Walker Art Center

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The Renegades: Films from the Collection Selected by Melinda Ward

Part of The Renegades: American Avant-Garde Film, 1960–1973

For the final guest-curated screening held in conjunction with the exhibition The Renegades: American Avant-Garde Film, 1960–1973, former Walker film curator Melinda Ward selects three key works from the Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection.

During her tenure at the Walker, first as the film coordinator (1974–1979) and then as project director of the Learning Museum (1979–1985), Ward had a huge impact on the Twin Cities film scene and helped to shape the Walker’s extraordinary Ruben/Bentson Collection. Though she is currently immersed in the world of radio as the senior vice president of Public Radio International (PRI) Productions, her knowledge and enthusiasm for American avant-garde film has not diminished over the years.

For this program, Ward selected work from the Walker’s collection from three pioneering filmmakers—Kenneth Anger, Bruce Conner and Ernie Gehr. Though their styles are vastly different, all three changed the face of cinema with radically new editing and production techniques. Gehr’s Serene Velocity and Conner’s THREE SCREEN RAY are also featured in the exhibition The Renegades, now on view at the Walker.

Program length 65 minutes.

REPORT by Bruce Conner

Made over the course of three years, Conner utilized television footage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in an attempt to create a film that deals with the death of the president and how it was exploited by the media. 1963–1967, 16mm, 13 minutes.

Scorpio Rising by Kenneth Anger

Through montage and an innovative pop soundtrack, Anger documents an all-male motorcycle gang as they fix and polish their bikes; outfit themselves with leather, skull rings, and chains; and attend a Halloween party. The end result is a meditation on fascism, death, the rituals of religion and American pop culture. 1963, 16mm, 29 minutes.

Serene Velocity by Ernie Gehr

Shooting four frames at a time and then incrementally adjusting the focus on the zoom lens, Gehr transforms a dull institutional hallway into a pulsating image that flashes between two states, near and far. 1970, 16mm, 23 minutes.


Major support to preserve and digitize the Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection is generously provided by the Bentson Foundation.

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