Since opening May 27 at the Aspen Art Museum, the “Mountain/Time” exhibition has invited attendees to reconsider time and place through new lenses – not just proverbially but literally: it features image installations in movement, film screenings and artistic performances that address Black and Indigenous geographies and stories.
And the majority of the experiment comes to its local conclusion on 9/11.
For the closing weekend of “Mountain/Time,” the AAM is offering two final screening events on Friday and Saturday at a special location. Friday’s screening will take place at Smuggler Mine from 6-10 p.m., followed by Saturday night’s presentation of short films focusing on the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, which will take place at the AAM.
The museum has partnered with the LA Skins Fest — an annual festival that celebrates Native American cinema and offers multimedia workshops for Native youth — to premiere the UMUT film series on Saturday. The two meetings this weekend are free and open to the public and circulate ideas around the museum’s “Mountain / Time” exhibition.
Friday’s experiential screening at Smuggler Mine will feature three film presentations. Inside the mine, interdisciplinary filmmaker Cauleen Smith presents ‘Gimme Shelter Cineglyphs’. The program takes its title from the same Rolling Stones song, which Smith remixed into what she calls “electric mayhem.”
A renowned multimedia artist, Smith made projections from images that she laser-printed onto 35mm polyester film and then rescanned. By placing these projections in different locations inside the mine, Smith intends to immerse viewers in his installation of moving images, as well as in the geological phenomenon of the mine itself.
Simultaneously, two film programs, curated by AAM’s Anisa Jackson and New York film scholar Michael B. Gillespie, will screen outside Smuggler Mine in response to the site.
All three projects tie into themes that surfaced through the storytelling in “Mountain/Time.” The exhibition has been running since the end of May and the majority of the show ends on September 11.
“Mountain/Time” curator Chrissie Iles — who is curator of Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz at the Whitney Museum of American Art — spoke about the planned Smuggler Mine screening event in May.
In cultivating the Valley’s first-ever moving image exhibit, Iles established early on that she wanted to create a series of film screenings around the exhibit that would engage with “cinema” in forms other than the fixed space of a gallery, she said.
In doing so, Iles and the museum collaborated with other organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond to host experiential screenings throughout the summer, which further exposed artists and community members to the depths of discipline, often centering on Aspen as a sense of place.
“The most important thing for me at the start of a curatorial process is to think about place,” Illes said. “And the problem not only with Aspen, but with the whole valley, is that there is nowhere like that; it’s hard to access, and it has a different sense of time – it’s like an enchanted world of its own.
Fittingly, moving image art is also sometimes referred to as “time-based media”. Friday’s event at Smuggler Mine follows this place-centric intent, as the three cinematic installations examine the mine and the mountain, and their histories and geographies, through very different narratives.
Smith’s “Gimme Shelter Cineglyphs” explores the mine structurally and functionally. She sees burrowing tunnels as a collaborative effort in making cavities, as well as a shelter for people and animals and a space for wayward metals and minerals. Each node in the Smith’s Smuggler Mine facility will observe a different animal that passes through the Colorado region.
Smith’s experiential project stems from his recent engagement with geology in the valley. Through his work, the artist also contemplates the difference between a mine and a cave and arouses a desire to return the mine to the mountain.
Around the same time “Mountain/Time” opened, Smith was embarking on a two-week residency program at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where the artist – who is “fascinated by geology and mountains” , said Iles – had the opportunity to research the geology and ecology of the Roaring Fork Valley.
In collaboration with Anderson Ranch and in collaboration with “Mountain/Time”, Iles and the AAM have invited Smith to create an installation in the mine that will be presented on the last weekend of the exhibition.
“This is a rare opportunity to give artists, and especially an artist like Cauleen – who really cares about this – the opportunity to have such direct engagement,” Iles said.
Gillespie — who is a New York City film professor and author of “Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film” — has also been heavily engaged in the past few months of “Mountain/Time” programming. At Smuggler Mine, he will present “Unspoken Dreams of Light”, a compilation of short films inspired by the central theme of the exhibition, remapping. Gillespie’s project includes films from Sky Hopinka, Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel, Grace Passô and Kevin Jerome Everson, among others.
Jackson’s presentation of the film, titled “unearthed,” locates the mine as a site of capitalist accumulation embedded in histories of racialization, racialized labor, and colonialism. The site-specific installation invites participants to reflect on how mining, among other extractive practices, rearranges geological formations. “Unarthed” includes films from Harun Farocki, Crystal Z Campbell, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman.
From the moving image installations shown at the AAM through this weekend to additional film projects cultivated around the exhibition at various locations across the valley, the international group of artists, curators and scholars involved in the larger message of “Mountain/Time” brought their own stories and storytelling traditions to this place. And in response to this place, they produced immersive time-based experiences and media arts.
“The mountains tell us something; mountains tell us something to do with their own history,” Iles said. “And these works were made in response to this environment and its history.”
The two events this weekend are the last chance for community members to immerse themselves in the message of “Mountain/Time”.
The free Smuggler Mine screening will take place on Fridays from 6-10 p.m. at 110 Smuggler Mountain Road. Participants will be asked to sign a waiver before entering the mine and closed shoes are required. Refreshments and small bites will also be served, and the AAM advises patrons to dress warmly. For more information and to register, visit aspenartmuseum.org.