. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

Still Raining, Still Dreaming: Films & Videos by Phil Solomon

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | October 7, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008, 6pm | Phil Solomon in person!

Phil Solomon w/Mark Lapore, Crossroad (2005). Image courtesy of Phil Solomon.
Phil Solomon w/Mark Lapore, Crossroad (2005). Image courtesy of Phil Solomon.

For over three decades, Phil Solomon’s cinematic alchemy has forged great beauty from images awash in material and emotional grit. Renowned for transforming found footage into molten dreamscapes through chemical and photographic processes, Solomon has recently garnered acclaim for an extraordinary series of videos that turn the imagery from the hyper-violent Grand Theft Auto video game to stunningly poetic ends. Tonight he presents four videos from this series, including Crossroad (w/Mark Lapore, 2005), Rehearsals for Retirement (2007), Last Days in a Lonely Place (2007), and a special preview of the forthcoming Still Raining, Still Dreaming (2008), along with two earlier films, the lush, seething Twilight Psalm III: Night of the Meek (2002), and the staccato Nocturne (1980/89). A preview of his installation, American Falls, which will premiere at the at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Autumn 2009, will also be screened. Co-presented by the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center, which will present a second program of Solomon’s work on Friday, October 10.  Solomon will also present his work with Stan Brakhage as part of the White Light Cinema series at the Nightingale on Saturday October 11.  1980–2008, Phil Solomon, USA, multiple formats, ca 90 minutes.


American Falls

2008, HD Video, 30 min. – loop

A looped 30-minute preview version of a larger, epic “cine-mural” that Solomon will premiere at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Autumn 2009. Inspired by Frederic Church’s sublime 19th-century painting Niagara (in the Corcoran’s permanent collection) and WPA murals of the 1930s, the mesmerizing American Falls employs Solomon’s astonishing cinematic techniques to create an expressive, poetic vision of American history in constant motion. (Description courtesy the Wexner Center for the Arts)


w/Mark LaPore, 2005, DVCAM, 5 min.

Prelude to In Memoriam, Mark Lapore, a series of videos made from the imagery from the video game Grand Theft Auto. “Mark and I made this film for our friend David Gatten, as a prayer, an offering, a “get well soon” card… for all three of us. It was made on the last night that I saw Mark, my best friend of 32 years.”– Phil Solomon

Rehearsals for Retirement

2007, DVCAM, 10 min.

The days grow longer for smaller prizes

I feel a stranger to all surprises

You can have them I don’t want them

I wear a different kind of garment

In my rehearsals for retirement

The lights are cold again they dance below me

I turn to old friends they do not know me

All but the beggar he remembers

I put a penny down for payment

In my rehearsals for retirement

Had I known the end would end in laughter

I tell my daughter it doesn’t matter…

— Phil Ochs, Rehearsals for Retirement

Twilight Psalm III: Night of the Meek

2002, 16mm, 23 min.

In memoriam, Anne Frank. It is Berlin, November 9, 1938, and, as the night air is shattered throughout the city, the Rabbi of Prague is summoned from a dark slumber, called upon once again to invoke the magic letters from the Great Book that will bring his creature made from earth back to life, in the hour of need.

I’m looking at the river,

but I’m thinking of the sea,

thinking of the sea,

thinking of the sea

I’m looking at the river,

but I’m thinking of the sea,

thinking of the sea,

thinking of the sea

— Randy Newman


1980/89, 16mm, 10 min.

Finding similarities in the pulses and shapes between my own experiments in night photography, lightning storms, and night bombing in World War II, I constructed the war at home.

Last Days in a Lonely Place

2007, DVCAM, 20 min.

Farewell my friends

Farewell my dear ones

If I was rude

Forgive my weakness

Goodbye my friends

Goodbye to evening parties

Remember me

In the spring

To work for your bread

Soon you must leave

Remember your families

And work for your children

I don’t need much

and the older I become

I realize

My friendships

Will carry me over

any course of distance

any cause of sorrow

My friends that last

Will dance one more time

with me.

I don’t need words

This, I need.

— Polly Jean Harvey, Before Departure

Still Raining, Still Dreaming

Phil Solomon, forthcoming, DVCAM excerpt


Phil Solomon has been making films since 1975 and is currently Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994 and has exhibited his films in every major venue for experimental film throughout the US and Europe, including 2 Whitney Biennials and three one-person shows at MoMA. He collaborated on three films with his friend and Boulder colleague, Stan Brakhage. Solomon is currently working on additional films in The Twilight Psalms series and a commission from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to create a six- channel digital installation entitled American Falls, currently scheduled to open in the Corcoran rotunda in Fall 2009 (with a preview set for Oklahoma City in September, 2008). Solomon’s recent Grand Theft Auto series has received numerous awards and was named in the Top Ten experimental films of the year by the Village Voice. He has also begun work on a book entitled A Snail’s Trail in the Moonlight: Conversations with Brakhage, transcriptions of several years of Brakhage’s film salons.


Michael Sicinski on Phil Solomon’s recent videos (Cinema Scope).