The work of Dani Leventhal explores the complicated space that exists between decay and renewal, intimacy and disconnection and the sacred and mundane. The six pieces that comprise Dani Leventhal Videoworks: Volume 1 each examine these ambiguous emotional and psychic spaces through a use of montage that is at once both unstructured and dispassionate and lyrically sentimental.
Linda Montano is interviewed by Janet Dees, Curator at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University.
Since the 1960s, Linda Montano has aimed to blur the distinction between art and life with her performance and video work. Delving deep into subjects like death, spirituality and personal trauma, she is seen as an influential figure in feminist performance art.
Listen To This is a fragment of collective memory that finds critical relevance in contemporary Queer discourse. Tom Rubnitz weaves narration, image, and a form of temporality, dislocated from ‘real time’, into a video where artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz’s loss and anger is palpable.
In the late 1990’s I presented a slide lecture on how my art references impermanence and dying. In 2014, video artist and editor Tobe Carey scanned the slides from the lecture and we collaged together the spoken narrative, images both of my own work and also of death rituals from many different cultures, creating an Endgame-like collage. There are images from my study in Benares at the Burning Ghats, images from my film Mitchell’s Death, and descriptions of ways that my work and death seem to be close cousins.
Treating the problem of anorexia nervosa from the parents' perspective, Rosler presents a mother and father speaking about the tragedy of their daughter's death as a result of dieting. The conversation turns toward the irony of self-starvation in a land of plenty and toward the international politics of food, where food aid is used as a negotiating tool. Confronting a serious issue, Rosler simultaneously sets into play the confessional form and the ghoulish staginess of talk show dramatics.
A surreal vision of one man's endeavor to contact the spirit world and come to terms with nightmares of a mysterious death. A séance is orchestrated according to instructions written in 1920 by revered parapsychologist Hereward Carrington, voiced here by novelist Lynne Tillman. Roses, seen as light by spirits, are placed in the room but these flowers are plastic; a requisite round table is surrounded by wooden chairs that remain empty despite stern warnings to never sit alone.
Tanaka passionately evokes the loss of her mother by visually recreating the ominous and disempowering feeling of isolation that accompanies mourning. The tape enunciates the painful phases of grieving: the claustrophobic results of dealing with the inevitability of death, the transitional void where one is lost between the comfortable orientation of one’s world and Nothing, and the new sense of clarity where images from the past resurface from the abyss of forgetfulness.
Using performance as a means of personal transformation and catharsis, Mitchell’s Death mourns the death of Montano’s ex-husband. Every detail of her story, from the telephone call announcing the tragedy, to visiting the body, is chanted by Montano as her face, pierced by acupuncture needles, slowly comes into focus then goes out again. The chanting is reminiscent of Buddhist texts, while the needles signify the pain that is necessary for healing and understanding.
VDB is proud to present Linda Montano Videoworks: Volume 1. Originally trained as a sculptor, Linda Montano began using video in the 1970s. She is a seminal figure in contemporary feminist performance art and her work has been critical in the development of video by, for, and about women. Attempting to obliterate the distinction between art and life, Montano's artwork is starkly autobiographical and often concerned with personal and spiritual discipline.
During a video workshop, the Ikpeng community decides to act out the myth of the origin of the tattooing ceremony. The mythical hero, Maragareum, dreams about the collective death of the villagers of his friend’s Eptxum’s village. Arriving in this village, he finds, in fact, that everyone is dead. As night falls, he hides in the hut, and observes and learns the Moyngo ceremony from the spirits of the dead. Directed and photographed by Karané, Kumaré, and Natuyu Ikpeng; edited by Leonardo Sette. In Ikpeng with English subtitles.
In this classic personal elegy, Kubota mourns her father's death and recounts the last days of his life. Reflecting on Kubota's use of the video medium, the television emerges as the link between Kubota and her father, with the melodramatic crooning of Japanese pop singers providing a backdrop for Kubota's real-life tragedy.
My mother's life and death were both extraordinarily epic. A painter who art therapized herself out of depression. Her resiliency could have rewarded her with a Badge of Courage; alchemizing trauma into art, activism and humor. Modeling these gifts for me, I look at our lives which could have been charted and copied page for page, letter by letter, and I recognize that I have imitated her style, not missing a beat.