"Falling Lessons", by Amy Halpern

Amy Halpern

Los Angeles-based New York filmmaker, photographer, dancer, archivist and teacher Amy Halpern was unjustly and inexplicably marginalised from the canon of the avant-garde scene of the 1970s. In 2020, the retrospective we dedicated to her at Xcèntric, with the presence of the author, helped to give her work the recognition it deserved. Halpern left us in 2022, a few months after her second visit to our country to assist at (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico de A Coruña. We now pay tribute to her by screening her sole feature film, the enigmatic Falling Lessons.

Up to 200 faces move across the screen alongside other portraits of animals, places and gestures. Although the title talks about falling, the fleeting faces appear and disappear like flashes, in ironically ascending panoramas or travelling shots. The film plays with a formal and synthetic poetry, with collective and abstract protagonism, rhythmic editing and the ingenious use of the flipped lens. Created at the mid-point in her five decades in the profession, Falling Lessons (1991) brings together the essential features of Halpern's own personal style: an economic use of resources and expressive freedom in cinematic language. Here she delves into the mystery of personal and spatial portraiture, into the hypnotic potential of the gaze, as in The Glance (1972) and The Unowned Luxuries #3 (2020). Her soundtrack reverberates over a fleeting view of the image, rhyming with the objects or subjects filmed. These "raptures" or "rhapsodies" of light, in the filmmaker's words, resonate with her silent works Peach Landscape (1973) and Filament (The Hands) (1975). Minimalism comes alive as a result of her mastery of the mechanics of cinema.

Falling Lessons, Amy Halpern, 1992, 16 mm, 64'.

16 mm projection.

Copy from Light Cone.

19 May 2024



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The Auditorium
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5-session pass: € 15 / € 12 Concessions
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