Big Ears Features Klahr, UT Faculty & Alumni Films
For the third year in a row, the UT Downtown Gallery partnered with the Big Ears Festival to serve as a venue for film programming, while School of Art faculty and alumni were invited to show their video art at another 2018 Big Ears event, the 12-Hour Drone.
Big Ears is a one-of-a-kind, boundary-crossing festival for music, film, and art. It’s been drawing hundreds of eclectic artists and musicians to Knoxville every year since 2009. In 2016, Big Ears was hailed by The New York Times as “the widest-angle music festival in the country, bridging the spaces between the classical tradition, improvised music, electronics, and guitars.”
This year, Big Ears brought Lewis Klahr to Knoxville to present 10,000 Shards of Bliss (the rhythm that forgets itself) at the UT Downtown Gallery. Klahr designed the programming from older and newer short films and curated a playlist for each day of the exhibition. A filmmaker since the mid-70s, Klahr uses found archival material and paper ephemera combined with stop-motion animation and pop music to create films that explore nostalgia, time, and memory.
Films for Big Ears are curated by The Public Cinema, an organization founded by Paul Harrill, a School of Art professor of Time-based arts and Cinema Studies, along with Knoxville-based journalist and critic Darren Hughes. After this year’s edition of the festival, Big Ears was named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine.
Two other Time-based professors, Emily Bivens and John Kelley, along with Christopher Spurgin, a 2017 alumnus of the MFA program in Time-Based Art showed their video work as part of Big Ears’ first 12-hour Drone. Taking place from midnight to noon at The Standard in Knoxville, the performance featured 20 musicians playing 12 hours of uninterrupted sound in shifts, while each artist projected original work behind the musicians for three hours at a time. In his behind-the-scenes interview, drone curator Ben Smith describes the experience of being in the room: “It felt like we were all removed from the real world in some weird sense. Everyone was there to get a sonic bath, away from time.”