Few Denver cultural organizations have been as cautious through the pandemic as Collective Misnomer. While bars and restaurants are packed, galleries and venues are back and most movie theaters have returned, Denver's nomadic microcinema has yet to have an in-person event. But that's about to change.
Artist Adán La Garza, curator of the series, was an early adopter to virtual screenings, offering MFA students who had lost their graduation shows to COVID-19 shutdowns an online space to exhibit their short films. Last summer, he programmed a full season of movies online, paying artists along the way.
This weekend, Collective Misnomer will finally host its first in-person screening since the pandemic hit (a showing of a program called Making Taste 3 slated for last month at the Clyfford Still Museum was canceled because of bad weather, and was just broadcast online). But while La Garza is planning additional in-person events this summer, he's still ensuring that audiences have access by also running the series virtually.
"We expect our audience to respect the distance boundaries of others (keep 6 feet y’all) and honor the fact that we are still in a pandemic," he writes on the Collective Misnomber website. "If you’re not vaccinated STAY HOME. If you feel sick STAY HOME. If you wanna stay home STAY HOME."
“I really don't want to put people at risk," explains De la Garza, the sole force behind the scrappy operation that has won Best of Denver awards for its first-rate programming. "But I also don't know that online screenings are what people want, either."
On Friday, July 16, at 9 p.m., the second — and first in-person — screening in his summer series will grace the wall outside the Clyfford Still Museum, which has ramped up its exhibitions of video art over the past year. Young Documents includes works by three artists who have reflected on the everyday experiences of young people. The program runs thirty minutes and will loop twice.
The first short, “Super Fresh Guys,” is a re-edited version of a videotape of teen antics, likely from the ’90s or early 2000s, that artist Carsita Williams found in a thrift-store bin while road tripping through the Southwest. A preview of the film shows, in muted tones, a dizzying close-up of someone’s inflamed ankle, displayed from all angles to the camera. The title was taken from the label that was scrawled on the original videotape.
Next in the lineup is Sophie Day’s “Last Drag,” a compilation of shots the photographer took when she was eighteen and had returned home to New York City from college. The film captures Day meeting friends and going out. “There is a heaviness and loneliness beneath the fun and partying that is being shown,” Day writes in an artist statement. The film documents a transitional phase in a young person’s life and the emotional tone of that time.
Finally, Michael Lucid’s documentary “Dirty Girls,” filmed when the artist was a senior in high school, centers on a group of female teenage punks, known by the rest of the school as “dirty girls,” who confront their adversaries and bullies.
De La Garza has not settled on the content of the entire summer series, but it promises to be a fascinating reflection of ideas he's focused on and wants to reflect on.
“Sometimes it’s stuff that I want to prove myself wrong on — finding value in things that I think are maybe overused, like this obsession with beauty and art," he explains. "I’m like, okay, well, can there be beautiful art that I actually enjoy — or is it all just sour, vapid, annoying masturbatory artwork?”
Collective Misnomer's Young Documents screens outside the Clyfford Still Museum, 1250 Bannock Street, at 9 p.m. Friday, July 16. The screening is free, though donations are encouraged. For more information, go to the Collective Misnomer website.
Correction: An earlier version of this story used the wrong title for "Dirty Girls." We regret the error.
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