Anthology Film Archives


May 8 – June 27


Anthology is overjoyed to present a major survey – throughout May and June – of the moving-image work of the one-and-only Charles Atlas. An exceptionally prolific, protean, and inventive artist, Atlas has collaborated for the past fifty years with an extraordinary array of choreographers, dancers, musicians, actors, and performance artists, and has himself occupied a crucial role at the intersection of the worlds of art, film, video, performance, dance, and installation. During the course of his career, he has pioneered the medium of videodance, documented the nightlife and performance scenes of New York City throughout the past several decades, and created some of the most inspired works of installation art in recent memory. Arguably no other single figure has contributed as substantially to so many of the most advanced and important currents in American culture since the 1970s, both as a chronicler, collaborator, and creator.

Atlas’s films and videos have taken so many forms and involved so many collaborations that his moving-image career can only be conveyed through a large-scale series. Indeed, even this 10-program survey represents a partial retrospective: since Anthology focused on Atlas’s seminal collaborations with Merce Cunningham (with whom he collaborated on numerous films beginning in 1975) during our Cunningham centennial screenings in 2019, we’ve chosen to focus on Atlas’s other collaborations and solo works here. Encompassing some of his best-known works (including THE LEGEND OF LEIGH BOWERY, HAIL THE NEW PURITAN, SUPERHONEY, and so on), as well as more rarely-screened pieces such as the various “MARTHA” TAPES, his early films MAYONNAISE, #1 (1972) and NEVADA (1974), his ad campaign for Calvin Klein, and his stereoscopic film TESSERACT 3D (2017), this survey demonstrates the embarrassment of riches contained within Atlas’s dizzyingly inventive and ever-morphing body of work.

“Collaboration is a major aspect of Atlas’s expansive practice. He has collaborated with important figures from the worlds of dance, art, performance, music and theater, including Michael Clark, Merce Cunningham, Leigh Bowery, John Kelly, Marina Abramovic, Anohni, Yvonne Rainer, Fennesz, New Humans (Mika Tajima and Howie Chen), Karole Armitage and Bill Irwin. For Atlas, the theatricality of dance and performance is a point of inquiry into artifice, fiction and reality. After first working in film, Atlas was a pioneer of videodance, collaborating on performance works created specifically for the two-dimensional space, intimate scale and temporality of video. His groundbreaking early works…evolved from a unique collaboration with Merce Cunningham, for whose dance company he was filmmaker-in-residence from 1975 to 1983. Since then, Atlas has worked on numerous international productions for television with choreographers, artists and musicians. In these extravagantly stylized ‘documentary fictions,’ Atlas manifests his fascination with what he terms ‘narrative, psychology, dance and flights of fantasy.’ Typified by a provocative, postmodern performance sensibility and an ironic urban insouciance, Atlas’s works transform performances into vivid time capsules of contemporary culture.” –ELECTRONIC ARTS INTERMIX

Charles Atlas will be here in person for most if not all of the screenings!

Co-organized and co-presented by Electronic Arts Intermix; special thanks to Rebecca Cleman & Karl McCool.

Unless otherwise noted, all the individual film descriptions are from the Electronic Arts Intermix catalogue.

Upcoming Screenings

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