Joseph Bernard

Program Notes: James Cathcart, Programmer for Third Man Records & Belcourt Theatre, Nashville 4/19/16

Joseph Bernard, a painter, mixed-media artist and former student of Stan Brakhage, made over 100 works on 8mm film over the course of just one decade (1975-85). Punctuated by an ever-shifting conceptual framework and Bernard's nomadic state of being, the films are kaleidoscopic abstractions of light and texture, as well as personal expressions and a mode of self-inquiry. They dually create an ethereal space while invoking the specific locale of their creation (Detroit, Chicago, New York, and the salty oceanfront of Provincetown, MA). In 1985, Bernard withdrew from filmmaking completely, frustrated by the cost of materials. As Phil Coldiron notes in a recent Cinema Scope feature on Bernard, "American experimental cinema is considerably poorer for both the brevity and obscurity of his career.”

Now, after three decades of purgatory, Bernard's films have been resurrected and are enjoying a second life. The original 8mm masters have been digitally scanned and restored, and are receiving overdue praise and exhibition across the country. Forty of them have been assembled in a stunning Blu-ray retrospective, titled PRISMATIC MUSIC. Bernard has selected several of his works to be exhibited in two thematically distinct programs for Third Man Record's Nashville and Detroit locations. The screenings each offer a unique lineup, prefaced by an introduction from Bernard himself.