December 14, 2018 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Optunia: Film screening and Artist talk with Writer/Director David Fenster
Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 5:30pm

Optunia: Film screening and Artist talk with Writer/Director David Fenster

Arthur Bell Auditorium


In 1528 Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca crossed the Gulf of Mexico on a raft made of melted armor and slaughtered horses. Over the next eight years, he walked across what is now the American Southwest and Northern Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Experiences with various Native American groups transformed him from conquistador to shamanic healer. When he returned to Spain he wrote La Relación, a chronicle of his experiences in the "New World”.
Tracing his route, OPUNTIA connects Cabeza de Vaca’s historic journey and spiritual transformation to contemporary people and places. With help from psychic Asher Hartman, director David Fenster attempts to communicate with Cabeza de Vaca through a prickly pear cactus. Also known as Opuntia, the plant saved Cabeza de Vaca from starvation. Together, Cabeza de Vaca and cacti defy the weight of centuries and narrate a poetic meditation on colonialism, indigenous cultures, healing, and mystical transformation.
Present at the screening will be David Fenster, Writer/Director/Cinematographer. David’s films have screened at festivals and museums including: The Sundance Film Festival; The Museum of Modern Art; The Pérez Art Museum Miami; Machine Project; and The Hammer Museum. He was the artist in residence at the Chinati foundation and the Wurlitzer foundation.
Established in 1954, The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico is the oldest artist residency program west of the Mississippi. For over sixty years, the program has brought hundreds of visual artists, writers and composers to Taos. Through grants to painters, poets, sculptors, writers, playwrights, screenwriters, composers, photographers and filmmakers, of national and international origin, many resident artists fell in love with Taos and remained in the area after their residency had ended. Since the 1950’s with the first grantee, Agnes Martin, the number of artists who have been introduced to Taos by The Wurlitzer has grown, with contributions by Takayama, Stroh, and Dasburg to name just a few.
Admission is $10/general admission and free to Museum members.