Marnie Weber has been a performer since her 1980's stint with the downtown LA art punk band The Party Boys. Since then, her performances and music have increasingly evolved as integral to her installation, sculpture and film. Her most enduring band The Spirit Girls, based on the idea of adolescents who die young but return to the world to pursue unfinished business, performed regularly but most often in connection with the presentation of her visual art.
"The Red Nurse and the Snowman" by Marnie Weber
Photo by Jim Shaw
Now LA Filmforum is presenting ten films that she has made over the past twenty years and, just as exciting, they are being shown at the the Velaslavasay Panorama, that extraordinary oddity of panoramic art and gardens near the West Adams district on May 30. (Alas, since it is night, you won't be able to see their "Carnivorous Plant and Sinister Foliage" garden.)
"The Campfire Song" by Marnie Weber
Photo by LeeAnn Nickel
Weber's first film, from 1994 and shot on Super 8, now digitized, is only two minutes long and titled Songs Hurt Me with a soundtrack by Weber. All the subsequent films have her music as well. Most are less than 10 minutes long and I'm Not a Bunny (1996) is only 58 seconds. There are consistent themes, however, often involving young women leaving unhappy circumstances and traveling, searching, getting lost but finding friends along the way, often helpful animals. While they incorporate recognizable aspects of fairy tales, homespun narratives and various detours into aspects of American history, the films are unabashedly and wonderfully bizarre with numerous characters in complex costumes, with a range of props and wearing masks.
"Western Song" by Marnie Weber
Photo by Greg Wilkin
I've only seen two: In A Western Song (2007), the heroine and her band of spirits leave the spirit world to visit the real world of the Wild West. She then joins a band of hobos and winds up as a sideshow act in a circus. The Eternal Heart (2010) evokes the appearance and themes of early melodramatic black and white silent films. It was presented by curator Emi Fontana at the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena. That extraordinary locale, hardly well-known to her art-world audience, lent the perfect ambience for her spooky film and her performance of its sound track with the Spirit Girls band. That was, in fact, their last performance together.
"Destiny and Blow Up Friends," 1995
Super 8 film to digital, color, sound
Similarly, the Velaslavasay Panorama, built in the early 20th century to present panoramic paintings, now the Union Theater, should be an ideal complement to her filmic evening. At the end of the presentation, Weber will show excerpts from her forthcoming feature film The Day of Forevermore and play the original score live with her frequent musical collaborators Doug Harvey and Daniel Hawkins, in her new band called F for Evermore. For more information, contact lafilmforum.org.