In its fourth exhibition of the year, Bergamin & Gomide presents a solo exhibition by the North American artist Bruce Conner, from November 5th to December 20th, bringing together more than 20 artworks along the artist’ career who revolutionized film and video art.
Bruce Conner (1933-2008) produced drawings, assemblage sculptures, paintings, engraving collages and photographs, however it was his films that definitely distinguished the originality of his work, being recognized as one of the most important counterculture figures of the twentieth century. In addition to photographs and drawings, a special structure will be built for the film BREAKAWAY (1966), a kind of box-installation inside the gallery, providing the immersive experience from Bruce Conner’s universe.
In the film that inspired the exhibition’s title, Conner features Toni Basil, her friend, dancer, choreographer and singer, dancing in front of a black background. There, he deploys dizzying camera zooms, stroboscopic effects, and rapid-fire cuts that transform Basil’s choreography into a psychedelic spectacle of pulsating and mesmerizing movement.
According to Basil, the film was born from a collaborative process, a cooperation between the two artists who mixed the avant-garde means of social, sexual and artistic emancipation. It emerged as a hybrid work of dance film or ciné-dance, underground cinema and video art, taking advantage of the utopian aspirations that permeated American pop culture in the 1960’s.
Toni Basil’s career also go beyond her performance in BREAKAWAY. She was recently invited by the filmmaker Quentin Tarantino to choreograph his newly released movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. In an interview for The New York Times, Tarantino declared that he considers Basil the “Goddess of Go-Go,” dance style that was born in nightclubs in the 1960’s.
Simultaneously to “BREAKAWAY” exhibition at Bergamin & Gomide, the IMS Paulista - Instituto Moreira Salles will present a special agenda dedicated to Bruce Conner’s body of work. The program includes talks featuring Michelle Silva of the Conner Family Trust, as well as a retrospective of his filmography highlighting films such as A MOVIE (1958), COSMIC RAY (1961), CROSSROADS (1976), among others.
Bruce Conner was born in 1933, in McPherson, Kansas, United States of America. He began his career in the late 1950’s as a multimedia artist, recognized for his assemblages, surrealist sculptures, avant-garde films, paintings, engravings and drawings.
Connected with the revolutionary and counterculture movements of the twentieth century, such as Beat poets and the punk music scene, he has done groundbreaking works, often using assemblages of existing images and incorporating pop music into his films. His unique aesthetics and experimentalism sense have inspired generations of filmmakers.
Although he had been precursor of the music video genre, called as “the father of MTV,” Conner avoided all classification schemes about his own artistic production, never compromising himself to the mainstream and remaining loyal to his visual and conceptual content.
Bruce Conner left an extensive legacy and held throughout his career several solo and group exhibitions. Recently his body of work was presented in a retrospective show at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMoMA, MoMA in New York and the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía Art Center in Madrid. He passed away at 74 years old, in 2008, in the city of San Francisco, California.