Walker Art Center

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A Renegade’s Influence: Films from the Collection Selected by Sally Dixon

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

The third in a series of free monthly guest-curated screenings held in conjunction with the exhibition The Renegades: American Avant-Garde Film, 1960–1973, this evening features some of the most memorable works by filmmakers who Sally Dixon fostered during her time at the Carnegie Museum of Art and Film in the Cities as well as several rare avant-garde film prints she donated to the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection in 2004.

One of the great champions of American avant-garde film, Dixon began her career in 1970 when she established the film department at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. From 1970 to 1975, she brought avant-garde filmmakers such as Hollis Frampton, Stan Brakhage, Bruce Baillie, Jonas Mekas, Robert Breer, and Kenneth Anger to the museum to screen and discuss their work. Dixon’s curatorial approach went beyond screenings to help foster production by providing access to equipment and securing filmmakers’ admission to unlikely locations, including an operating room to film an open heart surgery and a morgue. Dixon also appeared in a number of their films.

During her time at the Carnegie, she toured Europe twice via the United States Information Agency (USIA) to screen American avant-garde films. Later, Dixon moved to St. Paul to work at Film in the Cities (FITC), a media arts center dedicated to film exhibition, education, and production, where she brought many of the same important filmmakers to the Twin Cities area.

Program length 63 minutes.

Lemon* by Hollis Frampton

In a single shot, Hollis Frampton animates a flawless, dimpled lemon in one of Sally Dixon’s most cherished films, Lemon. The work is also on view in the gallery as part of the exhibition The Renegades: Avant-Garde Film, 1960–1973. 1969, 16mm, 8 minutes.

Apparatus Sum by Hollis Frampton

While Dixon worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art, she helped Frampton get admission into the morgue at the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical School to shoot Apparatus Sum. He described it as: “A brief lyric film of death, which brings to equilibrium a single reactive image from a room of cadavers.” 1972, 16mm, 3 minutes.

LMNO by Robert Breer

Visions of goldfish, joggers, airplanes, croquet balls, hammers, police men, and bananas are brought to life in this lyrical animation by Robert Breer, a filmmaker known for his innovative experiments with color, texture, motion, and a range of animation techniques. 1978, 16mm, 10 minutes.

Dream Sphinx Opera* by Roger Jacoby

Dixon appears alongside actor and Warhol superstar Ondine as blissful 19th-century lovers in Roger Jacoby’s first home-processed film, shot in Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory. 1974, 16mm, 7 minutes.

CROSSROADS by Bruce Conner

Constructed with archival footage taken from 27 different cameras documenting the underwater atomic explosion at Bikini Atoll in July 1946, Bruce Conner’s CROSSROADS is a peaceful meditation on war and destruction. This work is among Dixon’s favorite films. 1976, 35mm, 36 minutes.

* Denotes titles donated to the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection by Sally Dixon.


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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