Nathaniel Dorsky Premieres at Duke MFA|EDA, Feb 2-5

The Duke University Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts program welcomes visiting artist Nathaniel Dorsky to Duke and Durham in the spring semester of 2018 for four nights of films, February 2-5. The program, entitled 18 at 18, features 18 films from the filmmaker, screened at silent speed, 18 frames per second.

Screening at the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke University, the slate of films spans the filmmaker’s career and includes a new film cycle, the Arboretum Cycle, photographed at the San Francisco Arboretum in 2017. The Arboretum Cycle will be screened in its entirety as a world premiere. Special guests include David Gatten, Mark McElhattten, and Jacob Barreras.

Admission is free, with free ticket reservations available below in each night’s screening details. Contact with questions.

**The screenings are presently sold-out, however please note that there will be a stand-by line at the venue each evening for attendees without ticket reservations. Once all ticketed patrons have been seated, those in the stand-by line will be afforded any vacant seats on first-come-first served basis**


18 at 18: Nathaniel Dorsky at Duke
February 2-5, 2018
Rubenstein Arts Center
Duke University
Durham, NC



Free tickets for Friday available here

(1974-96, 18.5 min.)
Triste is an indication of the level of cinema language that I have been working towards. By delicately shifting the weight and solidity of the images, and bringing together subject matter not ordinarily associated, a deeper sense of impermanence and mystery can open. The images are as much pure-energy objects as representation of verbal understanding and the screen itself is transformed into a “speaking” character. The “sadness” referred to in the title is more the struggle of the film itself to become a film as such, rather than some pervasive mood.

(1992-98, 24 min.)
Variations blossomed forth while shooting additional material for Triste. What tender chaos, what current of luminous rhymes might cinema reveal unbridled from the daytime word? During the Bronze Age a variety of sanctuaries were built for curative purposes. One of the principal activities was transformative sleep. This montage speaks to that tradition.

Love’s Refrain
(2000-01, 22.5 min.)
Perhaps the most delicately tactile in this series, Love’s Refrain rests moment to moment on its own surface. It is a coda in twilight, a soft-spoken conclusion to a set of four cinematic songs.

The Visitation
(2002, 18 min.)
Part One of a set of Two Devotional Songs. The Visitation is a gradual unfolding, an arrival so to speak. I felt the necessity to describe an occurrence, not one specifically of time and place, but one of revelation in one’s own psyche. The place of articulation is not so much in the realm of images as information, but in the response of the heart to the poignancy of the cuts.



Free tickets for Saturday available here

(2013, 18 min.)
Song was photographed in San Francisco from early October through the winter solstice in late December, 2012.

(2008, 15 min.)
Dark and stately is the warm, graceful tenderness of the Sarabande.

August and After
(2012, 18.5 min.)
After a lifetime, two mutual friends, George Kuchar and Carla Liss, passed away during the same period of time.

(2014, 20 min.)
In most of my films I have had the burden of adding a title afterwards. Sometimes the word or words would come automatically, but more often with great difficulty. In the case of Avraham, the title came first. It was not only the film’s inspiration but the very thing that determined every shot and every cut.



Free tickets for Sunday available here

(2016, 26 min)
Autumn, photographed during the last months of the drought year, 2015, is a stately, but intimate, seasonal tome, a celebration of the poignancy and mystery of our later years.

(2014, 16.5 min)
February was photographed during the first weeks of early spring in San Francisco. For me there is a haunted sense of restlessness in its form, some desire for a new freedom, a fresh sense of cinema. It feels to me to be the conclusion of an exploration that began with Triste, some 20 films earlier. What will follow, I do not know.

(2015, 18 min)
How delicately the light imbues our fleeting life.

The Dreamer
(2016, 19 min)
This year our mid-summer’s night was adorned with a glorious full moon. The weeks and days preceding the solstice were magically alive with crisp, cool breezes, bright, warm sunlight, and a general sense of heartbreaking clarity. The Dreamer is born out of this most poignant San Francisco spring.


World premiere of the entire Arboretum Cycle

Free tickets for Monday available here 

(2017, 31 min)
Elohim, or divine beings, the energy of light as creation.

(2017, 19 min.)
Abaton, a sacred place, a sanctuary for dreaming and healing.

(2017, 16 min.)
Coda is an afterword to Elohim and Abaton, the first shades of death and knowing.

(2017, 20 min.)
Ode is the fourth section of the cycle… there is now the presence of death and dying as the dry summer begins.

(2017, 20 min.)
World Premiere: September’s ripeness, a blessing on earth, our Indian summer…

(2017, 16 min.)
World Premiere:  A monody is an ode sung by a single actor in a Greek tragedy, a poem lamenting a person’s death. In this case, the sixth section of this Arboretum Cycle, the death of the garden itself.

(2017, 15 min.)
UPDATE: 19th film just added! World Premiere: Epilogue is the seventh and final film in the Arboretum Cycle, a descent into the dark damp earth, a period of dying.



About Nathaniel Dorsky: Born in New York City in 1943, Nathaniel Dorsky is an experimental filmmaker, author and film editor who has been making films since 1963. He has resided in San Francisco since 1971, and has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions including a Guggenheim Fellowship 1997 and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, two from the Rockefeller Foundation, and one from the LEF Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the California Arts Council. He has presented films at the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern, the Filmoteca Española, Madrid, the Prague Film Archive, the Vienna Film Museum, the Cinemateca Portuguesa in Lisbon, the Pacific Film Archive, the Harvard Film Archive, Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, and frequently exhibits new work at the New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant-Garde and the Wavelengths program of the Toronto International Film Festival. In the spring of 2012 Dorsky screened films as part of the three month long Whitney Biennial. And in October 2015, the New York Film Festival honored his work with a thirty four film complete retrospective at Lincoln Center. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times listed this retrospective in second place in her list of the top ten films of 2015.


About the Rubenstein Arts Center: Opening January 2018, the Rubenstein Arts Center is a hub for artistic production at Duke University. Students, faculty, visiting artists, and other collaborators come together in flexible project studios to hone their skills and create new work. Public programs launch this work into the world. Located across from the Nasher Museum of Art on Duke’s West Campus, the Rubenstein Arts Center, also known as the Ruby, is also home to the programs in Dance, Art of the Moving Image and Duke’s student-run radio station. The film theater has digital projection, in addition to four archival format projectors rehabbed for the Ruby: a dual 35 mm reel-to-reel, 35mm half-frame, 16mm, and Super 8mm.


About Duke MFA|EDA: A unique initiative, the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFA|EDA) at Duke University couples experimental visual practice with the documentary arts in a rigorous two-year program. For more than three decades, Duke has demonstrated leadership in documentary arts, film and video, and visual studies. Drawing upon this commitment to the arts, as well as the university’s existing strengths in historical, theoretical and technological scholarship, the MFA|EDA offers a distinct learning environment that sees interdisciplinary education as a benchmark for significant innovation. More information on the program, faculty, curriculum and application guidelines are available on the MFA|EDA website at



18 at 18: Nathaniel Dorsky at Duke
Supported by the Duke University MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, the Vice Provost for the Arts, the Arts of the Moving Image program, Screen/Society and the Center for Documentary Studies


Images and descriptions courtesy of the artist.



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