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Weintz Art Lecture Series: George Flaherty

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Stanford Department of Art & Art History's J. Fred Weintz and Rosemary Weintz Art Lecture Series presents George Flaherty, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

"For an Imperfecto Cinema: Harry Gamboa Jr.’s Early Video Art between East Los Angeles and Havana"

In 1983, East Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Harry Gamboa Jr. broadcast one of his early video experiments, Imperfecto, on local public access television. The video featured Humberto Sandoval, a sometime collaborator in performance collective Asco, as an unhoused and peripatetic seeker of “the truth” among apathetic family, friends and strangers in a post-Vietnam War, post-industrial city. Accounting for what Chon Noriega calls the “competing geographies” in which Chicano filmmakers operate, this talk explores affinities between Gamboa’s artistic practice and anti-colonial cinemas in Latin America, and Cuban critic Julio García Espinosa’s 1969 manifesto, “For an Imperfect Cinema” in particular. While Imperfecto’s bootstrap aesthetic certainly resonates with García Espinosa’s critique of the anesthetizing sensuousness of Hollywood and European art cinemas, greater attention is paid to his notion of “neurosis” in capitalist culture industries and his goal of democratizing filmmaking. This lens brings into sharper focus the ways Gamboa thematizes the pathological dimensions of coloniality and the anxiety of representation faced by Chicano artists. Gamboa stages an interrogative-creative process that is circuitous, recursive, and even absurd; leading to a space of impasse that might serve as the basis for an Imperfecto Cinema as a critical category.

George Flaherty is an Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS) at the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary art, architecture, and film, centered in Mexico, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and their diasporas in the United States. His first book, Hotel Mexico: Dwelling on the ’68 Movement (University of California Press, 2016) was recognized with the Arvey Award from the Association of Latin American Art. His current book project investigates axes of cultural exchange, affinity, and appropriation between Mexico and Black America in the 1920s and 30s.

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This lecture series is made possible by a generous grant from Fred Weintz and Rosemary Weintz.  

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