The Alex Hank Collection and Tarmak22 proudly present REPORT. A highly acclaimed film and deeply felt artwork on the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Bruce Conner (1933 – 2008). Born in McPherson, Kansas, by the late 1950s Conner became a pioneering experimental filmmaker, as well as a notable figure of the American artistic scene and of the counterculture movement in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As most of his fellow Americans in 1963, the young artist was mourning the loss of their president and digesting the news and tensions that derived from the ongoing Cold War. What started as an initiative to report from an artistic point of view on the aftermath of the assassination unfolding in John F. Kennedy ́s native town of Brookline, Massachusetts, eventually became a four year long obsessive project for Conner.
Largely based on stock footage, this film is the 8th and final version, released after four intense years of reworking and coming to terms with the tragic event. The film is divided into two parts. The first recreates the moments of the assassination by the use of experimental assemblage of film media and archival radio transmissions. The second part is Conner’s artistic and critical commentary on this historic event, denoting the artist’s pioneering montage technique and his masterful ability to create new meaning from borrowed and found video footage and sound. This film—originally shot in 16 mm and recently digitally restored—employs visual humour and social criticism while personally mourning Kennedy’s death.
This artwork is presented as the second iteration of a project series by The Alex Hank Collection that seeks to highlight individual works in dialogue with new audiences.This series began in 2020 with the screening of The Parley (2016), a video work by the Danish artist group Superflex.
This exhibition is organised by Tarmak22 in collaboration with Sokoloff + Associates Art Advisors, NY.
Special thanks to the Conner Family Trust. All images ©Conner Family Trust. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.
About the Artist
Bruce Conner (November 18, 1933 – July 7, 2008) was an American artist renowned for his work in film, assemblage, drawing, sculpture, painting, collage, photography, and conceptual pranks. Born in McPherson, Kansas and raised in Wichita, he attended Wichita State and got his BFA from Nebraska University in 1956, where he met and married Jean Sandstedt in 1957 before transplanting to San Francisco.
Initially known for his assemblage, Conner turned to film with A MOVIE in 1958, and other media soon after, with a freewheeling curiosity and resistance to pigeonholing that would last throughout his lifetime. He was an intensely focused artist whose tremendous discipline and skill was sometimes obscured by an irreverent playfulness, and a wildly diverse and frenetic output. Conner achieved much fame but showed little interest in its trappings, often refusing to be photographed, and occasionally not signing his work. For his “Who’s Who in American Art” entry, he sent a notice of his death, and he exhibited a series of his collages under the name of his friend, Dennis Hopper.
In San Francisco, Conner and friends including Joan Brown, Jay De Feo, Manuel Neri, and Wallace Berman were associated with Beat and post-Beat movements, but also formed their own collective, the Rat-Bastard Protective Association. After a two-year sojourn in Mexico and other travels in the mid-1960’s, Conner returned to San Francisco and went into a period of exile from 1967 to 1971, when he quit exhibiting or teaching art. Upon ending this hiatus he returned to more public practice, making some of his most mature films, including CROSSROADS and TAKE THE 5:10 TO DREAMLAND, as well as continuing his work in diverse media.
Despite his efforts to ensure the contrary, Conner’s reputation has only expanded over the years. His contributions to cinema stand among his greatest achievements. Many attribute the birth of the music video to his 1961 film COSMIC RAY, as well as his more direct forays into the form in AMERICA IS WAITING (for David Byrne and Brian Eno) and MEA CULPA (with Devo). A MOVIE has achieved canonicity, and is today taught in introductory film history courses across the world. Key exhibitions include the seminal “2000 BC: The Bruce Conner Story Part II” retrospective at the Walker Art Center, which was expanded upon in the highly lauded “BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE,” organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The survey opened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in July 2016 and traveled to SFMOMA and the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. Conner is today recognized as one of the most important American artists of the 20th century.