Deathrow Notebooks is structured around an interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner, who is on death row in Pennsylvania. Former president of the Association of Black Journalists, Abu-Jamal is a writer and creator of widely broadcast radio programs who continues to write from prison. He was accused of killing a police officer and was convicted in a trial that contained many irregularities. To date, all of his appeals have failed.
Appropriated network-TV footage of Jimmy Carter’s "I see risk" speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention meets Reagan’s gloomy inaugural ride through D.C.: "If you succumb to a dream world, you’ll wake up to a nightmare."
In the midst of the 2011 revolution in Cairo, a few beduins listen to their car's radio near Jericho, a place which looks like the end of the world. Within moments this desolated landscape transfers into a busy tourist attraction as a bus full of Polish Pilgrims enter the landscape.
Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.
River ice sets the scene for Judy Garland's international justice cri de coeur. It's hard to understate the amount of anxiety created by a vice president who usurped authority for eight years to start wars and wreck the economy and then sidled off to Wyoming to be a retired Hero of the Right. Impunity is not just the stuff of autocratic dictatorships in the third world. The American form of impunity is going to get us all killed.
This video collects public service announcements created by a number of independent producers, including Jem Cohen and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Powerful and provocative, these PSAs address issues such as organic farming, abortion rights, street harassment, and the environment. Included are:
They Have Dreams by Natalie Merchant and Abigail Simon which focuses on the plight of homeless children.
The third compilation in this series of progressive, creative public service announcements for under-reported issues. Featuring various styles and formats, from street photography to optical printing, from edgy black and white film to hand-drawn animation, the seven spots in this latest installment are:
The Breathing Tree by Eric Darnell and Doug Loveid, an animated easy-to-understand explanation of how forests contribute to life by producing oxygen.
The Disappointment: Or, The Force of Credulity is a documentary about the search for four lost treasures buried on a single farm in Missouri. These treasures include a Spanish explorer's gold, silver from the Civil War, mysterious stone carvings, lost texts, and a wife's attempt to heal her husband and protect herself and her children. Part personal documentary and part historical essay, The Disappointment traces the patterns of cultural forgetting etched in the landscape of the Austin Farm.
Rosler calls Domination and the Everyday, with its fragmented sounds, images, and crawling text, an artist-mother's This Is Your Life. Throughout this work, we hear—but do not see—a mother and small child at dinner and bedtime while a radio airs an interview with a gallerist about Californian art of the 1960s. The soundtrack moves into overdrive with feedback, a passing train, barking dogs, and a bedtime story. The visuals, all still images, are drawn from television, movies, advertising, and the family album.
The Earth Is Young takes as its starting point a series of interviews conducted with Young Earth Creationists, who find evidence of a six-day, six-thousand-year old creation in their reading of the fossil and geological record. The film frames these encounters with depictions of the slow and patient work of young paleontologists, and the strange, shimmering life in a drop of pond water, both of which point toward a world far older and more complex, if no less fantastic.
Ecstasy Unlimited is an engaging video essay on the social construction of sexuality. Kipnis attempts to historicize pleasure and politicize desire, to reveal within the current discourse on sex — and within an ensemble of current sexual practices — the production of forms of sexuality that work to guarantee social order, rather than subvert it. Through various narrative ploys and theoretical tactics, the tape attempts to recover traces of a "political unconscious" in contemporary social malaise.
"A refreshing look at karaoke, psychedelic dance moves, and donuts all mashed together into a small and swinging film about a man who considers his private thoughts and private jokes worth sharing with a large audience. And it's unlikely that many would disagree."
Another chapter in the parallel-leftist-universe of Jim Finn, this video appears to be part of a communist self-help videotape series made in the early 1990's. The series author, Lois Severin, was responding to the move from mass sociopolitical engagement of the 60's and 70's to the personal fulfillment fantasies of the 80's – the Jane Fonda-ization of the Left. But these tapes were not merely a desperate attempt for Trotskyites to stay relevant in the neoliberal era. They were mimicking the Christian fundamentalist activists who organized in churches and community centers in the 70's.