“I identify with Fellini's character in 8-1/2 who says, ‘I don't have anything to say but I want to say that.'”-William T. Wiley
The artist William Wiley made one solo film, Man's Nature, and collaborated on a handful of others with filmmaker Robert Nelson over an eleven-year period beginning in 1963. Writing in 1979 about Wiley and Nelson's films, J. Hoberman proposed, “If there is a San Francisco style-idiosyncratic, wide-open, playfully perverse-Plastic Haircut, The Great Blondino, The Off-Handed Jape, and Deep Westurn embody it.” Wiley and Nelson both attended the San Francisco Art Institute, and were part of a circle of artists that included sculptor Robert Hudson and filmmaker/painter William Allan (both of whom had attended high school with Wiley); sculptor William Geis; and, eventually, painter, musician, and filmmaker Mike Henderson. Their camaraderie extended to collaborative projects including joint drawings, theater, and underground films. These films share a fascination with wordplay, gestural antics, alternate personas, and storytelling. The freewheeling soundtracks include sound collages by Steve Reich and improvised voice-overs by R. G. Davis, Mike Henderson, Nelson, and Wiley, while among the visuals one can find allusions to Wiley's artwork, from rhinos, slingshots, palettes, and pyramids to the carnival figure Blondin. In conjunction with the current BAM exhibition What's It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect, we are pleased to present three evenings with Wiley in person, featuring his own films and those of his collaborators and friends, several of whom plan to be in attendance.