3 Peonies is a brief, poetic 16mm film of a simple sculptural action. What becomes apparent is the humor possible in material interactions and the tender and sometimes melodramatic symbolism of cut flowers. The reverence for beauty ends up pointing towards the abstract expressionism and color field painting of high modernism that, in many cases, eschewed the banality of such ‘natural’ beauty.
This is a re-destroyed film that I was unable to finish in 2013. Filmed both in ruins: at the Sutro Baths in San Francisco and in final domestic spaces occupied with a former partner. Film was destroyed in ocean water.
A Pilot For A Show About Nowhere is a two-channel video that examines the politics of television viewership, incorporating footage from a number of sources to create a plurivocal narrative.
In an upmarket house surrounded by an idyllic garden, there is no trace of human presence, even though a family obviously lives there. Voices, sounds and superimposed text create a feeling of disquiet whose origin continually escapes us. “A house can feel pain”… Playing on a doubling of vignettes against a black background or on a sound design that brings the off-screen world to life, Shelly Silver resuscitates the memory of this space, if only because a “house is a subconscious… a body…” And what if all this opulence and comfort were based on the exploitation of others?
“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.”
The Diaspora Suite
Oscillating between a street festival in Philadelphia, the slave forts and capitol city of Ghana, and the New Jersey shore, American Hunger explores the relationship between personal experience and collective histories. American fantasies confront African realities. African realities confront America fantasies.
"This is the first of a set of pieces that involve combining a series of electronic video process recordings, musics, texts and appropriated materials. These multiple elements, simple and tricky grammars, trigger expanding electronic narratives. The trajectories and drags of multiple narratives color the electronics and visa a versa.
Another Clapping explores the relationship triangle between a daughter, her mother and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It is an experimental documentary based on the mother's violent past with its traumatic political history and an unsuccessful marriage. Through their subsequent experiences as immigrants in Canada and the complex process of remembering and reviewing the past, history comes to signify the characteristic of the individual. The tracing of memory illuminates the difficulties of identifying mother and daughter as different people.
“The individual is not an autonomous, solitary object but a thing of uncertain extent, with ambiguous boundaries. So too is matter, which loses much of its allure the moment it is reduced to an object, shorn of its viscosity, pressure and density. Both subject and matter resist their reduction into objects. Everything is interconnected and intertwined.”
— Kengo Kuma
Film- and videomaker Ken Kobland returns to the urban landscapes he filmed 20 years previously, such as the New York subway and the S-Bahn in Berlin. We leave, we travel, but it’s always the same images that we are drawn to. A moving road movie about eternal departure and arrival.
Jennifer, an intelligent but insecure 14-year-old student at a boarding school, seduces her married dormitory counselor, a photographer who has offered to teach her about his art and winds up shooting her in the nude. She is naive, and he manipulates her into an affair that eventually is discovered. Years later, as the photographer is being investigated by the FBI, the adult woman remembers her first love as a case of herself watching the artist who watched her.
Manipulating a variety of sources, Vasulka uses creative imaging tools to situate historical images against Southwestern landscapes of incredible beauty. Contorting the images into a variety of isomorphic forms, Vasulka creates a literal shape for these memories, developing these shapes as metaphors for the processes of fragmentation, condensation, and inversion, that inevitably contort fact into memory.
Amid the silence of a pastel hued room, a soul, fully-fleshed, gathers secrets whispered by the moon over his cool bedsheets.
"Blight was made in collaboration with composer Jocelyn Pook. It revolves around the building of the M11 Link Road in East London, which provoked a long and bitter campaign by local residents to protect their homes from demolition. Until 1994, when our houses were destroyed, both the composer and I lived on the route of this road. The images in the film are a selective record of some of the changes which occurred in the area over a two-year period, from the demolition of houses through to the start of motorway building work.
Fashioned out of home movies recovered from failing hard drives, this glitch-art video makes comparisons between different forms of memory - suggesting that, while error and decay may keep us up at night, they might also be the way we put our ghosts to bed.
-- Evan Meaney
A poetic meditation on distance, Come Closer is a short and peripatetic film, casting an affective web between the locations of Lisbon, San Francisco and Brazil. Focusing on Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz, musician Derrick Green –– the filmmaker’s brother and lead singer of Brazilian band Sepultura –– and her own work produced in Lisbon since 1992, Come Closer can be thought as a meditation on friendship and saudade.
"A cup and saucer, pouring and drinking coffee, a duration ritual of contemplation and invigoration, doubled (tape copied), mixed, keyed + synthetic color, normal play and rewinding, sync events, the opening of a space to put the self in. 1/2 inch b+w Portapack, 2 reel to reel video tape decks, David Jones keyer and colorizer."
– Peer Bode
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.
Ann Cvetkovich is the Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of a number of books and works also with documentary film, memoirs, music and dance performances, and visual art. Her work focuses on feminist and queer theory, affect and feeling, trauma, theories of the archive and oral history.
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.
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.
What happens when a man’s inner contemplations are his only company?
This title is only availible as part of the Mike Kuchar compilation Thoughts and Feelings.
“His heart was a dark cave filled with sharp toothed, fierce clawed beasts that ran snapping and tearing through his blood. In pain he left the work table and prowled around the room, singing to himself, ‘Who can I be tonight? Who will I be tonight?’”
—Alfred Chester, Exquisite Corpse (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967)