After 38 editions, the Walker Art Center’s Summer Music & Movies is evolving from a weekly series that screens films preceded by a live band to an annual summer film screening and commission/world premiere on the Walker hillside. The new program, Sound for Silents: Film + Music on the Walker Hillside, preserves the distinctive qualities of the popular Summer Music & Movies event, while offering a commission to local sound artists. Although free outdoor screenings of movies and live music were unique to the Twin Cities when Summer Music and Music launched in 1976, the entertainment landscape has significantly changed. The original Loring Park program inspired dozens of similar series that are now offered throughout the metro area during the summer.
The last six installments of Summer Music & Movies featured a closing night event that paired live scores to silent films. Over the last few years this event has been the most popular of the series. The reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden marked the perfect opportunity to bring unique events like Sound for Silents: Film + Music to the Walker hillside.
Sound for Silents: Film + Music continues the opportunity for local musicians to receive commissioning support for new work, as Doug Benidt, Associate Curator, Performing Arts, comments: “For the last six years it’s been an exceptional chance for local composers to stretch artistically and create original new music for this singular event. And as the artists now help us select the films from the Walker collection, it’s a nicely organic collaboration that’s uniquely satisfying for all.”
The new event highlights often-overlooked gems of silent cinema, as Sheryl Mousley, Senior Curator of Moving Image, notes: “Sound for Silents is a wonderful way to discover film history with a contemporary soundtrack, bringing films from the silent era forward by 100 years.”
Sound for Silents: Film + Music on the Walker Hillside takes place Thursday, August 17, at dusk (about 8:30 pm). This free event takes place in the Walker’s redesigned Wurtele Upper Garden adjacent to the Walker. For this special Walker commission, Ryan Olson (Polica, Gayngs) and his all-star ensemble Marijuana Deathsquads present intriguing new live cinematic scores set to 1920s experimental short films by iconic Dada artists Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling.
In the 1920s, artists Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling pioneered a new, highly abstract cinema, using simple geometric forms, absurd humor, and syncronic movement to create highly kinetic, playful, and rhythmic work on screen. Their films, which in 1925 were screened in conjunction with René Clair’s Entr’acte, remained touchstones for later Surrealist efforts and made an immeasurable impact on the landscape of twentieth-century avant-garde cinema.
Sound for Silents: Film & Music is supported by the Bentson Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Open daily, 6 am–12 midnight
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of Minnesota’s favorite summer destinations, reopens June 3.
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a project of the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.