Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 7:30pm
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez's Manakamana

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Manakamana, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, 2013, digital projection, 118 mins

One of the most remarkable works to emerge from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana is a film that, a decade after its premiere, deserves revisiting. The title refers to the Hindu temple in central Nepal dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati, a sacred site whose mountainous setting can be reached via cable car. This ten-minute journey, as it happens, is roughly the same length as a 400-foot roll of 16mm film at 24 frames per second, and from this equivalence an elegant formal structure emerged: 11 uncut portraits, filmed from a fixed position within the car, of pilgrims ascending and descending, seen in the moments just prior to making their offerings, and shortly thereafter. Manakamana brings to mind a number of rather different kinds of moviemaking, from the phantom rides of early cinema to Warhol screen tests, yet it is also entirely distinctive, a project whose apparent minimalism belies the richness and complexity of its character.

“We were drawn in by the conceptual logic that the string of cable cars pulled along on a wire ‘rhymes’ with the frames of 16mm film pulled along through a motion picture camera,” Velez once remarked in an interview. Spray further explained how the pair “became conscious of the parallels between the two technologies, their related evolutions, and the constellation of associations they might produce. There was also the parallel of the frame of the film image and the framing of the landscape by the cable-car windows—both motion pictures—with viewing spectators coming along and marveling at the ride. Filming in a cable car suggests an idea that seems fundamental to the Sensory Ethnography Lab: that culture is always in a process of transformation, on the move.”

Followed by a conversation with Velez.

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.