STRANGE CULTURE (2007)

Presented by the

A man and a woman in a white room have an intense discussion.

Strange Culture (still), 2007. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy the artist.

Lynn Hershman Leeson’s genre-bending, bio-tech “documentary” starring Tilda Swinton forecasts uncanny similarities to society’s current moment.

Click here to purchase a ticket to STRANGE CULTURE as part of the Roxie’s Virtual Cinema.

April 23–26, 2020

Tickets are sliding scale: $5, $8, or $12! All proceeds to the Roxie!

Alternately taunting and unsettling, Strange Culture tells the story of how one man’s personal tragedy turns into persecution by a paranoid and overzealous government. In 2004, Steve Kurtz (Thomas Jay Ryan), an associate Professor of Art at the State University of New York, Buffalo, was preparing an exhibition on genetically modified food for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art when his wife, Hope (Tilda Swinton), died in her sleep of heart failure. But when paramedics noticed scientific paraphernalia in the home, they alerted the F.B.I.; within hours Mr. Kurtz found himself suspected of bioterrorism, his home quarantined, and his wife’s body removed for autopsy. Lynn Hershman Leeson bends the nonfiction form to her own unconventional will, resulting in a compelling collage of re-enactments, news clips, and interviews that illuminate not only the implications of corporate meddling in the food chain but the insidiousness of just how quickly civilian behavior can garner suspicion.

This program is presented by McEvoy Foundation for the Arts as one of several newly developed programs to continue celebrating the strengths of Bay Area creative institutions and artists while direct access to art and its practitioners is limited due to the current public health crisis. It is co-presented with the Roxie Theater. Hershman Leeson is one of several artists featured in the exhibition Orlando which explores the central themes of Virginia Woolf’s prescient 1928 novel: gender fluidity, limitlessness, and the deep perspective that is earned from a long life. It is guest curated by Tilda Swinton and organized by Aperture, New York. A planned screening at McEvoy Arts of the artist’s films Conceiving Ada (2000) and Teknolust (2003) has been postponed.

A NOTE FROM THE ARTIST: “Like the time when Strange Culture was made, we are in a time in which paranoia, fictitious information and what is called national security have risked the lives of this country’s population and squandered tens of thousands of lives in the process. Information suppression and an invisible virus are shifting the world as we know it. Perhaps this moment is a eulogy to history. The virus has caused us to reverse the direction of who we were. Inadvertently, quarantines have bred virtual connectivity and opened a portal through which we can enter with minimal paraphernalia, a pathway through which we can choose to leave behind past horrors of inhumanity and instead enter an expanded platform where links and surveillance serve as the ground force army, fighting for a different future.”

Lynn Hershman Leeson is an American artist and filmmaker whose work transgresses art, social commentary, technology, and media. Her work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The National Gallery of Canada Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Tate Modern, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and The Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie, Germany. Her films have been exhibited at the Berlin Film Festival; Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; and Toronto International Film Festival. Her work is held in the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; The Hess Collection, Napa; the McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts; the Thoma Art Foundation, Santa Fe; the Tate Britain; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Prix ars Electronica, and Siggraph Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives and works in San Francisco and New York.

 

Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. With Tilda Swinton, Thomas Jay Ryan & Peter Coyote. USA. 75 mins.