Morayngava: the “design of things.” Yngiru: the box of the spirits, the films, just like xaman dreams. This is how the Asurini define video, which has just arrived in their village. After discovering that it is possible to store their images, the old men lament that they never stored images of their ancestors and decided to register the initiation of a xaman, a tradition threatened by new times.
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 Place is an experimental documentary focusing on the artist’s mother, a third-generation Chinese-Trinidadian who at 80 still has vivid memories of a history lost or quickly disappearing. She conveys these with a storytelling style and a frankness that is distinctly West Indian. A tape about memory, oral history, and autobiography, My Mother’s Place interweaves interviews, personal narrative, home movies, and verité footage of the Caribbean to explore the formation of race, class, and gender under colonialism.
NOMADS at the 25 DOOR is presented in three chapters and based around a series of interviews between Finley and Mickey Yates, a 22-year-old woman serving a double life sentence in the Nevada Women’s Correctional Institution for the murder of her mother. Interweaving interview excerpts with footage of the upheaval in Eastern Europe, the tape explores the memory’s construction of an ephemeral homeland when a concrete one is lost, stolen or left behind.
Oued Nefifik: A Foreign Movie is an experimental narrative that incorporates an actual political situation. The film was shot in the immediate aftermath of violent repression following food riots in Casablanca, June 1981. It characterizes the experience of a political event for people outside of it. The point of view is that of an absurd and sympathetic character based on Jacques Tati’s Mr Hulot, who is distanced from the post-colonial milieu in which he finds himself.
This video proposes an ironic metaphor to grasp the follies of U.S. government action and inaction in Central America. The process of learning U.S. policy is similar to the process of a young child acquiring the principles of language. These dual senses of literacy operate on several levels, situating a child’s consciousness within the contradictions of history comments on the illusory innocence of childhood, and the unexamined, but real, guilt of the U.S. government, its supporters and clients.
An experimental video about immigration. Looking at the potato (which was first cultivated in Peru) Papapapá paints a picture of a vegetable that has traveled and been transformed—following the migrating potato North where it becomes the potato chip, the couch potato, and the french fry. Papapapá simultaneously follows another Peruvian in motion, the artist’s father, Augusto Rivera. The stories of the two immigrants, the potato and Papa Rivera, converge as Augusto becomes a Peruvian couch potato, sitting on an American sofa, eating potato chips and watching Spanish language television.
Pemp traces the 25-year struggle of the Parakatêjê (Gavião) to maintain autonomy in the face of huge development projects in the south of Pará. From the initial recovery of their lands in 1957 through dealings with FUNAI in the 1970s and the appropriation of Brazil nut monopolies to their current negotiations with the government, Pemp shows the Parakatêjê’s most precious project; the preservation of their ceremonies and songs. The Kokrenum, chief and keeper of the group’s traditions, uses video to transmit them to future generations.
Pochonovela is a bilingual, bicultural blend of Latin America’s and the United States’ most popular television genres—the telenovela and the sitcom, respectively. The humor and madness of life in East Los Angeles are captured here in performances by members of the Los Angeles-based comedy troupe, Chicano Secret Service, and other U.S. Latino actors. This provocative comedy touches on political, social, cultural, linguistic, and family issues attendent to the cross cultural life of Mexican Americans living near or on the border—both psychologically and geographically.
A historical analysis of the on-going war in the Western Sahara. Liza Bear interviews Abdullah Majdid, the Polisario Front's United Nations representative. The tape addresses Morocco's U.S.-backed military effort to subjugate the indigenous Sahrawi population and annex one of the world's largest phosphate deposits, as well as the Sahrawis' conditions for a referendum.
A caricature of a professor teaching English to non-native speakers. Her mannerisms, her accent, the content of her speech—all are absurd, in the tradition of an Ionesco character. Images of the professor alternate with collages, many taken from Bobe’s other works. Through its ironic humor, La Profesora foregrounds the absurdity of teaching English in a country where many cannot read their native language. The prevalence of the English language in post- and neo-colonial societies is thus called into question, both politically and socially.
How useful is personal testimony to History? The most abstract of all the works that focus on personal narrative in this program is certainly Lisa Steele’s Birthday Suit with scars and defects, in which the artist gently caresses every scar on her body, names it, dates it, and describes the circumstances in which the scar was inscribed. These are traces that defy memory, and that indeed become an alternative memory. Steele’s video presents us with an abstraction of oneself, almost a schema of the body as it becomes a register of violence.
California has been multicultural for at least 100 years, home to Indians, Spaniards, and Anglos. An 1884 romance novel, in fact, paired a half-European/half-Indian woman with the son of a Luiseño Indian chief. This experimental video essay examines the conventional wisdom on mixing of the races and includes popular movie images from Elvis Presley’s film Flaming Star, The Last of the Mohicans, and West Side Story.
Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return.