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Sharon Lockhart’s ‘Pine Flat’ at Harvard, Frank Gehry and Matthew Barney Films at the MFA
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  August 17, 2006

Sharon Lockhart, Jessie
Childhood in America comes under the artist’s gaze in Pine Flat ,the fifth film by Sharon Lockhart, and it’s examined with precision and attention to detail. This Los Angeles–based artist has won international recognition for films and photographs that capture seemingly unremarkable moments of everyday life, as well as for her exploration of the relationship between the two media. Lockhart spent more than three years immersed in the life of pastoral Pine Flat, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a quiet, working-class community where most residents travel to nearby cities to work, leaving their school-age children alone for much of each day. Lockhart spent a year filming these children and the activities — swimming, reading, hunting, playing on a swing — that they devise to amuse themselves. An installation of segments from the film, together with 19 color portraits of the film’s subjects, is on view in “Sharon Lockhart: Pine Flat,” which opens at Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum on August 26. When screenings start up again in September, the Harvard Film Archive will be showing the film throughout the course of the exhibition, in conjunction with a series of related films featuring children.

Pine Flat the film is made up of 12 10-minute segments, half featuring individual adolescents in solitary activities, half showing groups of children interacting. At the Sackler, one 10-minute segment showing an individual and one showing a group, will be presented on a continuous loop each day. The 19 photographs were made following the film’s completion: Lockhart set up her temporary residence in town as an open studio and invited the children to come in as they wished to pose for her still camera. These portraits reveal the cinematic, performative feeling she’s known to bring to her photography, and they contrast with the way her film, which is often full of long takes and static compositions, evokes qualities usually associated with two-dimensional art.

Two films that bump directly up against the visual arts are screening at the Museum of Fine Arts: Sydney Pollack’s Sketches of Frank Gehry and Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9 . Sketches will get its final showing August 20 at 2:15 pm, and if you haven’t caught it yet (or even if you have), what better way to spend a hot Sunday afternoon than watching the famed director of Tootsie and The Way We Were follow his geometry-transcending friend with a video camera? Besides, the screening will be followed by a discussion with Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell. Like Sketches , Drawing Restraint 9 , in which Barney and real-life wife Björk portray tourists in a Japanese port city, played earlier this year at the Kendall Square Cinema, but if once was not enough (Barney . . . Björk . . . how could it be?), there are four MFA screenings, August 24, 26, 27, and 31. Bring your own fermented whale vomit.

“Sharon Lockhart: Pine Flat” at Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge and the Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy St, Cambridge | August 26–November 19 | 617.495.9400 | Sketches of Frank Gehry and Drawing Restraint 9 at Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | $9 for non-members | 617.267.9300

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