When curator, archivist, filmmaker and oddities collector Eric Bresler took over the Philadelphia Mausoleum Company space left behind by its landlord (DJ, record producer and Major Lazer member Diplo) 10 years ago, he more-than-likely didn’t realize that he would wind up creating a home away from home for so many of this city’s devotees of strange, beautiful art and live performance.
Starting in 2012, that meant gathering up and hosting truly quirky events ranging from death metal and hardcore band concerts to performance artists from around the globe on its small stage. That meant ’80s B-movie slasher flicks, Japanese anime, scary spoken word poets, vintage television commercial reels, experimental art exhibitions, VHS film festivals and all things related to David Lynch and the Spring Garden Street area’s then-new nickname, the Eraserhood, including a visit from the Twin Peaks director and writer himself.
Heck, Bresler all but named that block the Eraserhood with his Philadelphia Museum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA) and its spectral, avant-garde brand of sound and vision that he pursued nightly.
“I think surviving as a performing arts venue, especially one that caters to non-mainstream crowds, and promoting my types of events for 10 years now is a real accomplishment worthy of celebration,” says Bresler.
That’s why, this week, Bresler represents the best of what PhilaMOCA has and can offer with everything from Tuesday’s “Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island” featuring three Amy Fisher made-for-TV biopics edited into a single, brilliant found footage masterpiece, and Thursday’s Philadelphia premier of “The Timekeepers of Eternity” movie, an animated, found footage-style reworking of the little-seen Stephen King television miniseries “The Langoliers.”
“I’m showing some of my favorite films that we have presented at PhilaMOCA in the past, including Monday night’s screening of the controversial remake of ‘The Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation’ re-made, shot-for-shot by a group of teenagers from Minnesota in the early ’80s, as well as our Amy Fisher biopic mash-up,” says Bresler. “These are strange things that I feel really capture what I’ve always tried to share with my programming at PhilaMOCA. These aren’t films that will necessarily pack the house, but that’s never been the goal with what I do at PhilaMOCA, I’ve always tried to find that balance between presenting interesting things for unique sensibilities and presenting other events with a wider fan base that help pay the bills.”
Some of those wider fan base events have included Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, poet and transgressive filmmaker Lydia Lunch, and handmade documentaries on the cult band (and Bresler fav) Sparks. Certainly included in the PhilaMOCA favorites is Monday Oct. 3’s Schlockademy Awards night from the Philadelphia Psychotronic Film Society and its flicks that come with a warning: “may contain extreme subject matter, attend at your own risk.”
Mainly though, the 10th Anniversary retrospective celebration of Bresler’s decade’s worth of unique programming at PhilaMOCA will focus on his own film, a comedic video presentation featuring footage from his favorite events and a recap of troubles that he and his museum have had along the way. That means everything from the pandemic to L&I challenges on the performance, screening and exhibition space.
“The anniversary presentation itself that I’m hosting on Friday (Sept. 30) goes over the evolution of the room, the event experimentation that I made in my early years here, as well as some of our more fondly remembered escapades and troubled events and guests — so there will definitely be some good gossip involved,” says Bresler with a laugh. “It’s a funny and concise recap of a decade at PhilaMOCA spent trying to bring interesting film and music to Philadelphia, and I think it works for our regulars and for those who have never stepped foot in our room.”