New Acquisition: Photographs and Films by Marcia Hafif


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The renowned artist Marcia Hafif, who divides her time between Laguna Beach and New York, has kindly donated her photographic series Colony Kitchen and three of her films.
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Before starting graduate school at the University of California, Irvine in 1969, Hafif had already made her name internationally with her subtle, largely monochromatic paintings. But on starting her MFA she decided to set painting aside and experiment with photography and film. The role she assumed in her work in these media was that of a passive observer or voyeur, and she was much inspired by avant-garde filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard.
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Colony Kitchen (1970) is made up of six gelatin silver prints, and the set in the museum’s collection was the first Hafif printed in her makeshift darkroom in Laguna Beach. The images are views of Laguna Beach’s Colony Kitchen restaurant and its parking lot from across the Coast Highway. People gather, a Volkswagen bus is present—then the viewpoint shifts to Hafif’s own side of the street, capturing passersby and some parking meters. The sequence of images hints that perhaps something is happening, or just about to happen, although it is impossible to say exactly what. The series is also a documentation of Laguna Beach at a certain moment in time.
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The three Hafif films give a broader context to her work of this period. They are 8-mm transferred to DVD. The film Colony Kitchen (1970) takes place in the same location as the photographic series of the same title. Airport Arrival (1970) captures travelers walking busily through a terminal. Hafif refers to this as “a Los Angeles Alphaville,” a reference to a Godard film that takes place in a futuristic, dystopic setting. The third film, Wine Bottles (1972), is a silent, color film that captures the movement of light in the early part of the evening in Hafif’s kitchen, a still-life in movement.
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