Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 7pm
Early Films by Phil Solomon

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Light Industry presents an evening dedicated to the early works of Phil Solomon, who passed away this year. Lauded as “the greatest filmmaker of his generation” by Stan Brakhage, Solomon emerged in the 1980s as part of a new wave of artists who eschewed the calcified formulas of structural film in favor of the fresh possibilities to be found in montage and at the edges of narrativity. Tom Gunning, in his era-defining 1989 essay “Towards a Minor Cinema,” noted how young filmmakers like Solomon, Peggy Ahwesh, Lewis Klahr, and Mark LaPore embraced the marginal status of the late avant-garde in order to “probe the hieroglyphics of imagery rather than the depths of self.” For Solomon, this often meant locating a private iconography in found footage, which he would meticulously re-edit, chemically treat, and rephotograph with an optical printer. The original materials are thereby transformed—coruscating surfaces that flicker uncannily between legibility and abstraction, suffused with a potent and mysterious new emotional life.

Nocturne, Phil Solomon, 1980, 16mm, 10 mins

Nocturne strongly evokes one of Brakhage's most exquisite films, Fire of Waters (1965). Its setting is a suburban neighborhood populated by kids at play and indistinct but ominous parental figures. A submerged narrative rehearses a type of young boy's nighttime game in which a flashlight is wielded in a darkened room to produce effects of aerial combat and bombardment. A sense of hostility tinged with terror seeps into commonplace movements…Fantasy merges with nightmare, a war of dimly suppressed emotions rages beneath a veneer of household calm…In Nocturne, found footage is worked so subtly into the fabric of threat that its apperception comes as a shock ploughed from the unconscious.” - Paul Arthur

What's Out Tonight Is Lost, Phil Solomon, 1983, 16mm, 8 mins
Preserved by the Academy Film Archive

“Adopting its title from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, What’s Out Tonight Is Lost is an elegiac film sifting through the unrecoverable. The film is a reflecting pool where vision breaks up. The home we recognize is swallowed in the brume, the light barely penetrates; and the yellow school bus steals us away, delivering us into new clouds, embracing fear. The film has a surface of cracked porcelain and intaglio: the allergic childhood skin of cracks and bruises. This is a film of transubstantiations, the discorporation of human forms into embers. Air looms and blossoms into solidity and nearness…I hear it breathing…” - Mark McElhatten

The Secret Garden, Phil Solomon, 1988, 16mm, 17 mins

“No filmmaker reveals the faith in the multiple layers of visual images that the eighties have re-affirmed more than Phil Solomon. Solomon continues the Brakhage tradition of creating a succession of images whose logic comes from a number of sources, rhythmic, formal, and associational, and whose coherence constantly switches from one source to another. As with Brakhage, one must abandon oneself to the trance-like authority of a Solomon film, and be sure-footed enough to follow a structure that relies on overtones as well as melody, on sudden flashes of metaphor as much as narrative line. The Secret Garden is one of Solomon's most exquisite films. As with Thornton and Klahr there is the shadow of a story here, one which deals with the passage from innocence and experience and invokes equally terror and ecstasy…” - Tom Gunning

Remains to Be Seen, Phil Solomon, 1989, 16mm, 17 mins

“In the melancholic Remains to Be Seen, dedicated to the memory of Solomon's mother, the scratchy rhythm of a respirator intones menace. The film, optically crisscrossed with tiny eggshell cracks, often seems on the verge of shattering. The passage from life into death is chartered by fugitive images: pans of an operating room, an old home movie of a picnic, a bicyclist in vague outline against burnt orange and blue…Solomon measures emotions with images that seem stolen from a family album of collective memory.” - Manohla Dargis

Clepsydra, Phil Solomon, 1992, 16mm, 14 mins

“Solomon has evolved his technique so that in his latest work (‘Clepsydra’ - ‘waterclock’) the textures are constantly changing and are often appropriate to each figure in metaphoric interplay with each figure's gestural (symbolic) movement. He has, thus, created consonance with thought as destroyer/creator - a Kali-like aesthetic ‘There is a light at the end of the tunnel’ (Romantic); and it is a train coming straight at us: … (and, to balance such, perhaps, with a touch of Zen) … it is beautiful!” - Stan Brakhage

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.