GEOFF PINGREE + RIAN BROWN
Blue Desert - Toward Antarctica
May 24 – September 29, 2017
A multi-channel video installation projected onto three walls with sound, Blue Desert surrounds the viewer with high-resolution views of Antarctica’s vast, haunting, and fragile landscape. More akin to a moving painting or chapel of frescos than to a nature documentary, the project builds a dramatic environment that encourages audiences to contemplate and meditate upon the fleeting light, grand scale, and striking majesty of this distant and largely uninhabited part of the earth. While any attempt to depict the Antarctic is, in some sense, futile—an exercise in representing the unrepresentable — Blue Desert, shot during a three week expedition to Antarctica, offers one rendering of a world both overwhelming and alien, deeply felt and unfathomable, immediate and unreachable. icelenspictures.com
Header image: Blue Desert, Lemaire Channel Antarctica, Geoff Pingree + Rian Brown
About the Artists
Geoff Pingree is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker, a photographer, a writer, and Professor of Cinema Studies at Oberlin College. He earned both a master’s and doctorate in English and American Literature and Film Studies at the University of Chicago and, before coming to Oberlin, worked in public television in Washington, DC, where he also directed Catholic University’s Program in Media Studies and George Washington University’s Institute for Documentary Filmmaking. His film work has been broadcast on venues including PBS and Discovery. His photography received National Geographic’s 2008 World in Focus Grand Prize and has been published widely in magazines and newspapers including National Geographic Traveler, the New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune. He co-edited New Media, 1740-1914 (MIT), a collection of scholarly essays, has authored scholarly articles on documentary and Spanish cinema, has written about media, culture, and politics for the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Wired, the Nation, the Economist, the American Prospect, Ms. Magazine, Cineaste, and National Geographic Traveler, among others, and has worked as a correspondent in Spain for both TIME and the Christian Science Monitor.
With colleague Rian Brown, he founded and directs the Apollo Outreach Initiative, a media education and community outreach program housed in Oberlin’s historic Apollo Theatre. He also directs StoryLens (storylens.org), a non-profit organization that produces short independent documentary films about pressing social issues in order to promote education, encourage public dialogue, and facilitate political change. He is currently editing The Return of Elder Pingree, a feature-length autobiographical documentary he shot in Guatemala. With grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, he and Brown are currently completing The Foreigner’s Home, a feature-length documentary on the intellectual and artistic vision of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. The film, which will be released in summer 2017, explores the ideas that Morrison articulated – and the public conversation she began – in an exhibition she guest-curated at the Louvre in 2006. storylens.org
Rian Brown is a filmmaker and Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and New Media at Oberlin College. She grew up in a family of artists and as a child lived in many different parts of the U.S., studied art at the Massachusetts College of Art and received her Masters of Fine Arts in film from the University of California, San Diego. Brown’s work spans a variety of film genres – including experimental, personal narrative, documentary and video installation – and explores notions of motherhood, identity, landscape, memory, and nostalgia in both narrative structure and visual style. Reflecting Brown’s background in painting, her films also deploy rich, visually dynamic imagery, hand-painted animation, and experimental techniques. Presence of Water, a short 16 mm film Brown shot in Northern Italy, is a visual diary and memory of the last few months of pregnancy that has shown widely in festivals, including the Independent Film Channel, the New York Shorts Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Nashville International Film Festival, and the Women in the Director's Chair. Her documentary film, Into the Scrum, a short documentary that takes an intimate look at the complex and physical world of women’s rugby.
Her work has shown around the world at film festivals and museums including the Wexner Center, L.A. Hammer Museum of Art, the Harvard Film Archive, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, and the Milano-Athenia in Athens, Greece. In 2015, Rian Brown and her colleague Geoff Pingree were awarded grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative for the production of The Foreigner’s Home, a feature-length documentary film on the intellectual and artistic vision of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. The film will be released in summer 2017 and explores the ideas and vision Toni Morrison articulated – and the public conversation she began – in the exhibition she guest-curated at the Louvre in 2006. With Pingree, she founded and directs the Apollo Outreach Initiative, a media education and community outreach program housed in Oberlin’s historic Apollo Theatre. rianbrown.com