OKC VeloCity | Explore cinema in new ways at OK Contemporary's SEEN/UNSEEN festival

Explore cinema in new ways at OK Contemporary's SEEN/UNSEEN festival

By Staff Reports / Member News / May 6, 2019

Presenting a diverse sampler of experimental and avant-garde filmmaking styles, SEEN/UNSEEN: A Festival of Experimental Film invites viewers to sit back, let go of their expectations and open themselves to enjoying cinema in new ways.

Held May 9-11 at Oklahoma Contemporary’s Fairgrounds location, SEEN/UNSEEN will immerse audiences in a curated selection of nearly 40 experimental films, ranging from the early works of groundbreaking filmmakers Sara Kathryn Arledge, Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage to current works by established and emerging artists.

Each night culminates in a live-on-stage conversation or performance by special guests: SEEN/UNSEEN curator Kim Voynar; filmmakers Vanessa Renwick, Sabine Gruffat and Brent Green; and musician Brendan Canty. The festival is one of the final programs planned at the Fairgrounds, before Oklahoma Contemporary opens its new arts center at Northwest 11th Street and Broadway Avenue in January.

In addition to the evening screenings, Animation is Art offers a free, family-friendly program 1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 11. Oklahoma Contemporary’s Second Saturday is a community- and family-focused day of art talks, hands-on art making and gallery adventures for visitors of all ages.  

“Part of Oklahoma Contemporary’s mission is to expand the understanding of what art is and what art can do,” says Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis. “Through multiple influential and new works, conversations with filmmakers and a special live performance to close out the weekend, SEEN/UNSEN will encourage us to imagine new possibilities for the moving image.”

So what can viewers expect?

“They should expect the unexpected,” says curator Voynar, who recently won deadCenter Film’s Oklahoma Film ICON award. “Experimental cinema is not what you see at the multiplex. Some of it has what you might recognize as ‘narrative.’ Some does not have narrative in any sense of the word and is meant to tap into and evoke visceral, emotional response.”

CEO and chief imaginator of WonderTek Lab (a Seattle-based creative producing partner in the VR/360 storytelling and digital contemporary art space), Oklahoma native Voynar has been a film critic, film festivals editor and frequent juror, panelist and moderator on the international film festival circuit for a decade.

“Audiences in OKC have way more opportunity to explore good, diverse and interesting cinema than I ever did growing up here, yet experimental film remains, largely, an underseen and underappreciated genre,” she said. “I hope that (SEEN/UNSEEN) is well-received, and that it opens the door for bringing more experimental arts programming to OKC audiences. I really do believe Oklahomans are just as smart and sophisticated as cinema fans anywhere else, and that if there's avant garde cinema programming available, they'll come out for it and grow to really appreciate it.” (More from the curator in a Q&A here.)

Each night of SEEN/UNSEEN is themed: Cinematic Disruption on Thursday, Breathing Room on Friday and Animation as Art on Saturday. Artists Renwick and Gruffat will wrap up Thursday’s and Friday’s screenings, respectively, with a conversation with Voynar. Saturday night's program will end with a performance of Green’s A Brief Spark Bookended by Darkness with live music accompaniment by Canty (Fugazi, The Messthetics).

Tickets are $15 each Thursday or Friday and $25 Saturday; a three-day pass is $40. Evening screenings begin at 7:30 and are most likely appropriate for audiences 13+. Patrons who are 21+ can enjoy a drink before (and during) the show -- a wine and beer bar will open at 6:30 each evening. Drink bracelets can be purchased on site.

In addition to the evening screenings, Animation is Art offers a free, family-friendly program 1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 11. Oklahoma Contemporary’s Second Saturday is a community- and family-focused day of art talks, hands-on art making and gallery adventures for visitors of all ages.  

SEEN/UNSEEN is the latest installment in Oklahoma Contemporary’s Art+Tech series, which explores creative works at the intersection of art, science and technology through camps and workshops, exhibitions, installations, films and performances.

“Through exhibitions like CODED_COUTURE, camps like Creative Robotics and installations like Whiteout, we’ve seen the potential of artistic practice fused with technological innovation to ignite imaginations,” Davis says. “With our new location in the Innovation District, we think Art+Tech will inspire new forms of creative expression and spark unique collaborations.” 

 

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