Please Enjoy and Return: Bruce Conner Films from the Sixties

Curated by Mary Statzer, Curator of Prints and Photographs UNM Art Museum 
On view February 8, 2019 – May 4, 2019 
Opening reception February 8, 2019, 4pm – 6pm

It is difficult to categorize the boundary-breaking, multi-media trajectory of American artist Bruce Conner (1933 – 2008). Constant change and a wide-roving, obsessive curiosity are perhaps two constants in Conner’s work, which ranges from assemblage to drawing, painting and sculpture to conceptual art and experimental film. Connected as he was to revolutionary and counter-cultural movements like the Beat poets and punk music scene, it is unsurprising that Conner worked consistently to undermine easy classification schemes and definitions of his own artistic production.

The groundbreaking, experimental nature of Conner’s work is especially evident in his films, which are comprised of found, scavenged, and original footage, and often incorporate popular music of the era in a way that both anticipated and inspired contemporary music video production. The UNMAM will be showing a rotation of three of Conner’s films from the 1960’s, which contextualize and expand on themes present in other works by him from the museum’s permanent collection that are currently on view in the exhibition HINDSIGHT/INSIGHT: Reflecting on the Collection.

February 8 – April 6 


16mm, black and white, sound (digitally restored, 2016), 5 minutes, exhibition copy
Dance and vocals by Toni Basil
Music by Ed Cobb

Featuring musician and choreographer Toni Basil (Antonia Christina Basilotta) singing and dancing to the song she recorded for her 1966 single, BREAKAWAY demonstrates Conner’s mastery of film as a medium. Here, Basil’s figure and voice are increasingly distorted and abstracted, then reversed back to their original forms, creating a mesmerizing, playful expression of both visual sensuality and Conner’s obsessive, exacting artistic manipulations. 


16mm to 35mm optical blow-up (digitally restored, 1996), music by Terry Riley, 14:30 minutes, exhibition copy  

Conner’s first color film made with footage he created, LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS moves from personal travel footage taken during the artist’s year-long stay in Mexico City to saturated, psychedelic abstractions of imagery captured in San Francisco. The film responds to Conner’s increasing disenchantment with U.S. Cold War politics and his ongoing fascination with the nature of consciousness and spiritual experience. 

April 9 – May 4 

REPORT, 1963–67
16mm, black and white, sound (digitally restored, 2017), 13 minutes, exhibition copy 

Assembled entirely from found footage, REPORT was created both as a personal reckoning with the grief and shock occasioned by JFK’s assassination, as well as a biting indictment of the media and consumer culture that Conner believed exploited the tragedy of the president’s untimely death.  

All artwork in Please Enjoy and Return courtesy of The Conner Family Trust, San Francisco and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles. 

The UNM Art Museum would like to thank Rupal Engineer and Design Plus for their generous donation of design and planning services.