This is the first film to delve into the work of the renegade 1970s art/architecture collective Ant Farm, best known for its iconic land-art piece Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX. Radical architects, video pioneers, and mordantly funny cultural commentators, the Ant Farmers created a body of deeply subversive work that questioned everything by posting a set of creative and comedic alternatives. Combining futuristic notions gleaned from Buckminster Fuller and NASA with lo-fi production methods; utopian visions with a love of trashy backyard Americana; and a respect for “high” intellectual ideas with an irreverent, often crass sense of humor, Ant Farm’s work was quintessential American in its ethos and methodology and emblematic of a period in American history that continues to captivate and shape modern culture. As architects, the Ant Farmers designed “The House of the Century,” a ferrocement residence of organic shapes near Angleton, Texas, and they promoted inflatable structures as affordable, anticonsumerist options for shelter. The Ant Farmers were also video art pioneers whose work offered devastating critiques of the mass media. Media Burn (1975) propelled a Cadillac through a wall of flaming televisions and The Eternal Frame (also 1975) reenacted and refilmed the Kennedy assassination in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza. Incorporating archival video, new footage shot over the past nine years and computer animation based on period architectural sketches, this multilayered film considers Ant Farm’s significance in today’s neoconformist culture and its impact on the artists and designers of the future. “What we were trying to do was the ultimate form of architecture, which was predicting how society would use space, land, and time,” said Curtis Schreier of Ant Farm.
A Q&A panel with Ant Farm founders Chip Lord and Curtis Schreier and directors Laura Harrison and Beth Federici will follow the film, plus a wine and cheese reception amidst the student-designed/Ant Farm-inspired inflatables in the Architecture School atrium hosted by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center and the University of Houston College of Architecture. Special thanks to Dean Mashburn, Andrew Vrana and Joe Meppelink.
About Beth Federici
Beth Federici is a filmmaker, educator, and media activist. Most recently she codirected/produced the documentary “Neither Here Nor There,” which documents a Bosnian refugee family resettling in Missouri while struggling to come to terms with the past they left in war-torn Srebrenica. She currently works as a freelance producer/editor in New York City.
About Laura Harrison After eight years as an editor on French feature films, Laura returned to the U.S. to complete an master of arts degree in documentary film production at Stanford University. Laura’s documentary Secret People, about leprosy in America, was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2000. In addition to making films about a diverse range of subjects, Laura teaches film history in Houston.
Founded with support by Aurora, Cinema Arts Festival Houston, November 11-15, 2009, is a groundbreaking and innovative film and multimedia arts festival celebrating the vitality and diversity of the arts in Houston, enriching the city's film and arts community, and featuring films by and about artists. http://www.cinemartsociety.org/