Kirsten Johnson's Cameraperson was the last film I watched in 2016, on New Year's Eve, and it was also one of the best. Comprised of footage she has shot both for herself and for countless other documentary filmmakers and then brilliantly edited by Nels Bangerter, Johnson's film shows us the scenes that don't always make it into the final cut of a movie and elucidates the work she does behind the camera. There are so many beautiful and heart-wrenching sequences I can't even begin to list them all here, but I was impressed over and over again with Johnson's courage to go where many people wouldn't dare, and to tell the stories of the marginalized and invisible, especially women. The film is an autobiography as well, not only because she includes home movies of her family but also clips where you hear her disembodied voice talking to herself or engaging with her subjects. In these powerful moments Johnson reveals that she is not only an incredible cameraperson from a technical standpoint, but due to her compassion as well.
Through January 21 - James Sterling Pitt: Points East / Points West at Et al. If you made it out to the Untitled art fair at Pier 70 this last weekend you might have spied a selection of James Sterling Pitt's magnificent painting-sculptures at the Et al./100% booth (amongst the other gems on display there), and if you missed it you have this week yet to see a veritable menagerie of Pitt's pieces in Et al.'s Chinatown space. Pitt pushes further into the third dimension with these most recent works, each one a mesmerizing study of construction and contrast. Though made from wood his pieces often seem weighty as concrete (I fully thought he had moved into ceramics until I looked at his materials list), and Pitt deploys color to masterful effect as well. Et al. will be closed on Friday as part of the J20 Art Strike (resistance!), so make an appointment for a viewing this week or get down there on Saturday during regular gallery hours.
-Curator Glen Helfand's latest group show extravaganza Resistance Training will be opening at Slide Space 123 on the Mills campus Wednesday night, and with artists like Ana Teresa Fernandez, Sarah Hotchkiss, Andrea Bowers, and many more involved it promises to be amazing. -Also Wednesday evening, artist Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo will be giving a talk at Lago Projects about her fantastic solo exhibition there. So thrilled to have this new artist-run space in my neighborhood! -On Friday everyone please take good care of themselves; I am refusing to watch the inauguration myself in a tiny act of cutting off that egomaniac's oxygen. And then Saturday I'll see you in the streets.
Through January 15 - 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips at Berkeley Rep. Depend on a Cornish theater company to present one of the more inventive productions I've seen recently. Kneehigh brings Michael Morpurgo's young adult novel to glorious life in their play by blending in music, puppetry, and some trademark British quirkiness. Set in the tiny seaside town of Slapton during World War II, 946 starts out as a story about young Lily Tregenza and her cat Tips but expands to include a tragic forgotten chapter of military history. The stagecraft is just amazing throughout, with a magical array of props and puppets, and all of the actors seamlessly play multiple roles and take turns on various instruments besides. It's intense going at times, especially in the second half, but it's well worth it.