Every year between 2003 and 2012, on the first Saturday after the 4th of July, a legion of artists, writers, film and video makers, and their friends and families gathered in a barn outside of a small town in upstate New York, spending the afternoon enjoying each other’s company and good food and drink. After sunset, everyone would take their seats and the One Minute Film Festival,organized and hosted by artists Jason Simon and Moyra Davey,would begin. MASS MoCA’s exhibitionOne Minute Film Festival: 10 Years, opening on Saturday, March 23, 2013, presents a decade of the festival through a sampling of some 600 (very) short films.
The festival’s ten years span the administrations of George Bush and Barack Obama, YouTube (which was founded in 2005, two years after the firstOne Minute Film Festival), and the immense growth of video as an artistic medium. At the festival all the pieces were screened—many without credits—after a potluck supper and before dancing. The event itself stressed social interaction and collaboration rather than the competitive nature of many other film festivals.
Every two years of the festival, Simon and Davey would make a compilation DVD. The exhibition at MASS MoCA will take the same format, grouping festivals chronologically. The first five rooms will be dedicated to the first nine years of the festival,with a sixth room dedicated to year ten. The final year of the festivalwas marked by the production of an “exquisite corpse.”This hour-long film was created by artists each receiving the last second of a previous film and building a new minute based on that brief glimpse. Along with celebrating an atmosphere of open creativity (there are videos submitted by trained filmmakers presented alongside films by children, with no differentiation),attendees all agreed that one of the best features of the festival was that if a particular film didn’t move you, you only had to wait a mere 60 seconds for the next film to commence!
The unique nature of this event was captured by friezein 2007 when the magazine asked critics and curators from around the world to choose what, and who, they felt to be the most significant shows and artists of the previous year. Helen Molesworth, curator at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, responded, “I have biennial fatigue and big survey anxiety. The best show built on this logic (lots of work, lots of artists, competing quality and ideas) that I attended was the annual ‘One Minute Movies’ festival…”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 160-page catalogue featuring stillsfrom all the films alongside testimonials and remembrances written by past participants and festival attendees.