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Picture Lock Unveils Wexner Center’s Best Kept Secret

Hope Madden Hope Madden Picture Lock Unveils Wexner Center’s Best Kept Secret
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As the culmination of the Wexner Center for the Arts’ yearlong 25th anniversary celebration, the public is invited to glimpse an effort that has flown under the radar for a quarter century.

Picture Lock, a four-day festival, directs attention to the Wex’s Film/Video Studio department, a residency program that provides support to filmmakers and artists.

Jennifer Lange, curator for the studio program for the last 14 years, says that the idea may be a new one for Columbus residents, but it’s been part of the Wexner Center since it opened 25 years ago.

“The Wexner Center was founded with a mission to be, not just a presenter of contemporary art, but to be a creator of contemporary art,” she says. “And we all do residencies, each program — exhibitions, performing art, and film/video. Almost every day of the week there’s an artist making work in the program.”

So, what are they doing in there?

“There’s no one size fits all residency,” explains Lange. “It’s basically a post-production studio. We offer in-kind access and support to film and video projects – in-kind meaning, we don’t pay for you, we don’t pay travel, we don’t pay living expenses, but you have 24/7 access to the facilities and you have 8 hour a day, 5 day a week access to an editor. We’re a staffed facility, so we have two editors – Paul Hill and Mike Olenick – so artists have an editor to work with, either creatively or for technical questions.”

With hundreds of filmmakers coming through those doors over the years – some local, some national, some international – how has the program remained relatively unknown?

“It’s been around for 25 years, but it’s better known outside of Columbus than it is in Columbus,” Lange says. “We don’t have to advertise. Our best advertisement is credit. We ask for a credit on a piece, so any good, ambitious filmmaker is reading credits. Also, word of mouth and recommendations from people who have been through the program before are a big source of new folks coming in.”

Anonymity and privacy are among the real benefits, Lange says.

“There’s no public door to this area,” she explains. “The beauty of it is, it’s a working program. It’s project driven. So an artist comes here and their only obligation is to block out the rest of the world and focus on finishing their piece. We give them emotional, creative, technical — all kinds of support — to get through the final process of finishing their video piece.”

Given the extreme variety in the projects that have been crafted with the help of the Wex, Lange had a tough time articulating the full scope of the program for the anniversary celebration.

“It took me a while to figure out how best to tell the story of the program in one event,” she says. “We’ve had works that have been finished in the program that have been shown in the galleries, we’ve had works that have been shown in the theaters and have been a part of performing arts events over the years. But one event that kind of tells the story – in the end I decided that, because it is so artist-centered and project-centered, that the story was best told through the artists themselves. We’re having more visiting filmmakers this one weekend than we’ve ever had in the history of the program all coming at one time.”

More than a dozen filmmakers will join the Picture Lock celebration this weekend, each one paired with another by Lange to discuss their time at the Wexner Center, to dialog about film or editing or documentary, and to provide at least a glimpse of what the program is really like.

“There was a lot of thought put into the pairings of artists,” says Lange. “The themes around them are just kind of guidelines.”

Those themes include New Queer Cinema and Beyond, The Anatomy of an Edit, Made in Ohio, Reframing Documentary, and more.

“I tried to pair people whose personalities would be interesting together, but also, their worlds overlap but maybe not in totally explicit and obvious ways,” Lange says. “It was fun to put it together, but it kind of took me all year to figure out how to do this.”

In representing as many artistic voices as she could, and in trying to underscore the Wex’s artist-centric nature, Lange and crew are also putting together a book to coincide with the Picture Lock program.

“We’re giving them out for free for everyone who comes to the program,” she says. “It’s kind of an oral history. There are about 40 contributors to the book. They range from 14 word contributions to about 500 word contributions about the meaning of the program to their careers, a favorite memory of working here, a favorite memory of Columbus.”

What is Lange’s ultimate goal with Picture Lock?

“It’s a celebration of the program,” she says. “It’s a moment, too, for us at the department and us at the Wexner Center to reflect on that time. But what I want people in Columbus to know is that there’s this amazing program here where films are being made, and people know about Columbus in Brazil and in Prague because there are film festivals that are showing these works that we’re making.”

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Festival Pass – includes admission to all talks and screenings:

  • $25 members, seniors, students
  • $30 general public

Tickets for individual programs are also available. For more information, visit www.wexarts.org.

Full Picture Lock lineup:

  • Art & Technology: The Early Years, Thursday, October 29th, 4:30pm: Jason Simon and Gregg Bordowitz
  • Made in Ohio, Thursday, October 29th, 7pm: Paul Hill and Steve Bognar
  • Film Lives Here, Friday, October 30th, 4:30pm: Deborah Stratman and Kevin Everson
  • New Queer Cinema and Beyond, Friday, October 30th, 7pm: Tom Kalin and Liza Johnson
  • Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, Friday, October 30th, 9pm
  • Anatomy of an Edit, Saturday, October 31st, 2pm: Jennifer Reeder and Mike Olenick
  • The Measures, Saturday, October 31st, 4:30pm: Jacqueline Goss and Jenny Perlin
  • The Forbidden Room, Saturday, October 31st, 7pm: Guy Maddin
  • Reframing Documentary, Sunday, November 1st, 1pm: Lucy Raven and Sam Green
  • Flag Wars, Sunday, November 1st, 3pm

Read more from Hope on MADDWOLF and listen to her weekly horror movie podcast, FRIGHT CLUB.

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