Molly Bernstein’s “An Art That Nature Makes: The Work of Rosamond Purcell” examines the life and career of photographer Rosamond Purcell, bringing light to a major presence long unrecognized by the art world. A collector of objects that’s curious about human beings’ obsessive need to collect, Purcell is not an easily classifiable artist, but she’s someone who uses material objects as a medium to understand the collective human psyche.
The daughter of an eminent Harvard University historian, she grew up in an academic environment where the written word was sacred, but eventually gravitated towards images both emotionally and intellectually challenging. Some of the images in her work include an old, discarded book transformed by the steady work of hungry termites, and a meticulously arranged box of human molars collected by Peter the Great. The documentary features interviews with not only Purcell, but admirers such as documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, magician Ricky Jay and museum director Lisa Melandri. Watch the trailer below.
Bernstein previously directed and produced “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay,” a documentary that premiered at the New York Film Festival and later aired on PBS’ “American Masters” series; it was named one of the Top 10 films of 2013 by Entertainment Weekly.
“An Art That Nature Makes: The Work of Rosamond Purcell” premiered at the 2015 DOC NYC Film Festival. It will run theatrically from August 10th through 16th at New York City’s Film Forum theater.