Rebecca Barten and David Sherman have turned asmall warehouse storefront into "an exhibition and presentation space for contemporary and historical visual, sonic and film arts" called Exploded View Microcinema and Gallery, at 197 E. Toole Ave. The couple met in San Francisco, where they organized the first microcinema experience of its kind in the basement of the flat where they lived. In Bisbee they organized a three-day underground film festival. The couple recently relocated to Tucson, Sherman's hometown, to keep the microcinema experience going. For more info and a program schedule, visit explodedviewgallery.org or check out their Facebook page.
What's your Tucson story?
David: I grew up in Tucson.
Rebecca: I grew up in New York and we met in San Francisco, but we moved to Bisbee with our 15-month-old son, and by the time he was 8 1/2 all three of us were ready for a change. We've always liked Tucson. We moved here for more of a different kind of a community—a cultural community, as well as our son's needs. Pretty much wherever we've lived, we've never really felt truly situated as working artists unless we've included this kind of project. And for 20 years we've collaborated in various curatorial projects as an extension of our art practice.
What microcinema projects have you done before?
David: In San Francisco we created the Total Mobile Home MicroCINEMA in the basement of a flat we lived in.
Rebecca: In a New York Times story we're credited with coining the term microcinema. It's a small screening exhibition space usually devoted to film and art. ... the intention is to combine the element of cinema with music and a performance venue and alternative gallery where different elements can inform each other.
How do you determine the programming?
David: We're open to many different ideas, independent and experimental film ... the kind of work we love and the type of work we make in order to have the kind of community that is vibrant for our practice. We don't want to sit around to wait for somebody else to do it. ... It's also exciting and creative for us and a great way of meeting so many different artists in Tucson.
What did you do in Bisbee?
Rebecca: We started an underground film festival. ... right before monsoon, outside an old WPA park and 800 people would come out to see film for three days.
David: This can't be stressed enough. When we first started (microcinema) it was such a different time, more than 20 years ago. It was pre-YouTube, when artists were just starting to engage the Internet. Accessing the work was much more difficult. Now, though, you can find almost anything from YouTube, but we might project the film here and have the artist in person and have an experience together that's really something you can't get in any other way.
David: Like when we showed a 1929 silent film by Tod Browning with 18-year-old Joan Crawford and Lon Chaney, and accompanied by live music. There's an excitement. ... a live palpable energy that is really exciting. ... Another is when we showed home movies from a Tucson Latino family that Rebecca got at a flea market. ... We also have a big collection from San Francisco from the public school system—thousands of pounds of film that we've been carrying—a certain cultural archeology or media archeology that we will show one day.
When you talk about your own art practice, what do you mean?
Rebecca: Both of our work is collage-based. So my background is making short film and videos that always have a collage element to them. In my studio practice, I make paper collages. And David works both in film video and installation, often with previously shot images. Really what we are doing here is combining elements—sound and image and audience, rather than open the doors, stick a drink in their hands and show a film. We have to decide what's going to be on the monitor when people come in, what's going to be on in the hallway, what music will we play and show on the slide projector, all to try to somehow inform and tie in and activate the whole evening. ... so the whole evening becomes this creative collage.