Artists Space

Jeff Preiss and Union Gaucha Productions

Screenings & Discussion
November 20, 2015, 7pm

Filmmaker Jeff Preiss's long-term engagement with Union Gaucha Productions has encompassed the production of collaborative work, as well as sharing with Nicolás Guagnini and Karin Schneider an involvement in the co-operative exhibition space Orchard, which operated in the Lower East Side of New York between 2005 and 2008. This evening of screenings and conversation between the three artists, dedicated to Preiss's work, draws on these exchanges among others and includes the presentation of three films: the early 8mm film Boy Town (1987); Twins (2001), a 16mm film produced by Guagnini and Schneider with Preiss; and the premiere screening in 24fps HD video of Part 1 of STOP (2012), Preiss's feature-length chronicle distilled from footage shot between 1995 and 2011.

Close-up photo of a person with red hair, leaning against a wall while looking away from the camera.
Jeff Preiss, still from STOP, 2012. 16mm film transferred to digital video. [Close-up photo of a person with red hair, leaning against a wall while looking away from the camera.]

Throughout the 1980s, Preiss carried a standard 8mm Bolex camera and practiced the discipline of shooting film every day, hovering at the edge of home-movie sentimentality and in-camera techniques synonymous with experimental film culture. While never filming with the strict intention of producing a movie, Preiss would in hindsight find groups of reels with a consistent atmosphere, which became distinct works. Of the films made this way, Boy Town turned out to be the most prophetic – organized around the filmmaker's daily routine on the Lower East Side, it documents the site of several future projects.

Twins is structured around two sets of footage. The first was shot by Guagnini and Schneider in Lower Manhattan in September 2001, both before and in the direct aftermath of 9/11; the second, filmed by Preiss, was shot in the period after the attack on the Twin Towers – it focuses largely on an area around the West Side Highway, close to his home, a route taken by trucks transporting debris from Ground Zero. Preiss’s response to Guagnini and Schneider’s assembly was to use it as an editing score so that the two sections would be durational twins. The combined film pivots around the opening images taken by Guagnini and Schneider of the mirrored bridge connecting the North Tower with 7 World Trade Center. The transition of meaning in this footage in the moment of destruction of the towers, is echoed in the diaristic weight of material shot after 9/11, pervaded with a sense of anxiety and absence.In its entirety, STOP is comprised of four half-hour programs, distilled down from 2,500 100ft camera rolls of 16mm film. Shot over a seventeen-year period and edited in 2012, the images are of Preiss's own life, and the alternating subjects of family, friends and travel follow the strict chronology of a singular camera roll. Some subjects recur while others exist as discrete episodes. Yet strikingly all serve as the background to STOP's central subject of identity, reflected in the home-movie protagonist of Preiss's child, whose gender self-determination is documented across the film, as if in waves.

Seen together, the films Boy Town, Twins and STOP (Part 1) form a narrative of Lower Manhattan and the looming affects of 9/11, a time-loop occurring in which formal aspects of Twins pre-empt the editing of STOP, while part one of the latter film ends with the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Jeff Preiss is a filmmaker living in New York. During the eighties he became involved in the production of experimental cinema; work from this time was included in Big as Life, a History of 8mm at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998. Through much of the eighties he was co-director of the pioneering Lower East Side Film series Films Charas.

In 1984 he traveled to Berlin to shoot the Rosa Von Praunheim produced vampire film, Der Bis. In 1987, Preiss was invited by photographer Bruce Weber to be Director of Photography on a series of short films and two feature documentaries, Broken Noses and Let’s Get Lost — the latter winning the Venice Film Festival Critics Award and an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. After three years of collaborating with Weber, Preiss’ film career began to include directing commercials and music videos (clips for Iggy Pop, Malcolm McLaren, REM, B52s, Mariah Carey / Nike, Coke, Sony, etc) and in 2014 the feature film Low Down. In 1995 he became a partner at Epoch Films. During this period he continued to shoot experimental projects and completed a series of video installations in venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art, Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville Paris, Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam, MediaCity 2000 in Seoul Korea, and The Pompidou Center. Preiss was a founding member of the co-operatively run Lower East Side exhibition space Orchard and currently serves on the board of Light Industry.

Union Gaucha Productions is supported by the Friends of Artists Space and the Union Gaucha Productions Exhibition Supporters Circle: Miguel Abreu; Bortolami Gallery; and Begum Yasar, Dominique Lévy Gallery.