen her first film, THE SET-UP. Lizzie Borden visited Hallwalls on May 9, 1986 to present BORN IN FLAMES (1983), which featured Bigelow in the role of "Newspaper Editor." Other artists cast as actors in BORN IN FLAMES: Ron Vawter, filmmaker Sheila McLaughlin, performance artist Marty Pottenger, playwright/actor Eric Bogosian, video artist Gary Hill, and photographer John Coplans, most of whom (with the exception of Coplans) visited/presented work at Hallwalls in the period 1979–1986. Several other films and videos featuring Vawter were screened 1992–1995.

Some publications related to this event:
December, 1978 - 1978

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