Bertoia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Film Feature

Documentary

Bertoia (Documentary)

1 Campaigns | Pennsylvania, United States

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This campaign raised $27,763 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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Enter the metal sound forest: Since Harry Bertoia’s death in 1978 until 2016, his iconic Sonambient sculptures were open to the public at his family barn in rural Pennsylvania. Bertoia documents the final days before the collection was moved off-site and traces the ongoing legacy of the Bertoias.

About The Project

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Mission Statement

Our team members are part of underrepresented identities in the film and media industry. Sarah Moses is a Venezuelan-American Latina, and a woman. Harlow Figa is transgender, queer, genderqueer, and disabled.

The Story

(Photo courtesy of the Harry Bertoia Foundation)

Our documentary team invites viewers to experience what happens when art isn't just seen, but is encountered through touch and sound. Bertoia builds a sonic and visual record of the work and legacy of artist, sculptor, and modern furniture designer Harry Bertoia.

 

 Harry Bertoia is an iconic figure in modern art, with work featured in museums and collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the British Museum. Bertoia received international acclaim for his furniture designs with Knoll, but is also held in high regard for his jewelry, monoprints, and sculptures.

 

 

Throughout his prolific career, Bertoia created thousands of sculptures, including his Sonambients: sculptures comprised of metal rods that reverberate when moved by wind or a touch of the hand, releasing an array of otherworldly, resonant tones. Since his death in 1978, Bertoia’s core collection of nearly 100 Sonambient sculptures was housed in his family barn in Berks County, PA, open to the public for tours by his son Val. The rural location and small size of the barn created an intimate and engaging experience for visitors: the wooden floors rumbled beneath their feet as the orchestra of metal tones engulfed the room in a sound environment. The tall vertical sculptures swayed back and forth, like trees in the wind. This metal sound forest reflected the important role that nature played in Bertoia’s work and life philosophy, and was enhanced by the quiet stillness of the rural property surrounding the barn.

 

In Spring of 2016, our team learned that the majority of Bertoia’s Sonambient collection was to be permanently removed, and we decided it was imperative to document and preserve the visual and sonic experience of the Sonambient Barn. Our Executive Producer, Mitchell Moses, a lifetime admirer of Bertoia’s work, reached out to Val Bertoia, who still lives on the family property in Berks County, PA. Val was excited by the opportunity to preserve the legacy of his father’s Sonambient barn, as was his sister Celia, the founder and director of The Harry Bertoia Foundation. With time ticking, we got to work, filming at the barn and surrounding property in the weeks leading up to the removal of the sculptures. With every trip to the Barn came the widening view of the Bertoia story - one of innovation, collaboration, and the relationship between art, nature, and humanity.

 

 (excerpt from "The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia" by Celia Bertoia) 

 

(Interview still with Bill Valerio, director of the Woodmere Art Museum)

 

Over the past several months, our team has collaborated closely with Bertoia’s children, Val and Celia, allowing us an intimate perspective into his life and work. Val & Celia’s insights are crucial to the film, providing a personal and nuanced view of Bertoia as an artist, father, husband, and innovator. We also have interviewed multiple art historians and artists who have been influenced by Bertoia’s work, including Klaus Ihlenfeld (artist and former studio assistant and collaborator) and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (artist and composer), and have filmed the Harry Bertoia exhibitions at the Museum of Arts & Design in NYC and the Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia. Through the inclusion of artists who incorporate Bertoia’s Sonambients into their own work, such as Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Val Bertoia (who continues to build his own Sonambients), this documentary seeks to show how Harry Bertoia's legacy lives on through the work of other artists.

 

We began this project as students and were able to use the equipment at Haverford College to support the initial production of this film. However, we have lost full access to these resources since graduating. With the remainder of production, we will continue to interview both those who were close with Harry, and those who have been influenced by him. We will also examine the question of accessibility in art, and how Harry’s tactile, sonic, Sonambient collection expands who can consume art.

 

Our mission is to produce a feature length documentary on Harry Bertoia that follows the trajectory of the Sonambient collection, his family, and his legacy, while increasing public knowledge of his extensive and versatile works. We invite the viewer to be immersed in the resonant sounds and visuals of Sonambient, using the barn as an entry point into the world of Bertoia.

Wishlist

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Cash Pledge

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Editing & Post-Production

Costs $15,000

Professional editing software doesn't come cheap! We also will hire professional colorists and sound designers to ensure maximum quality.

Production Fees

Costs $13,000

This will cover equipment, travel costs, insurance, and other expendables.

Grants, Festivals, & Distribution

Costs $2,000

We want this film to be seen by a wide audience, and grants & festivals will expand our outreach and resources!

About This Team

Director: Sarah Moses

Producers: Sarah Moses, Mitchell Moses

Executive Producer: Mitchell Moses

Associate Producer: Harlow Figa

Editor: Sarah Moses

Assistant Editor & Graphic Designer: Harlow Figa

Crowdfunding Manager: Harlow Figa

 

 

 

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