Tag Archives: BAMPFA

See Sojourner Truth’s ‘calling cards’ at BAMPFA

Carte de visite of Sojourner Truth, 1863; albumen print mounted on cardboard; 4 x 2 1/2 in.; BAMPFA, gift of Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby.
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By Joel Bahr

Patrons of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will get a chance to meet abolitionist, women’s rights activist, speaker, entrepreneur, runaway slave and illiterate memoirist Sojourner Truth in a new exhibit that opened Wednesday. Or at least they’ll get to meet the peripatetic truth-teller the same way most 19th-century Americans did — through small rectangular photographs called cartes de visite.

Cartes de visite are small, 2½- by 4-inch pieces of cardboard adorned with a photograph that functioned in a similar capacity to modern-day business cards. Invented in France in 1854, the carte de visite quickly became popular in the U.S., and were utilized by abolitionists like Truth to disseminate their message.

Before becoming an abolitionist and activist, Truth was born Isabella Baumfree, a slave in upstate New York who actually learned how to speak Dutch before English. A mother of five, Truth stayed in New York until 1826 when, at age 30, she ran away with one of her children. In 1843, she took the name Sojourner Truth, and spent the rest of her life advocating for the abolition of slavery and for women’s rights, as well as teaching skills to freed Southern slaves.

Truth was a formidable speaker, and her speech given at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron in 1851 — which would eventually come to be known as “Ain’t I A Woman”— is to this day one of the most iconic pieces of women’s rights rhetoric. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Ubuntu Theater Group
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UBUNTU THEATER PROJECT Oakland’s Ubuntu Theater Project is coming to Berkeley with the third show in its inaugural season, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright. The play opens on Saturday March 5 in a cozy, historic Berkeley home whose original ballroom has been converted into a theater space. The contemporary classic is based on Wright’s fascination with Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transgender person who survived Nazi Germany and Stasi surveillance in East Berlin. Von Mahlsdorf’s story is a celebration of courage, resilience and of self-preserving compromises. The play speaks to the complexity of survival when one’s most intimate home — the body — is the source of persecution. Ubuntu’s co-artistic director William Hodgson plays all 40 characters in the play. The play runs through March 20 at Haba Na Haba House, 1936 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Berkeley  94707. For tickets ($15-35 online; pay-what-you-can at the door) and information, call 510-646 1126 or visit www.ubuntutheaterproject.com. … Continue reading »

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Lights, camera, action: Time to shine for film at BAMPFA

PFA Photo Iwan Baan
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The last coat of paint has been applied, the fixtures are all in place, and the hard hats have departed: it’s time to celebrate the re-opening of BAMPFA’s film programming. Yours truly managed to get a sneak peek of what’s in store for Bay Area cinéastes, and I can happily report that we’re all in for quite a treat.

Located at 2120 Oxford St. in downtown Berkeley, the new BAMPFA building is an open, airy, and naturally lit paradise for art enthusiasts and film fans. For the first time in 16 years, BAMPFA screenings will take place under the same roof — in this case, a gleaming curvaceous stainless steel roof — as the museum’s art galleries.

The new PFA features two screening rooms, with the Barbro Osher Theater serving as the Archive’s centerpiece. This 232-seat room is vastly superior to the ‘temporary’ space the Archive occupied for the last decade – and, dare I suggest, also a considerable improvement over BAMPFA’s previous ‘permanent’ home in the old Ciampi building on Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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