Politics

1996
Valerie Maynard: An Interview

In this 1996 interview, African-American sculptor, printmaker and designer Valerie Maynard (b.1937) describes growing up in Harlem in the mid-20th Century and her awareness of the importance of community during her upbringing. Recalling the prominence of the Baptist church in her early life, Maynard discusses how religion brought her into contact with local politicians who impressed upon her the importance of affecting change. The artist notes how an early affiliation with Congressman Adam Clayton Powell and her brother’s incarceration propelled her interest in social justice and the workings of the judicial system.

1985
Mike Builds A Shelter

Mike Builds a Shelter is a performance comedy with apocalyptic overtones, a narrative extension of Smith's installation Government Approved Home Fallout Shelter/Snack Bar. In this darkly humorous morality play, Smith contrasts Mike's rural adventures in a pastoral landscape with his home fallout shelter. Throughout, the dual narratives are intercut with episodes of Mike's Show on cable, in which Mike's banal domestic activities are eagerly if passively received by living-room TV viewers.

2006
Mohamed Yousry: A Life Stands Still

Mohamed Yousry: A Life Stands Still (also known as Good Translator) is a short documentary about Mohamed Yousry, a naturalized American citizen who's life changed radically after September 11, 2001. Mohamed immigrated to the United States in 1980. For the next twenty years, he developed a full and happy life, as a husband, father, and academic. On September 13, 2001 Mohamed was approached by the FBI on his doorstep in Queens, NY. After appeal processes and an attempt to extradite him, Mohamed was sentenced to four years in a federal penitentiary in Fort Worth, TX.

1970
Videofreex, Money

Taped on Prince Street in Soho, New York, Skip Blumberg creates a one-word performance.  Shouting the word "Money" over and over, he attracts the attentions of New York's finest. 

1969

In October 1969, the Videofreex visited the home of wealthy political and social activist, Lucy Montgomery, as she was hosting the Black Panther Party of Chicago during one of their most fraught times – the period just after Chairman Bobby Seale was wrongfully imprisoned for inciting riots at the Democratic National Convention a year earlier. This video documents an interview with the wife of Bobby Seale, Artie Seale.

1983
Antonio Muntadas: Video Portrait

Antonio Muntadas was born in 1942, in Barcelona, Spain. He went to the University of Barcelona for undergraduate work, then received his MA from the Escuela Tecnica Superior Ingenieros Industriales in Barcelona. In 1971 he moved to New York and studied at Pratt Graphics Center. Muntadas is a media artist most interested in the investigation of the social and educational aspects of media.

2004
Museum Piece

Made in Germany, October 14th, 2004

While the Iraq war continues, a day's sightseeing and the features of a German hotel provoke a stream of thoughts about events large and small.

Museum Piece is the second episode in the Hotel Diaries series, a collection of video recordings made in the world's hotel rooms, which relate personal experiences and reflections to contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.

2007

In this interview, American writer, artist, performer Eileen Myles (b.1949) discusses the various philosophies that motivate her work, including the language of film, embodied performance, and the alienation evoked by bodily vulgarity. Myles links her wide range of artistic and literary practice with notions of abstraction, improvisation, and the mythology of gender, which she explores in relation to her own identity as a working, middle-class lesbian woman. She reflects on the significance of geographical locations, both New York City and San Diego, on her art, and shares how her past struggles with addiction have shaped her life and practice.

1992
Nation

Commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and The American Center in Paris as part of their international Trans Voices project, Nation flashes contradictory formulations of language, politics, and medicine across a sharp and close screen. Blurring geography with the body's landscape, Nation reminds us that our bodies, like land, have been shaped by history into zones to be charted, conquered, divided, or made whole. "Think globally act locally," in one dense minute.

2014

Natural Life is a feature-length experimental documentary challenging inequities in the U.S. juvenile justice system by depicting, through documentation and reenactment, the stories of five individuals who were sentenced to Life Without Parole (Natural Life) for crimes they committed as youth.

1998
Joan Nestle: An Interview

In 1973 Joan Nestle co-founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives, an essential collection of documents, writings, and artifacts of lesbian cultural history. In 1979 she began writing erotic stories and has published two collections of writings: A Restricted Country (1987) and A Fragile Union (1998). She took a controversial stance in opposition to the 1980s feminist anti-pornography movement, thus becoming a fervent pro-sex activist in the “Sex Wars.” Interview by Nina Levitt.

1970
New Haven: Abbie Hoffman and the National Guard

Footage of a May 1970 rally featuring political speakers, including members of the Black Panther Party. Abbie Hoffman talks about fighting imperialism at home, and the Chicago 7 Conspiracy Trial. As the crowd chants “Free Bobby Seale,” the Videofreex attempt to interview several National Guardsmen. We see young black men talking to the troops, with one man telling a Guardsman, “I’ve got nothing... I went to Vietnam for you."

1996
No Blood/No Foul

From the performance by the same name, by Suzanne Lacy, Stan Hebert, Councilwoman Sheila Jordan, Frank Williams, Officer Terrance West, Mike Shaw, and Annice Jacoby, Oakland, 1995-6. Suzanne Lacy worked alongside youth activists, city council members and the mayor’s office to draft a Youth Policy Initiative that would create a dedicated stream of funding to serve youth needs. In the spring of that year, No Blood/No Foul was a performance on the eve of the Policy’s vote by the Oakland City Council, with Mayor, Council members and a large audience in attendance.

2004
No homeland/no fear

In 2002 PBS commissioned several Latino filmmakers to create a three-hour documentary on Latino arts" in the U.S. The segment for San Francisco was commissioned to Gustavo Vazquez, who in turn invited me to partake in the project. We decided to feature "re:group," a loose association of S.F.-based performance artists who had created "a multi-ethnic/multi-generational performance lab" in response to the perils of 9/11 and the dangers of the Bush era.

2003
Notes from the Underground

Notes from the Underground is a fragmented music video made from the 151 eye blinks George Bush made during his televised speech declaring war with Iraq. Bush’s eye blinks have been encoded into Morse Code to spell out a statement from 1969 by The Weather Underground.