Optic Nerve XII at MOCA

By Abel S.

altMiami is certainly the place to be for emerging conceptual artists vying to share their vision and ultimately make a name for themselves in the eye of the hurricane. Just as we are home to Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Miami, SCOPE Art Show, Photo Miami, and so many other established contemporary art fairs, we are also known for constant displays of nepotism within our extraordinary arts community. Currently, we have an array of different galleries, organizations, curatorial spaces, and museums that seasonally dedicate their expertise to the mentorship of new artists. Among these, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Miami celebrated the 10th anniversary of Optic Nerve, an annual festival of short films and videos by new South Florida artists.

Optic Nerve XII featured 22 films by 21 artists, all running a maximum of five minutes, selected from an open call to artists of South Florida. Since its launch 10 years ago in 2000, the festival has been an intricate part of MOCA’s dedication to promoting emerging artists, initiating the careers of over 150 new talents of our community. This year’s competition, sponsored once again by Starbucks Coffee Company (an avid sponsor since 2006), was juried by Anthony Allegro (Professor of Motion Pictures, School of Communications, University of Miami), Don Chauncey (former Director for the Lynn and Louis Wolfson Florida Moving Image Archives at Miami-Dade College), and Bonnie Clearwater (Executive Director and Chief Curator at MOCA), among others, and featured works like Valor Y Fe by Carlos Llerena Aguirre, Scenic Jogging by Jillian Mayer, Juan Carlos Zaldivar’s Horror (Horror Sickness), and Emerson Rosenthal’s Pseudocoma (Audience Choice winner). Chief Curator, Bonnie Clearwater, just recently announced that the three winning films from Optic Nerve XII that will be acquired by MOCA for its permanent collection are Autumn Casey’s Getting Rid of All My Shoes, Susan Lee-Chun’s Let’s Suz-ercise (Chicago-Style), and Justin H. Long’s In Search of Miercoles. The 10th anniversary of Optic Nerve was celebrated with special screenings and audience voting opportunities, making the one-night-only event especially interactive. Due to an overwhelming response from Miami locals and visitors alike, MOCA hosted two screening rooms instead of one, with Clearwater doing the honorary introductions of the event and then leaving the audience to their night of art discovery.

Past Optic Nerve winners have successfully used the festival as the launching pad it was created to be. Among these are Whitney Biennial winners William Cordova and Luis Gispert, and currently, The Art Museum of El Salvador (MARTE) is screening films that MOCA acquired through Optic Nerve like Phillip Estlund’s Crossing the Equator, I am the Smallest Planet of My Own (story tell) by Jiae Hwang, and 1984/2005 by Kyle Trowbridge, among many others.

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