Death and Dying

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 this antiqued period piece, the morbid star, Lupe Velez, travels to Hollywood, Guanajuato, and Barcelona, seeking her own death."

—Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archives, April 1998

This title is also available on Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas.

41 Shots, 2000

19 out of the 41 shots fired in 10-seconds by four members of the NYPD Street Crimes Unit hit the defenseless body of one Amadou Diallo as he stood in the vestibule of the building where he lived in the Bronx. This video essay seizes on the grotesquely bald, factual precision of this numerical data, proceeding remorselessly on up from number 1 to 41, rubber-banding 10-seconds into fourteen minutes, and then snapping it tight, in an intense, formal contemplation of how police violence is produced and then addressed by other forces on the city streets.

753 McPherson Street employs both original and found footage to represent a very old, passionate, and sometimes lucrative business — a funeral home, in Mansfield, Ohio. The title refers to its street location situated in Everson’s childhood environs.

Cast: DeCarrio Couley.

This title is only availalbe on Broad Daylight and Other Times: Selected Works of Kevin Jerome Everson.

"Renwick recounts a sad time in her life, when a friend was dying and she suddenly became aware of the presence of crows... [Renwick] craft[s] a lyrical and moving essay that works its magic through poetic accretion rather than narrative logic."
— Holly Willis, L.A. Weekly

The HalfLifers exhume cinema’s favorite incarnation of mindless, decaying mortality, the Zombie, in the hopes of breathing new life into this misunderstood figure. From a panel discussion in an old TV studio to a quarantined helicopter high above California’s rolling hills, these life-challenged entities walk, talk, and chew over some of the more difficult questions of this “whole linear birth-death system."

This title is also available on HalfLifers: The Complete History.

In the aftermath of a death things may seem very quiet, but there are struggles going on so deep not even those who struggle can recognize them.  This film looks and listens for signs of those struggles.  Psychoanalytic interjections consider the nature of time and rumination, and are used to step outside of the terribly interiorized state of mourning.

-- Jennifer Montgomery

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

The horizon, where the sky and the earth meet, is always elsewhere, a promised place where these two elements come together. A metaphor, an orienting, a promise of transition, change, transcendence. A place where the corporeal and spiritual meet, or are cleaved apart.

This absurdist, microscopic film noir follows the activities of an underground network of ill people, desperate to create alternative methods of self-care in a world where natural resources are disappearing. While examining the meaning of health, disease, and well-being in the post-industrial world, Apple Grown In Wind Tunnel imagines the development of a culture at the margins, linked by illicit radio broadcasts, toxic waste sites, the highway, and ultimately by the overwhelming desire to find a cure.

Ascensor, 2019

Ascensor is an exploration of grief, longing and mysticism through a queer lens. It documents a syncretic ritual that culls from the magical reverberations in Mexican culture to process the unexpected loss of a dear friend. The repetition of the ritual eventually leads to the transcendence of physical space, transforming unrelenting ache into shining resilience.

Nine micro-essays on animation and death--with many appearances including Goethe, Pink Floyd and Bambi--leads to a final encounter and introduction.

Benares, 1998

"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.

Big_Sleep™ explores problems in our archival urges. Via a single-channel desktop screencast, informatic elements ebb and flow—creating and relating interface absences. These gaps suggest that no amount of hard drive space can defy mortality. The only way to fully prepare our media for the future is to prepare ourselves for a future apart. The piece presents material from the late William Birch, one of the most important Fox Movietone cinematographers. Examining his now-decaying body of work—we find an argument for access in the present, not cold storage for a potential future.

CB, 2011

CB is an experimental bio-pic: its heroine, Charlotte Brontë. A collaboration between Doug Ischar and Tom Daws, CB was commissioned by the Laumeier Museum, St. Louis, for their inaugural Nightlight series.

The Chocolate Factory is a suite of monologues in the voice of a fictionalized serial killer, one monologue for each victim. The camera, with an almost structuralist rigor, pans up and down simple line drawings of each of the seventeen victims. A Black Sabbath song, picked apart and extended, serves as punctuation and soundtrack. Reinke has described the video as, "My autobiography as Jeffrey Dahmer."  But really, as the narrator says, "It's all about the victims."

Cilaos, 2016

To keep a promise made to her dying mother, a young woman goes off in search of her father, a womanizer she has never met. Along the way, she soon learns that he is dead. But that doesn’t change her plans, she still intends to find him. Carried by the spell-binding rhythm of the Maloya, a ritual chant from Réunion Island, Cilaos explores the deep and murky ties that bind the dead and the living.

come lontano is a perverse historical romance in which two lives are exposed, inter-mixed, doused with sentiment, and — hopefully — redeemed. The work revolves around a central ‘couple’ — Pier Paolo Pasolini and Maria Callas. There is a third main character, an ambiguous villain made of steel, glass and rubber. Each member of our central couple has her/his own external distractions which impinge — to varying degrees — on their brief, ecstatic encounter. This encounter was in fact a cinematic collaboration; it’s product the film Medea (1969).

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

Culture, 2002

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!"

The police phoned. They left a message on the machine. They said he was dead. The video unwinds through stories of sex for rent, unclaimed bodies, cigarette burns, and other monuments of life’s long run from wall to wall. Cut the Parrot is three grotesque comedies in one: the stories of Gerry, Susan, and Albert. Songs of hope and heartbreak spill from the mouths of the performers. The order of impersonation rules.

Dad’s Stick features three objects that my father showed me shortly before he died. Two of these were so well-used that their original forms and functions were almost completely obscured. The third object seemed to be instantly recognizable, but it turned out to be something else entirely.

Danny, 1987

This video is a moving personal documentary about Danny, a friend of Kybartas who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1986. This powerful work explores the reason for Danny’s return home and his attempts to reconcile his relationship with his family members who had difficulty facing his homosexuality and his imminent death. Retracing Danny’s memory of his once-high lifestyle in the clubs and gyms of Miami, Danny avoids sentimentalizing its subject as it juxtaposes images, text, and voice-over to build a sense of the psychological struggle brought on by Danny’s impending, premature death.

A portrait of risk and language, DAREDEVILS, presents the experimental narrative of a writer as she interviews a well-known artist and feels the reverberations of their discussion throughout her day. Visually spare, still and verbose, the video considers three formal handlings of language—a dialog, two monologues and a song.

Starring KimSu Theiler, Flora Coker and Adam Robinson, shot by Matthew Thompson, and featuring the voices of Susan Howe and Jenny Graf, DAREDEVILS constructs a metaphor of an artist’s life and work as daredevilry.