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Reverberations #1
Robert Fenz

Crossings, Robert Fenz

Camden Arts Centre, London
6 August 2008 | 6.45–8.45pm
Free, to reserve call 0207 4725500
Nearest tube: Finchley Road or Hampstead

Reverberations is a new series of events and workshops where six international moving image artists trace lines of influential thought through their practice.

In the first event in the series, American artist Robert Fenz will focus on the enduring importance of improvisation in his work. Fenz's films are neither purely non-fiction, nor abstract; but instead occupy a personal and lyrical space relative to both. His starting point is often a particular person or place, and from there he works intuitively to ‘reflect a deeper understanding of the human condition’ using the formal aspects of film. The event is presented in dialogue with Camden Arts Centre’s Chantal Akerman exhibition, an artist with whom Fenz has worked as cinematographer.

Improvisation is of utmost importance to the way Fenz works, particularly in relation to the context of jazz music, where players practice and study extensively in order to be prepared to create ‘in the moment’. To illustrate these ideas he will be joined in dialogue with one of his teachers, the acclaimed American composer and musician Wadada Leo Smith, who will also perform live improvised trumpet to two of his films.

Robert Fenz is one of the most original young filmmakers working in and against the avant-garde tradition today. He is currently completing an ambitious work that engages the cinematic legacy of pioneering documentarian, Robert Gardner. Fenz was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004, and lived in Berlin in 2006 as part of the DAAD Artist in Residence Program. His film Crossings is included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Fenz studied filmmaking with Peter Hutton and James Benning and music with Wadada Leo Smith.

Wadada Leo Smith is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and master improvisationalist whose forty-year career has included performances and recordings with legendary musicians Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Jack Dejohnette and Cecil Taylor. An influential composer and teacher of African American Improvisation at Cal Arts, Smith is also known for his work developing a unique music notation system and compositional theory known as "Ankhrasmation."



Meditations on Revolution, Part IV: Greenville, MS
Robert Fenz, 2003, 16mm, b/w, silent, 29 min
A study of a boxer in ritual, ceremonious training. The act of training comes to symbolize the revolution a single person can make of his life and an attempt to transform the conditions of those around him; the boxer is a selfprofessed former delinquent who founded a gym for his community's youth.

Robert Fenz, 2007, 16mm, colour, sound, 10min
Crossings is an abstract portrait of the border wall. Both sides are confronted. The film is a short installment on a larger project that investigates insularity in both geographical and cultural terms. It isalso my short reflection on From the Other Side, a film I worked on in 2002 by Chantal Akerman. – Robert Fenz


Improvising sound and image in non fiction film:with Robert Fenz & Wadada Leo Smith
Light Reading series 8:Neil Henderson / Evan Parker



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