Death and Dying

2012
Paweł Wojtasik, Nascentes Morimur

Nascentes Morimur grew out of a series of works on autopsy — an earlier video and a number of still images — that were exhibited together as Like a Shipwreck We Die Going Into Ourselves. In an interview on that body of work Wojtasik said: “In the end, doubt has been raised. One starts to look around the room at the living and the dead and question how real one’s own and others’ identities are. At the same time, one may be filled with simultaneous wonder and dread at the sheer fact of being alive in the body.”

-- Kustendorf Film and Music Festival

1987
Not a Jealous Bone

Invoking a biblical story of life coming from dry bones, Condit constructs an experimental narrative about an older woman’s confrontation with her own mortality after the death of her mother. The bone represents the promise of youth and hope—a promise jealously coveted by the young, but needed more by those grown old. Inverting cultural values, Condit represents feminine youth as a mannequin, and seeks humanity in the form of the older woman, who is reborn by overcoming her fear of death.

2010
Not Torn (Asunder from the Very Start)

The archive is not a repository of cultural memory, but of dreams, a bank of dream material. Both memory and archive embrace death, but from contrary positions. The archive is a mausoleum that pretends to be a vast garden. Memory is an irradiated zoo in which the various animals are mutating extravagantly and dying slowly.

-- Steve Reinke

2007
O'Malley's Head #2

In 1998 I made a sculpture of a decapitated head. I featured it in a photo and video. I thought of the head as a character whose adventures would be documented. The name O’Malley was inspired by Chicago’s Irish heritage (I was living in Chicago then). O’Malley’s Head Part 1 was a photo of the head placed on top of the garbage cans in the alley behind my apartment building. I lived right by an exit ramp from the Kennedy Expressway, one of the last before you reached downtown from O’Hare Airport. Sometimes people would exit there and dump things.

1982
On Death and Dying

Three nuns in dark sunglasses sit at a table playing cards while a nurse is inteviewed about "what death looks like” on the soundtrack. As the nurse speaks, in medical detail, of death as a natural process, the nuns sit with party hats on their heads and light birthday candles stuck in bananas. On Death and Dying is a mocking and macabre look at the institutions of death—how hospitals and religions “manage” death. The tape resolves in the conclusion that “death is a job that you do by yourself.”

2002
One Mile per Minute

Take a joyride through comfortable suburbia—a landscape molded by seductive television and corporate America (and keep in mind: disaster is another logo for your consumption...). This is the age of the "culture jammed" consumer preened with Friends hair, Survivor courage, and CNN awareness. A generation emptying their wallets for the most important corporate product of all: lifestyle. The psychological road trip across a slightly battered America travels at One Mile per Minute.

2003
Papillon d'amour

By subjecting fragments from the Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon to a mirror effect, Provost creates a hallucinatory scene of a woman’s reverse chrysalis into an imploding butterfly. This physical audiovisual experience produces skewed reflections upon Love, its lyrical monstrosities, and a wounded act of disappearance.

2006
Paul and the Badger: Episodes 1 to 4

The Badger Series has issues and attempts, each episode, to resolve them. Recasting a glove puppet show through his own present day sensibilities, Paul assumes the role of kindly uncle mentor to a household of capersome woodland creatures. Mortality, self-sacrfice, depression, altered states of consciousness and transgressive art practices are all explored as part of their everyday lives together.

2010
Paul and the Badger: Episodes 5 to 8

The Badger Series has issues and attempts, each episode, to resolve them. Recasting a glove puppet show through his own present day sensibilities, Paul assumes the role of kindly uncle mentor to a household of capersome woodland creatures. Mortality, self-sacrifice, depression, altered states of consciousness and transgressive art practices are all explored as part of their everyday lives together.

2002
Perfect Spot

A daughter leads her mother on a rope while they take a walk, looking for a place where the mother can bid her final farewell. Before she leaves, they have a picnic, she sings a song, and they chat about the family. An absurd domestic drama played out against the background of a summer’s day by the seaside.

2012
Ben Russell & Jim Drain, PONCE DE LEÓN

“I could do wonders if I didn't have a body. But the body grabs me, it slows me, it enslaves me.”

-- Ponce de Léon

1995
A Prayer for Nettie

A Prayer For Nettie dramatizes the death of an elderly woman who was Cumming’s photographic model from 1982 to 1993, presenting an improvised series of prayers and memorials for Nettie Harris by people who knew her, and some who did not. In its ambiguous mix of tenderness and aggression, A Prayer For Nettie extends the traditions of the grotesque and the absurd. The fervent prayers of the actors are undermined by indifference, forgetfulness, and the presence of the camera. In the end, comedy turns the tables on piety and remembrance as Nettie looks up from the grave.

1989
Precious Products

In Precious Products we are subtly reminded of this country’s obsession with consumerism and narcissism. George, with his ever-present video-8 camera, attends an opening of Precious Products—an exhibition of artworks satirizing art as commodity. He leaves the art world of San Francisco to spend a Christmas holiday with friends in their opulent home. Ironically, this is the home of a celebrity (another kind of commodity), Russian defector/ballerina Natalia Makanova. Surrounded by all the luxuries of life and Makanova’s image, George muses about death.

2017

VDB TV: Decades, The 1980s

An original program for VDB TV: Decades curated by Steve Reinke.

2006
Regarding the Pain of Susan Sontag (Notes on Camp)

Continues the journey from the final sequence of Ask the Insects. We turn away from the graveyard, enter the schoolyard, approach the old crippled tree spinning, and sit under it to draw a little cartoon for the New Yorker, while--through some sort of temporal displacement--New Year’s resolutions are being made."