Crime or Violence

This video develops from a real event that took place during a theater seminar in the masters degree program at the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Columbia.  The seminar occurred during one of the university's worst periods of violence.  Two students in charge of a presentation on the life and work of French author Jean Genet decided to play a hoax on their fellow students - a hoax that involved an armed kidnapping.  Their idea was to perform the ethos of Genet's work rather than to represent it in a conventional way.

In this tape, shot in August 1970, a number of Hells Angels are interviewed on the street in New York City. They talk about their bikes and their preparations for a “run”, and their reactions to the way they are portrayed by the mainstream media.

Home Movies Gaza introduces us to the Gaza Strip as a mircrocosm for the failure of civilization. In an attempt to describe the everyday of a place that struggles for the most basic of human rights, this video claims a perspective from within the domestic spaces of a territory that is complicated, derelict, and altogether impossible to separate from its political identity.

"... Basma Alsharif’s Home Movies Gaza, a film that captures the impossibly politicized domestic sphere of the Gaza Strip, under the constant hum and buzz of overhead drones."

Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (English Version) is an experimental documentary about "The Western Hostage Crisis." The crisis refers to the abduction and detention of Westerners like Terry Anderson, and Terry Waite in Lebanon in the 80s and early 90s by "Islamic militants." This episode directly and indirectly consumed Lebanese, U.S., French, and British political and public life, and precipitated a number of high-profile political scandals like the Iran-Contra affair in the U.S.

A formidable collage of striking images, this powerful and provocative work confronts racial violence through images of ecological mayhem, machismo, pornography, and Third World poverty — images which return to the taboo body of a black man. "Directed and produced by our culture," An I for An I studies how violence is internalized and psychologized by overlapping soundtracks, printed texts, recurrent images, doctored footage and split screens. The piece attacks racist culture and pleads for an alternative recourse to violence.

“Images from the maximum-security prison in Corcoran, California. A surveillance camera shows a pie-shaped segment of the concrete yard where the prisoners, dressed in shorts and mostly shirtless, are allowed to spend half-an-hour a day. When one convict attacks another, those not involved lay flat on the ground, arms over their heads. They know that when a fight breaks out, the guard calls out a warning and then fires rubber bullets. If the fight continues, the guard shoots real bullets. The pictures are silent, the trail of gun smoke drifts across the picture.

I've Been Afraid is a musical encyclopedia about how women get abused, and why it is they stay. It uses emojis that are as ubiquitous as abuse is in our culture.

Music by Isaac Sherman

A woman raises her voice and gives a painful and endless speech that with time becomes even more overwhelming, because her words are heartbreaking and permanent impressions in the collective memory, stabbing with words an old Mexican film, a celluloid that tears apart until its disappearance.

This title is also available on the compilation What Was Always Yours and Never Lost.

An uncompromising look at the ways privacy, safety, convenience and surveillance determine our environment. Shot entirely at night, the film confronts the hermetic nature of white-collar communities, dissecting the fear behind contemporary suburban design. An isolation-based fear (protect us from people not like us). A fear of irregularity (eat at McDonalds, you know what to expect). A fear of thought (turn on the television). A fear of self (don’t stop moving).

"When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you'll shut your eyes. You'll close your eyes to the pictures. Then you'll close them to the memory. And then you'll close your eyes to the facts." These words are spoken at the beginning of this agitprop film that can be viewed as a unique and remarkable development. Farocki refrains from making any sort of emotional appeal. His point of departure is the following: "When napalm is burning, it is too late to extinguish it. You have to fight napalm where it is produced: in the factories."

A queer rewriting of the events surrounding the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago from the point of view of French writer Jean Genet. Along the way Genet will meet, amongst others, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, the Yippies, the Black Panther Party and the Chicago police force... Ultimately, the video is about the difficulty of aligning political and sexual desires.

La Bouche, 2017

A man learns his daughter has been brutally murdered by her husband. Time stands still as he oscillates between the need for solace and his urge for revenge. La Bouche is an experimental musical featuring Guinean percussion master Mohamed Bangoura (“Red Devil”), loosely based on his own story.

Letters, conversations: New York-Chicago, Fall, 2001 is driven by a fragmented voice-over that criss-crosses between two female voices – one seemingly formal and distant, the other more conversational and intimate. It begins with short excerpts from emails, phone conversations and letters between friends, family, ex-lovers and acquaintances in the days and weeks following September 11th, 2001.

Lisa, 2001

Two women occupy one space. Without showing their faces, the camera lingers on their bodies in images that capture both from an extreme high angle. The camera distorts the female body, even creating a grotesque effect. A voice repeatedly calls for a woman: “Lisa, come here, don’t be afraid… that’s it, I won’t hurt you.” A video which explores the gaze on the female body, and the desires and violence overwhelming it.

This title is also available on Hester Scheurwater Videoworks: Volume 1.

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.

Love Songs #1 is composed of three pieces that pose questions about urban culture, race, and politics. Found footage images are manipulated and juxtaposed with popular music; the effects are unsettling, ironic, and sometimes humorous.

After an all-night session of editing Free Society, Garrin headed home with video-8 camera in-hand, only to happen upon the Tompkins Square riots. As police tried to enforce a curfew aimed at removing homeless people from the park, Garrin began gathering footage of cops beating up protesters. He was then attacked by police himself, as the camera continued to roll. The footage was subsequently incorporated into Free Society, in which the military myth of "protect and serve" is dismantled by first-hand experience.

Despite assurances from local municipalities, a fact of life is that Manholes blow sky high more frequently than most people realize. Manhole 452 directs the viewer’s attention to the shapes, sizes and patterns of manhole covers on Geary Street in San Francisco, and then plunges deep below into the manholes themselves to explore the hidden threat that lies below.

Money, 1970

Taped on Prince Street in Soho, New York City, Skip Blumberg creates a one-word performance. Shouting the word "money" over and over, he attracts the attention of New York's finest. The video crew attempt to explain to the policemen that there is no public disorder as the streets were empty when they began to tape.

The video is an unwitting early example of the reaction of the state to the use of video cameras on the streets.

The Nazi-Loop ponders the horror of the Holocaust and the social diseases that characterized it: ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and anti-semitism. Images and text from Weimar and Nazi Germany are woven into a complex montage, which includes representations of contemporary neo-Nazism and those who oppose it. Also woven in are essays by social thinkers that reflect upon the meaning of the historical horror of the Holocaust. The Nazi-Loop suggests that the obsessive ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism of past times and places is cyclical and present, here and now.

In a version of the “teenage diary,” Benning places her feelings of confusion and depression alongside grisly tales from tabloid headlines and brutal events in her neighborhood. The difficulty of finding a positive identity for oneself in a world filled with violence is starkly revealed by Benning’s youthful but already despairing voice.

This title is also available on Sadie Benning Videoworks: Volume 1.

No Is Yes, 1998

A combination of experimental and narrative approaches which explore the commodification of rebellion as it is marketed to youth culture, through the eyes of two drug-dealing, teenage girls from Brooklyn who "accidentally" kill and mutilate their favorite alternative rock star. Their obsession with murders and makeovers and their confusion between fashion and transgression lead these girls into a world where nihilism is bought and sold, and rebellion is impossible.

O.U.T. is a work documenting the emergence of computer games which train players to fight in cities among civilians, (Military Operations in Urban Terrain). O.U.T. contains sampled footage and machinima (stories told with video games) from five military simulation games. Following is a documentation of the performance, (Operation Urban Terrain), an urban wireless intervention by Anne-Marie Schleiner and an international cast of game expert and art activist collaborators.

ocularis, 1997

This video highlights several narratives concerning video surveillance—not to reiterate the conventional privacy argument but rather to engage the desire to watch surveillance materials and society’s insatiable voyeurism. A variety of subjects recount their interactions with surveillance—getting caught in the act of stealing or watching pornography, being discouraged from making an illegal ATM withdrawal—and question technological determinism, asking whether we choose to develop technology or technology shapes our choices.

Juxtaposing the text of Off Limits, a film made in 1987 about Saigon circa 1968, with the soundtrack and image of the last five minutes of Easy Rider, made in 1968, Tajiri parallel edits these representations to play with the evocation and emptiness of the image. Tajiri blacks out the screen image of Easy Rider while the words of a Vietnamese assassin crawl up the screen, building a structure of selective memory. Tajiri’s Off Limits points to the similarities and contradictions between 1960s hippie iconography and memories of the Vietnam War.