SFCA [isaw+subtropics] in collaboration with ArtCenter/South Florida

Charles Recher
photo: Bruce Bosner, ©1994, Miami Beach

Charles Recher: Miami Ciné Dadaist
A Mini-Film Retrospective/Perspective
Curated and Compiled by Gustavo Matamoros and Bruce Posner
Courtesy of the Estate of Charles Recher

Thursday, July 6, 2017 9:00PM

Miami Beach Cinematheque
1130 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Sponsors Filmmakers Showcase, Miami Beach Cinematheque, Obsolete Media Miami (O.M.M.)

“I was always being surprised by what he was doing. I guess that is an artist’s job — to surprise us and to make us think. Charles was very good at this job.” —Barbara Young

Words can’t begin to describe an artwork by Charles Recher. His world was one of enigma tinged between fantasy and reality. He embraced film and video making with a child-like wonder that was tempered by his engagement with not only the performance aspects of cinema but with the audience’s reception of the projected image. Much of the work was made for the purpose of surprise encounters with his films-videos projected at strange locations on obscure screens. These hidden images were balanced with massive large-scale public installations and performances that directly engaged viewers no matter if one had intended to be involved or not. In between, he embraced the conventional movie theater experience such as the format of the offerings presented tonight. Sometimes phantasmagorical but always directed towards the soul, his films and videos playfully straddle a schism between two worlds – one very real and hard and of the physical world that we all share. While in the other, he is preoccupied with a fantastic mythological interior journey and the creatures encountered in his dreams.


Courtesy of Masterworks of American Avant-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970

Ballet Mechanique (1923-24, restored 2015) by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy with Ezra Pound and Man Ray; Music by George Antheil from original 1924-25 score Ballet pour instruments mécaniques et percussions, adapted and arranged 2000 by Paul D. Lehrman, re-mixed 2015 by Gustavo Matamoros; courtesy G. Schirmer, Inc., Estate of George Antheil, Paul D. Lehrman. 2K DPX 10bit Linear from 35mm black & white with color tints silent with new music 17 minutes.

  • Early Dadaist cinema provided Recher with a life-long fascination of the “aggressive Dada spirit” as seen in this sprightly collage of machinery, everyday objects and prismatic shapes pushed up against smiling human faces and outlandish poses. Recher, an avid moviegoer, would not veer far from the sense of play imbued in the propositions of nonsense exhibited by European avant-gardists and movie-makers during the 1920s and 30s.

TeyibahwAndela (1979-80, restored 2017) by Charles Recher. 2K DPX 10bit Linear from 16mm color sound 8 minutes.

  • One of Recher’s earliest films, Teyibahw shows the young artist in full control of his medium – film, performance and sound. The message of the film may be hard to define, but his engagement with the mysteries of life pushes a surreal view of the artist’s activities within the confines of a small room.

Florida – Mariner’s Dream (1994, restored 2017) by Charles Recher. 2K DPX 10bit Linear from 16mm color silent 16 minutes.

  • Recher saw Florida as a vast playground for the imagination. Colors, shapes and forms swirl around the filmmaker as he poses the question of what quantifies one’s existence more than a swim in the ocean. From his hectic camera work combining Super 8mm film and Hi8 video to the masterly optical printing-editing techniques, Recher weaves a magical-musical going-to-sea fantasy worthy of the Coleridge moniker of the title.

Cars & Fish (2005, preserved 2017) by Peter Melaragno from a video installation by Charles Recher and Gustavo Matamoros. MiniDV NTSC 720x488i 59.94 color sound 7 minutes.

  • The December 2, 2005 Art Basel performance by Recher (video) and Matamoros (audio) inaugurated the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (then still under construction) with a massive array of graphic video projections splayed across the building’s facade. As one of Recher’s largest light works, the mesmerizing colors and hi-contrast black & white imagery ebb and flow in tune with the varied essence of South Florida’s natural and man-made environments captured by the artist. Peter Melarango’s short documentary relays a fragmented overview of the proceedings, not necessarily what the artists’ had intended as much as the possibilities addressed. Still the video does quantify a tangible sense of the physical scale and effect of the projections on the buildings and the audience.

Video Prophet (2000, preserved 2017) by Charles Recher with Robin Glass. MiniDV NTSC 720x488i 59.94 black & white sound 22 minutes.

  • Recovered among Recher’s estate are numerous camera originals and working edits. This dramatic video shows the final version of the “Video Prophet” acted by Robin Glass that was replayed during the live performance on a large TV “face” set atop a 12-foot tall man who walked around and encountered people on Miami Beach. Here we see a single-screen horizontal-image as it was shot minus the edifices of the performance activity.

Notes by Bruce Posner © 2017
Total screening time 70:40 minutes

All images property of the Estate of Charles Recher except where noted.
Used by permission. All rights reserved


Subtropics XXIV is possible with support from City of Miami Beach’s Cultural Affairs Program and Cultural Arts Council; with additional support from Miami-Dade County, Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; and sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; and by the Blank Family Foundation. SFCA [] would also like to acknowledge the ongoing support of Sennheiser, leaders in superior sound technology. Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) supports Subtropics XXIV through the Program for the Internationalization of Spanish Culture (PICE).