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The Artists: A six-month screening series is coming to SECCA

by Mark Burger

Beginning next Thursday, Jan. 17, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem will present a series of six films designed to delve into the artistic mindset and methodology. Titled The Artists, the film series will take place the third Thursday of each month through June.

The films selected for this series include both documentary and narrative features, and following each screening there will be an informal panel discussion featuring guest speakers from the region.

The series kicks off with Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre’s documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, which explores the life and career of the Serbianborn performance artist as she prepares for a major retrospective of her provocative and sometimes-controversial work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The film won the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Sarajevo Film Festival, while earning nominations as Best Documentary from the Independent Spirit Awards, the Gotham Film Awards and Satellite Awards, as well as a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

On Feb. 21, SECCA will screen Pollock (2000), the critically acclaimed drama based on Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga. The film was a labor of love for actor Ed Harris, who also produced, directed and stars as the volatile, complex artist.

Harris earned an Oscar nomination as Best Actor for his performance, and Marcia Gay Harden won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her turn as Pollock’s adoring but long-suffering wife, artist Lee Krasner. A star-studded cast includes Amy Madigan (Harris’ off-screen wife), Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, John Heard, Bud Cort, Tom Bower, Annabelle Gurwitch, Stephanie Seymour and Jeffrey Tambor. Pollock is rated R.

The series continues March 21 with Marion Cajori and  Amei Wallach’s feature documentary Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine (2008), which offers perhaps the most thorough and comprehensive portrait of the artist and feminist Louise Bourgeois. The film features extensive interviews with the artist herself, conducted shortly before her death at age 98 in 2010.

April 18 will feature Terry Zwigoff’s 1994 documentary Crumb, which offers a (very) detailed portrait of noted artist and cartoonist Robert “R” Crumb, creator of Fritz the Cat, as well as members of his family — sometimes in painfully intimate terms.

The film received numerous awards, including Best Documentary from both the National Board of Review and the National Society of Film Critics, yet there was considerable controversy when it wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award — despite being one of the few documentaries to turn a substantial profit during its theatrical run. The film also launched the career of director Zwigoff, who would go on to direct Ghost World (2001) and the box-office hit Bad Santa (2003).

This screening of Crumb, which is rated R, is presented in conjunction with the RiverRun International Film Festival, which runs April 13-22 in Winston-Salem.

On May 16, Julie Taymor’s 2002 adaptation of Frida will be screened. Salma Hayek, also one of the film’s producers, achieved a long-time dream of portraying the iconoclastic artist and earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her performance. Based on Hayden Herrera’s biography, the film received six nominations in all, winning for Best Makeup and Elliot Goldenthal’s Original Score. The film also stars Alfred Molina, Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton (as Nelson Rockefeller), Ashley Judd, Diego Luna, Mia Maestra, Roger Rees and Saffron Burrows, and is rated R.

The series concludes June 20 with writer/director Alison Chernick’s 2006 documentary Matthew Barney, No Restraint, which explores the title artist’s attempts to create his most massive work ever, Drawing Restraint 9, in collaboration with singer/actress Bjork.

Tickets to each screening are $10. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art is located at 750 Marguerite Drive, Winston-Salem. For more information, call 336.725.1904 or visit the official SECCA website: secca.org.

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