Sharon Lockhart: Pine Flat, an exhibition featuring photography and ﬁlm segments from internationally renowned ﬁlm maker Sharon Lockhart, will be presented by the Harvard University Art Museums from August 26 to November 19, 2006. The gallery installation at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum will feature daily screenings of segments from the ﬁlm Pine Flat, as well as 19 portraits of the ﬁlm’s subjects taken by Lockhart. The Harvard Film Archive will also show the ﬁlm in its entirety throughout the course of the exhibition in conjunction with an accompanying series of related ﬁlms featuring children.
Shot over the course of one year, the latest ﬁlm from Sharon Lockhart is set in a small, rural village in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. During a three year period, Lockhart immersed herself in the life of the pastoral, working-class bedroom community. Because of its geographic location and rural setting, the town oﬀers its residents little beyond its topographical beauty, and many of the town’s residents must travel to work in nearby cities, leaving their school-age children alone for long periods of time. Lockhart spent most of her time observing these kids during their parents’ absence. The activities the children devised for themselves, using little more than their natural surrounds, provide the basis for Lockhart’s ﬁlm. More than just an anthropological look at adolescence, Sharon Lockhart: Pine Flat takes advantage of a speciﬁc location, a self-contained village on the edge of the wilderness, to look at a place through its progeny.
The 16mm ﬁlm comprises two one-hour reels, each of which is further divided into six, ten-minute segments. Part one features individual adolescents in solitary activities typical of their rural environment; part two presents groups of children interacting together in activities similarly characteristic of their bucolic setting. None of these activities, such as swimming, reading, hunting, or playing on a swing, would seem to oﬀer inherent dramatic appeal. However, Lockhart’s directorial approach, including foregoing a professional ﬁlm crew in favor of more intimate interaction with her subjects, reveals unexpectedly charged mixtures of pleasure and anxiety in the ﬁlm. For presentation in the gallery, two segments from the ﬁlm, one individual scene and one group scene, will be shown in continuous loops each day on a six day rotation. Thus, the installation reﬂects the relationship between the two parts of the full-length ﬁlm.
The exhibition was organized by Linda Norden, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Harvard University Art Museums, and has traveled to the Sala Rekalde in Bilbao, Spain and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN before coming to Harvard’s Aurthur M. Sackler Museum. The related ﬁlm series was developed by Lockhart with Bruce Jenkins, former Director of the Harvard Film Archive and current Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “Lockhart’s work celebrates the habits and activities most of us fail to register as important,” said Norden. “In her ﬁlm making and photography, Lockhart resists spectacle and dramatization and works with her subjects to stage movements and poses that owe more to the late 1960s dance choreography of artists such as Yvonne Rainer and to painterly composition than to documentary ﬁlm or photography.”
In addition to the ﬁlm, the exhibition will feature 19 color photographs taken by Lockhart over the course of the year following the ﬁlm’s completion. Setting up her temporary residence in the community as an open studio, she invited the children to come in at their will and pose for her still camera. The resulting portraits evoke a sense of performance and oﬀer an illuminating addition to the more elaborately structured and time-based ﬁlm segments. “This exhibition encourages the exploration of the complex relationship between ﬁlm and photography and presents a provocative juxtaposition of the two media in the gallery,” said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums. “In this case, the photographs create an additional dialogue that is both separate from and complementary to the ﬁlm, which itself has been reconceived for gallery presentation.”
The full-length version of Pine Flat and other ﬁlms featuring children will be screened at the Harvard Film Archive over the course of the exhibition. See the HFA Bulletin or www.harvardﬁlmarchive.org for a list of ﬁlms and screen times.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 148-page catalogue produced by Lockhart. Conceived as a photo album, it includes stills from the ﬁlm, all 19 portraits from the exhibition, and text from curator Linda Norden, director of the Walker Art Center Kathy Halbreich, and artist/writer Frances Stark.