Habit is an autobiographical documentary that follows the current history of the AIDS epidemic along dual trajectories: the efforts of South Africa’s leading AIDS activist group, the Treatment Action Campaign, struggling to gain access to AIDS drugs and the daily routine of the videomaker, a veteran AIDS activist in the U.S. who has been living with AIDS for more than ten years.
Video Data Bank is proud to present the wonderful work of prolific video artist Ximena Cuevas in our latest DVD box set, Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas. This four volume box set features 25 videos by the award-winning artist, spanning 21 years, and is accompanied by a 75-page booklet containing the following essays that examine aspects of Cuevas’s work:
HalfLifers is an ongoing collaborative project created by longtime friends and fellow media artists Torsten Zenas Burns and Anthony M. Discenza. Embracing a gestural improvisation-based performance style and championing a rigorously low-fi aesthetic, HalfLifers engages a shifting region of speculative fictions, from play therapy and improvised crisis re-stagings to zombie architectural systems and psychic sandwich surgery.
Hey Bud revolves around the suicide of Bud Dwyer, a government official who killed himself before a television audience. Zando compares the suicide to a kind of pornographic sex act that plays upon the tension created between exhibitionist and voyeur. It forces viewers to take either an empathetic position vis-a-vis the exhibitionist, or to act as voyeur through release of the repressed desire to see the forbidden face of Death. The piece attempts to understand the power gained through exhibitionism, and how that power is lost through death.
High Five usually comes across as absurd and silly, and generally gets a laugh when shown. I appreciate this response and agree it is quite ridiculous on the surface. However few know the true dark meaning of the piece, which was my personal contribution to a ceremony commemorating the twentieth anniversary of my mother's suicide.
With an amusing sense of drama, The Houses That Are Left illustrates Silver’s technique of building an obscure narrative into a complex net of miscellaneous texts and images. Unfolding throughout the tape is the story of two friends who come together to try to figure out how to live in the modern world while being besieged by militant messages from the dead.
In an interview I did earlier this year for the Milan Game Video/Art exhibition, I deflected a question about the connection between Hymn of Reckoning and Reckoning 3, discouraging the idea that there was much of a link between the two videos, apart from their names and their use of video game material. Now that I’ve thought about it more, I can tease out more connections.
An elegy to Diane Burns on the shapes of mortality and being, and the forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death. A place for new mythologies to syncopate with deterritorialized movement and song, reifying old routes of reincarnation. Where resignation gives hope for another opportunity, another form, for a return to the vicissitudes of the living and all their refractions.
I once read a story about the Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche in a book by death-teacher, Steven Levine. Trungpa went into his son's room and said to him, "I'm dying." And then he said to his son, "You are dying too." This story made a deep impression on me because death is the last taboo, the hidden boogey-man, the unspeakable. It was a beautiful lesson in impermanence this father gave his son.
"When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you'll shut your eyes. You'll close your eyes to the pictures. Then you'll close them to the memory. And then you'll close your eyes to the facts." These words are spoken at the beginning of this agitprop film that can be viewed as a unique and remarkable development. Farocki refrains from making any sort of emotional appeal. His point of departure is the following: "When napalm is burning, it is too late to extinguish it. You have to fight napalm where it is produced: in the factories."
It's not my memory of it is a documentary about secrecy, memory, and documents. Mobilizing specific historical records as memories which flash up in moments of danger, the video addresses the expansion and intensification of secrecy practices in the current climate of heightened security. A former CIA source recounts his disappearance through shredded classified documents that were painstakingly reassembled by radical fundamentalist students in Iran in 1979.
Letter to a missing woman, based partly on memories of someone who has been a political fugitive since 1983, combines documentary "evidence" and fiction in an imaginative reconstruction of public documents and private history. This is a quiet, obsessive piece addressing the human costs and repercussions of re-inventing oneself – one’s body, memories, and future – as a living piece of propaganda. The writer/narrator of this "crazy letter" is an unreliable one, a composite of half-truths, paranoid digressions, and feelings of loss.
Letters, conversations: New York-Chicago, Fall, 2001 is driven by a fragmented voice-over that criss-crosses between two female voices – one seemingly formal and distant, the other more conversational and intimate. It begins with short excerpts from emails, phone conversations and letters between friends, family, ex-lovers and acquaintances in the days and weeks following September 11th, 2001.