In the late 1970s, Walter Naegle was walking to Times Square to buy a newspaper when he ran into a striking older African American man on the corner. Walter says that “lightning struck” and his life changed forever at that moment. The man on the corner was Bayard Rustin.
In 50 Blue a young man (the artist’s brother) pushes an elderly disabled man (the artist’s father) in a wheel chair through a muddy landscape. It is a long and exhausting trip to an unknown destination only discovered at the end. After an arduous struggle the two arrive at the edge of a grey lake where a 10-meter high guard tower stands. The young man ties the wheel chair to a rope and hoists the old man up on the tower platform with the help of eight men, all dressed in yellow plastic raincoats.
“When I moved to Hudson Valley, NY state in 1984 after being tied to Tehching Hsieh in his ART/Life: One Year Performance, I began meeting remarkable elders over 80, and sometimes 90, years old. They became my mentors, guides, friends, helpers and spiritual directors. I took hours and hours of my footage to video artist Tobe Carey and he and I collaged it together collaboratively to make this document of these helpers along the way.”
Annie Lloyd is a daughter's poetic documentation of the last few years of her mother's life and an intimate portrayal of the creativity and wisdom of old age.
This title is also available on Cecelia Condit Videoworks: Volume 2
"In 1997 I went to Benares, India to study the Hindu practice of burning the bodies of their dead on the Ganges ghats. My purpose was:
1. To become more at ease with death, a hidden western phenomenon;
2. To de-fuse fear around seeing death;
3. To watch how Hindu elders congregate in Benares to die since dying here in this holy city guarantees "moksha", no rebirth. Visiting temples and ashrams for the elderly allowed me to observe how they use their time and prepare for their eventual passing.
Through a stack of personal journals, this video reconstructs a biography of the South Dakota-born, New York City-enlightened artist James Wentzy. Tracing his days starting out as a struggling artist and later involved as an AIDS activist, the video provides an intimate portrait of a neglected hero. Wentzy reads from journals and shares old family snapshots and notebook sketches. “I hope I don’t die of sainthood,” Wentzy jokes in an entry from 1990—the pivotal time when he was becoming involved with ACT-UP and beginning to live healthier after the revelation of his HIV-positive status.
In this interview American filmmaker, poet, and lyricist, Cecelia Condit gives shape to the contours of her work process. The artist describes the influence of her relationship with her mother, her long-term investment in the macabre, and her ongoing desire to confront death through art. While covering a broad range of topics, Condit’s discussion of her work and interests returns to several defining themes: aging, grotesqueness, and the notion of movement, both in terms of her own past as a dancer and the notion of the body in decay. With a particular emphasis on the production and context of her videos, Annie Lloyd (2008), and All About a Girl (2004), this interview offers insight into the artist’s fascination with aging, sweetness, and storytelling, while also articulating her joyful sense of discovery within the art-making process. No longer working with scripts, Condit presents herself in the interview as a scavenger–much like the crows she incorporates into her work–assembling videos which straddle the line between strange and silly. – Faye Gleisser
In 1993 President Mitterrand visited Korea. On this visit Mitterrand promised that he would restore to Korea the 297 volumes of the Oe-Kyujanggak Archives (the royal protocols of Chosun Dynasty in Korea), pillaged by the French army in 1866 and now part of the collections in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France). As a sign of intent, he assured the interested parties that a two-volume book, the Hyikyungwon-Wonsodogam-Uigwe, would be immediately returned.
“The idea was to address the cultural invisibility of older women through art and through action,” the voice-over explains as this video begins. This short works offers an introduction to the Whisper Minnesota Project, which organized The Crystal Quilt performance, an event that brought together hundreds of women over 60 on a Mother’s Day in Minneapolis. As the video explains, “The Crystal Quilt is a case study in reframing notions of older women’s beauty, power, and relevance. Through it we catch glimpses of life patterns and values lost to our generation.”
In his signature photographic style, Donigan Cumming eulogizes a dying friend through his exploration of “culture” in all its manifestations: 1. culture: a particular civilization at a particular stage 2. culture: the tastes in art and manners that are favored by a social group 3. culture: all the knowledge and values shared by a society 4. culture: the growing of micro-organisms in a nutrient medium 5. culture: the raising of plants or animals.
In this video, made soon after the death of his mother Stella, we accompany George to the wake, and on to a trip to Albert Maysles holiday home on Fisher's Island.
"Deep waters flow around the living, dead and inanimate objects that bring this picture to life on the wide screen tapestry of electronic reality. Come and join the young and old of eastern energies as they bask in the sun and shadows of past sins and future fortunes. See how the other side lives and devours the fruits and nuts that pepper this great nation with neon nutrients worthy of Broadway and beyond!"
Sassy, iconoclastic, and never-married, Los Angeles filmmaker Susan Mogul rides shotgun with ex-lovers, almost lovers, and her Dad, in a road movie turned inside out. Conversations with each driving man - pornographer, tuba player, TV critic, long haul truck driver, and more - are catalysts to reflect upon the past and comment about the present.
Filmed in Susan Mogul’s Los Angeles multi-ethnic working class neighborhood, Highland Park, Everyday Echo Street: A Summer Diary, is an insider’s view of how home and neighborhood are constructed in everyday relations. Composed of conversational and anecdotal portraits of neighbors and merchants, Susan ruminates about the past and the present, as she looks out her apartment window. Struggling to arrive at a new definition of “home,” she ponders loss, middle age, and living alone.
In Final Exit, an aged one is confronted with his options in blunt terms. Does he want to drag out his existence, increasingly infirm and a burden to his caretakers, or go quietly before resentment overwhelms sentiment? Does he wish to go on living, the quality of his life increasingly diminishing, or be euthanized? Would he prefer cremation or burial? This video confronts the issues of mortality and advancing decrepitude that faces even the friskiest.
'Misery' doesn't like 'company' -- but 'company' does love a 'party', so come join in on a catastrophic celebration, and do 'hang on' tight -- because it's a steep ride down into the depths of a soul in meltdown mode!
An allegory recycling images from the past, still relevant to the present moment.
“Horses are lucky, they’re stuck with the war same as us, but nobody expects them to be in favor of it, to pretend to believe in it.”
— Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night, 1932
I once read a story about the Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche in a book by death-teacher, Steven Levine. Trungpa went into his son's room and said to him, "I'm dying." And then he said to his son, "You are dying too." This story made a deep impression on me because death is the last taboo, the hidden boogey-man, the unspeakable. It was a beautiful lesson in impermanence this father gave his son.
An ailing, elderly man listens to a private performance in his room. The singing is a halting mix cross-cultural-Inuktitut and Country & Western. Transgressive and mesmerizing, Karaoke distorts the landscapes of sound and body.
Language Lessons entwines the search for the fountain of youth with the dream of a common language. The fountain both promises and frustrates eternity, while this dream offers hope for common ground. The lessons, made vivid by watery, elemental images and multiple voices, suggest that communication remains at the limits of our imagination.
Music by Pamela Z.
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.
Locke’s Way is the photographic path to knowledge, full of twists and turns, treacherously steep. What has happened down here? A family’s photographs tell us everything and nothing about the subterranean past. "One of the central questions of philosophy has always been: what can be known? Locke’s Way provides a vivid illustration of this perennial philosophical dilemma. In this short video, Donigan Cumming is preoccupied with the story of his older brother, who seems to have been brain-damaged and spent much of his life in institutions.
Loss Prevention combines documentary and fiction to tell the story of Irene, arrested at the age of 79 for stealing a bottle of aspirin from a Miami Wal-Mart and sentenced to ten weeks of Senior Citizen Shoplifting Prevention School. Narrated through the voice of her daughter, this film explores the alienation of aging and the evolving relationship between a daughter and an elderly mother.
A lonely dowager's last, desperate fling at reactivating her long dormant libido leads her on a path toward depravity and lurking danger.
From The Crystal Quilt performance, Suzanne Lacy, Phyllis Jane Rose, Nancy Dennis, Sage Cowles, Minneapolis, 1987.
Kipnis describes this tape as "an appropriation of the aesthetics of both late capitalism and early Soviet cinema—MTV meets Eisenstein—reconstructing Karl Marx for the video age.” She presents a postmodern lecture delivered by a chorus of drag queens on the unexpected corelations between Marx’s theories and the carbuncles that plagued the body of the rotund thinker for over thirty years. Marx’s erupting, diseased body is juxtaposed with the “body politic", and posited as a symbol of contemporary society proceeding the failed revolutions of the late 1960s.