"If Films Could Smell": Roddy Bogawa Featured in Retrospective at MoMA

Still from Roddy Bogawa's "I Was Born But..."

Still from Roddy Bogawa’s “I Was Born But…”

This week, The Museum of Modern Art presents If Films Could Smell, a retrospective program of films by Roddy Bogawa (2000 Film/Video). The exhibition features 14 films ranging from experimental shorts to narrative features. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bogawa studied art and sculpture and played in punk bands before turning to film. In his youth, Bogawa struggled with a desire to assimilate until the punk scene gave him a way to truly express himself, and the DIY punk aesthetic continues to influence his work.
Bogawa’s work explores internal conflict, the relationship between individuals and their environment, and how identity is shaped by culture and history. He casts non-actors and actors side by side and layers his stories with metaphors, abstract material, and multiple narrative voices. His feature-length films, a unique blend of experimental and narrative styles, range from loosely (Some Divine Wind) and strictly (I Was Born, But …) autobiographical to science fiction (Junk) to documentary (Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis).
Bogawa’s Creative Capital-supported project, I Was Born But…, screens on Friday September 20 and Monday, September 23 (both screenings at 7:00pm). The film combines elements of autobiography, documentary and narrative to explore the abstract notion of assimilation and the inherent contradictions of those born into the ‘melting pot’ culture of America. Traveling from New York to Los Angeles to Hawaii and back again, Bogawa reflects on his formative years as an artist and an Asian American within the context of the LA punk scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s. The screening of I Was Born But… on September 23 will include a live musical accompaniment by Chris Brokaw, followed by a discussion with Bogawa.
Roddy Bogawa: If Films Could Smell” runs at the Museum of Modern Art September 18-23, 2013. The exhibition was organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.

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