Thom Andersen

Born in 1943 in Chicago
Lives and Works in Los Angeles

Active as a filmmaker since the 1960s, Thom Andersen is best known for his essay films, which look at cinema as a technology of political imagination and a secret repository of cultural memory. Andersen created his 2012 Biennial work, Los Angeles Plays Itself, by re-editing footage from a wide range of Hollywood productions, salvaging images of the metropolis from the background of other movies, and adding narration that reinvests them with documentary meanings. Get Out of the Car functions as a coda to Los Angeles Plays Itself, looking at the contemporary city from the pedestrian level. Andersen counterposes new 16mm footage of palimpsestic billboards, neon displays, murals, and building facades with an idiosyncratic survey of remarkable (if lesser-known) music made and recorded in Southern California, creating a symphonic portrait of a city through its signs and sounds. Together, Andersen’s two films propose what he calls a “militant nostalgia,” a complex recuperation of a city’s vanished history. “Change the past,” he entreats viewers in his program notes to Get Out of the Car, “it needs it.”