Feature Film Program

Desolation Center

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$16 online or at the door


Thu Aug 15 7:45 PM

The untold story of anarchic punk-rock desert happenings that sent reverberations through our culture.

Following the screening, there will be a live performance by Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) with suspended electric guitar, accompanied by the projected films of Leah Singer!

The Film

Desolation Center

Stuart Swezey | US | 94

Desolation Center is the untold story of a series of Reagan-era guerrilla music and art performance happenings in Southern California, recognized as the inspirations for Burning Man, Lollapalooza and Coachella, paving the way for these collective experiences that have become a crucial part of alternative culture in the 21st century. The feature documentary combines interviews and rare performance footage of Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Swans, Redd Kross, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Savage Republic and more; documenting a time when pushing the boundaries of music, art, and performance felt almost like an unspoken obligation. Directed by the creator and principal organizer of the events, Stuart Swezey, Desolation Center is the true story of how the risky, and at times even reckless, actions of a few outsiders can unintentionally lead to seismic cultural shifts.


Lee Ranaldo & Leah Singer

Lee Ranaldo and Leah Singer have worked together since 1991, combining film and music in a live setting. In recent works Sight Unseen and Contre Jour Lee explores “suspended electric guitar phenomena” and Leah’s film frames interact with live shadow play. Image and sound, the drone of a guitar string, the flash of a film frame. Lee Ranaldo co-founded Sonic Youth in 1981, and has been active on the New York music and art scene for the past 35 years as composer, performer and producer; also exhibiting visual art and publishing several books of journals and poetry. His next LP Names of North End Women, a collaboration with Raul Refree, will be released in October 2019 on Mute Records. In addition to his own albums, recent collaboarative albums have been released with Jim Jarmusch, France’s HiFi Klub, Greek band The Callas, and Brooklynites Oneida. Live performances with partner Leah Singer, Contre Jour, have been large scale, multiprojection sound+light events with suspended electric guitar phenomena that challenge the usual performer/audience relationship. Lee was a music producer for HBO’s Martin Scorcese-Mick Jagger produced VINYL series in 2015-16. His artwork has been exhibited internationally. Hurricane Transcriptions (based on wind recordings made during Hurricane Sandy in NYC in 2012), originally written for Berlin’s Kaleidoscop String Ensemble, has subsequently been performed by Sydney’s Ensemble Offspring and by Brooklyn’s Dither Electric Guitar Quartet at Lincoln Center in 2015. His most recent book is Some Writings on Music and Musicians. Lee is a longtime TriBeCa resident in New York City. Leah Singer is best known for her experimental films and videos, which are projected live in collaboration with musicians. She has performed at Centre George Pompidou, Reykjavik Arts Festival, The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Rotterdam Film Festival among many others. A selection of her work is part of Kenneth Goldsmith’s Ubu Web archive and has recently been chosen to screen at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Her multi-disciplinary approach extends to practices in printmaking, publishing, photography and sculpture. Her self-published newspaper series of silhouette imagery called, copy, is collected by institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, NY and has led to commissions from Nike for a running map of Central Park and artist billboards in Los Angeles supporting a local arts organization. Originally from Canada, she works and lives with her family in New York City.

Parlor Walls

Parlor Walls swim between chaos and restraint, straddling the line ofpost-punk and avant-garde and something else entirely. Alyse Lamb's guitar churns a thick anthem as she belts and commands the stage at full throttle (think Wire's playful ache coupled with Siouxsie Sioux's understated angst). Drums and synth propel, both delivered in tandem by Christopher Mulligan. One limb cranks industrial riffs while the other catapults dancing beats. Together the duo deliver a heavy dose of colorful, rhythmic urgency intended to push, pull, shake and ignite.

Event Details

7:45 PM
Doors Open
8:30 PM
Live Music from Parlor Walls
9:00 PM
Film Begins
10:35 PM
Q&A with filmmaker Stuart Swezey, Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), and Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, Wolfmanhattan Project)
10:50 PM
Live Performance by Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) accompanied by the projected films of Leah Singer
11:05 PM
No refunds. Seating is first come, first served. In the event of rain, show will be rescheduled. No outside alcohol is permitted.


Green-Wood Cemetery

500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232

venue on Google Map

The show presented in partnership with