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Pine Flat

Sharon Lockhart (American, b. 1964)


Medium 16mm film; color, sound; 138 minutes Measurements H: see notes in. (0 cm) Credit The Henry L. Hillman Fund Accession Number 2006.70.1.A-.M Location Not on View


In 2000, having just completed a major cinematic project and seeking to escape the hectic urban life of Los Angeles, Sharon Lockhart rented an isolated cabin in the small town of Pine Flat in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. During the daytime, the artist would often be the only adult present while the other adults were at work. She gradually began to see the potential for an artistic project of the children who gravitated to her on a daily basis. Using the media of 16 mm film and large-scale photography, Lockhart took portraits of individual children, taking measures to reduce their self-consciousness, in some instances leaving the area and allowing the child to sit in front of the camera alone. Pine Flat Portrait Studio (2006.70.2-.10) consists of 19 large-scale portraits of children photographed standing on a concrete floor against a black backdrop. Pine Flat is a two-part film subdivided into twelve chapters, each ten minutes long with a ten second pause between each. The first six chapters are of individual children, the second six are of groups of children; these are divided by a single ten-minute intermission. Examples of filmic chapters include snow falling on trees, a boy sleeping in the grass, and two girls playing on a swing. Ambient, musical, and other sounds accompany the film throughout. Merging fact with fiction, a persistent question in the mind of the viewer is whether or not the scenes are "staged," whether the children are really engaged in what they are doing or only "pretending." The resulting multi-media installation presents a quiet and beautiful portrait of a group of young individuals whose unique identities parallel the subtly changing environment around them. By combining Pine Flat and Pine Flat Portrait Studio into a single installation, the artist continues her investigation into the relationship between the two media of photography and film. Most notably, Lockhart expands on the legacy of experimental cinema of the 1960s, in particular to the structuralist practices of such filmmakers as Michael Snow, Yvonne Rainer, and Chantal Ackerman who challenged the conventions of narrative cinema by focusing on the material structure and process of their medium. Lockhart employs such structuralist tendencies—such as the manner in which she divides the twelve components of the film precisely into 10-minute chapters, a length of time equivalent to the duration of a reel of 16 mm film—while imbuing her film with much greater content and some semblance of narrative, thus forming a "hybrid" category of cinema. Using the seasons of nature as a parallel to the transformational phases of childhood, this work requires a slow and self-conscious reflection on the process of looking on the part of the viewer. In this way, the viewer is able to both observe and imagine the identities of these young individuals in a world where adults are metaphorically absent and children are free to "be themselves." [Extracted from acquisition proposal, 2006]

Artist Bio

Born in Norwood, Massachusetts, in 1964, Sharon Lockhart received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1991 and her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, in 1993. She has been featured in a number of solo exhibitions at venues including Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge (both in 2006); Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain, and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (both in 2005); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2001), and The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Kansas City, Missouri (1998). She has also been represented in group exhibitions at venues including, most recently, the San Francisco Art Institute and the Centre for Photography, Sydney, Australia (2006); the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (all in 2005); in the 2004 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, as well as at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Art institute of Chicago, Chicago (all in 2004).

[Extracted from acquisition proposal, 2006]