Ballroom Marfa Art Fund


Artists’ Film International 2015: Full Schedule!

6 Nov 2015

AFI 2015 Poster

The complete schedule for Artists’ Film International 2015 is now available. The full series of films – including work from Serbia, Afghanistan,Argentina, Italy, Vietnam, Turkey, Poland, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Norway, and the United Kingdom – will be screenings on Saturday, November 14 at the Crowley Theater here in Marfa.


The drop-in screenings run from 10a-6p,with new cycles beginning at: 10:10am,12:30pm,and 2:50pm.


The featured screening of short films by Brigid McCaffrey takes place later that night, with doors at 7pm and screenings commencing at 7:30pm.

Morning screenings will feature free coffee from Do Your Thing and pastries by Ginger Hillery. In the afternoon we’ll have gratis popcorn and beer from Big Bend Brewing Co.

And then please join us on Sunday, November 15 from 1-3pm for a geology walk and conversation at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute in Fort Davis, Texas.

The walk will be led by Ren Lallatin,
the subject of McCaffrey’s film 2013 film Paradise Springs, along with Sul Ross geology lecturer Jesse Kelsch.

More information on the AFI 2015 event page!

“Movie Mountain (Méliès)” in the Hudspeth County Herald

20 Feb 2014

Movie Mountain (Méliès), 2011 Production still High definition video with sound

Movie Mountain (Méliès), 2011
Production still
High definition video with sound

Drew Stuart, editor of the Hudspeth County Herald, writes about the 2011 installation of Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler’s Movie Mountain (Méliès) at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York. The film documents the forgotten history of an otherwise unremarkable geographic feature outside of Sierra Blanca, and Stuart speaks with John Elder, one of the Hudspeth County residents participating in the project. Movie Mountain (Méliès) will screen alongside 2009’s Grand Paris Texas and the premiere of the Ballroom Marfa-commissioned Giant as part of Sound Speed Marker, opening here in Marfa on February 28, 2014.

From the January 28, 2011 edition of the Herald

Featuring Sierra Blanca Residents, Movie Mountain Film Screens in Manhattan

This month and next a group of Sierra Blanca-area residents are making their presence felt almost 2,000 miles, in a rather unlikely location: a gallery in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Méliès, a film by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, opened at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery Jan. 8, and screenings will continue through Feb. 5. The film focuses on Movie Mountain, an unassuming peak northeast of Sierra Blanca; the film uses conversations with local residents to explore that peak’s somewhat shadowy connection to the silent-movie era.

Hudspeth County residents included in the 24-minute movie include David Armstrong, Kit Bramblett, John Elder, Tom D. Ellison, Gary Jennings, Ben Lowry, Julio Marta, Sara Marta, Tom Neely, Christina Ramirez and James Rush. The New York Times printed a positive review of the film on Jan. 13, describing it as “beautifully made.”

Located on old McAdoo ranch land, the peak has been known as Movie Mountain for many decades. According to local lore, a silent-film crew shot footage at the hill in the early part of the 20th century. Local memories of the filming are scant on details, and footage from a film at Movie Mountain has not been found or identified.

An Alix Pearlstein Primer

18 Jul 2013

Some background reading on Alix Pearlstein for those of you still cramming for Ballroom’s Friday opening of our installment in the Artists’ Film International series. Click here for all the details.

From the December 2012 issue of Artforum:


From “The Nothing Act”, a profile of Alex Pearlstein’s recent work in the April 2013 issue of Art in America:

The circling camera of The Drawing Lesson was a device Pearlstein also used for her 2008 show at the Kitchen. Having created the four-channel video After the Fall in the venue’s black box theater downstairs, she then showed the piece in the white box gallery upstairs, alluding to the differing modes of performance in theater and art. Filmed using a set of four cameras, the video first shows a couple on the verge of having sex, and then the interplay between two groupings of actors, one in pink-and-red costumes and the other in gold-and-black. A couple of the actors feign injury from altercations. The way the actors are divided by costume and actions harkens back to Pearlstein’s earlier, more allegorical work. But the constant observation of the actors by the camera, as well as the greater immediacy of their connection with the viewer, makes the work feel more elemental. Building on such effects, Pearlstein went on to adapt the premise of the musical A Chorus Line (the 1975 play and 1985 film) for her video Talent (2009). A Chorus Line, which ran for over 6,000 performances, setting a Broadway record, is about actors auditioning for parts in a new musical. They laugh, cry, sing, dance and tell heartbreaking stories about themselves and their careers. Pearlstein stripped the musical of its songs and dialogue, leaving only the wondrous, spontaneous ephemera of actors at an audition: waiting, hopeful, bored or yearning for attention. At one point they share a loaf of bread. They turn their acting personas on and off and mingle occasionally, though they mostly stay in line as the camera moves in a parallel track back and forth across them.

Continue reading

And finally, an excerpt from a Q&A between Pearlstein and John Pilson in the Winter 2013 issue of BOMB:

JP You’re an artist who has not become all consumed by video, but who sees the opportunity of it containing everything. I remember asking you for advice about how to edition things. I was feeling a little insecure about DVDs, thinking that I had to make nice boxes for them or something. You set me straight, “You have absolutely nothing to make up for. Everything you have to say has been put into that video. Nothing is required to make it more of an object.”

AP I’m glad I said that.

JP Those anxieties never exactly go away, but what you said really helped. It also seems completely in line with your work because it never points outside of itself. You rarely seem to be imitating anything: your videos don’t look like movies or TV shows, and they’re not cinematic, necessarily. Everything in them is active: the camera, ideas about performance, acting, figures, and space. Everything is competing for our attention. Anybody using the moving image has to contend with genre. With TV, you could measure in milliseconds how long it takes to know what you’re looking at: the news, porn, a documentary, or a reality show. Video artists have to contend with that, but they also have a great opportunity to question the assumed passivity of the viewer.

AP I consciously evade genre. Although, there are moments that may suggest a genre, say sci-fi in Light (2012) or suspense in Distance (2006)—but the suggestion is misleading, impure, and it doesn’t hold.

JP One does get the sense in your work that you’re scrutinizing something, or many things at once. I’m curious about what those things are?

AP The center point of what I’m thinking about right now is the affective space and the fundamental relationship between the camera, the viewer, and the subject—and what activates it. Camera movement, positing the camera as a viewer, and the gaze from the subject to camera can activate this. Light and sound can activate that space too. In both works up now at On Stellar Rays—The Drawing Lesson (2012) and Moves in the Field (2012)—a powerful light and a shotgun mic are mounted on the camera. As the camera nears, the subjects become very brightly lit, almost blown out, spotlighted, and you can hear their breath. These elements act to implicate the viewer.

Keep reading in BOMB.


The opening reception for Artists Film International — Alix Pearlstein takes place Friday, 19 July 2013 from 6–8pm. There will be an exhibition walk-through with Alix Pearlstein on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 10am. All events are free and open to the public at Ballroom Marfa.

An Introduction to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

12 Jun 2013


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song screens at 8pm on 12 June 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

Note: For this screening, viewers under 17 will require an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is Melvin Van Peebles third movie, which he wrote, directed, produced, composed music for and starred in. Dedicated to “all the sisters and brothers who had enough of the man,” the film follows a young African American man on his flight from white authority. No studio would agree to fund the film, so Van Peebles financed it independently, shooting over a 19-day period, performing his own stunts and several unsimulated sex scenes. Sweet Sweetback is hailed as the beginning of blaxpoloitation as a genre and Van Peebles refused to submit the film to the all-white MPAA ratings board for approval. His opinion was that they were not a jury of his peers and they’d been approving crippling images of people of color for years, so why let them dictate his cinematic agenda? In the end, the film received an X-rating and Van Peebles made T-shirts that read “Rated X by an all white jury,” and incorporated it into his marketing campaign.

In the book Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song: A Guerilla Filmmaking Manifesto, Van Peebles recounts that the idea for the film materialized during his first soul-searching and auto-erotic trip to the Mojave Desert. Looking out at the at an endless row of electric pylons sandwiched by sky and land, he thought it through:

An Introduction to The Brother from Another Planet

5 Jun 2013

The Brother from Another Planet screens at 8pm on 5 June 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

An Introduction to John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet

Last week’s film, Space Is the Place, extolled the virtues of a transcendent science fiction aimed at elevating the black population beyond its earthbound social state to the forgotten and immortal path beyond the stars through music. This week’s film, The Brother from Another Planet, inverts Sun Ra’s Afro-futurist and escapist rhetoric, offering a parabolic albeit comedic exploration of life in Harlem in 1984.

Written, directed and edited by independent filmmaker John Sayles, The Brother from Another Planet stars Joe Morton as an escaped slave from outer space, who resembles a black human being everywhere except in his feet. He lands in the ocean off of Ellis Island and blankly makes his way to Harlem where he must quickly learn about an abstract monetary system, class struggle and racial divide without using language, as he cannot speak. Sayles’ choice to make him mute turns the brother into a sort of mirror for society and leads to nuanced satire on immigration and assimilation.