Mental Landscape

A familiar landscape comprised of big box stores and parking lots proves a rich site for longing, intimacy, and radical change. Celebrities are observed in this environment and are reduced to ordinary beings in the process. An enigmatic protagonist reveals little moments of subjectivity that escape into the piece like a contaminant, rupturing the view and evidencing the paradox of connection and belonging within systems that simultaneously contain us and comprise us.

The personal odyssey recorded in The Laughing Alligator combines methods of anthropological research with diaristic essay, mixing objective and subjective vision. Recorded while Downey and his family were living among the Yanomami people of Venezuela, this compelling series of anecdotes tracks his search for an indegenous cultural identity.

In the film Mad Ladders, the prophetic ramblings of an unseen narrator recount fantastical dreams of the coming Rapture, as crystalline imagery of rolling clouds gives way to heavily-processed video of moving stage sets from The American Music Awards telecasts of the 1980s and early 1990s. Blooming and pulsing in and out of geometric abstraction, this swirling storm of rising curtains, spinning set pieces, and unveiled pop idols forms an occult spectacle, driven by its impassioned narrator and an 8-bit leitmotif.

Combining Rubnitz’s skillful manipulation of the familiar “look” of TV shows with an extraordinary range of characters, performer Ann Magnuson convincingly impersonates the array of female types seen on TV in a typical broadcast day. From glitzy to drab, from friendly housewife to desperate evangelist, Magnuson is a one-woman universe appearing on every channel, the star of every program—giving her all as the chameleon woman who is always on display.

Combining Rubnitz’s skillful manipulation of the familiar “look” of TV shows with an extraordinary range of characters, performer Ann Magnuson convincingly impersonates the array of female types seen on TV in a typical broadcast day. From glitzy to drab, from friendly housewife to desperate evangelist, Magnuson is a one-woman universe appearing on every channel, the star of every program—giving her all as the chameleon woman who is always on display.

Sara Magenheimer earned her MFA at Bard in 2013 and has since shown her work internationally in Canada, Iceland, the Czech Republic, and Denmark. Her cross-disciplinary practice plays with the juxtaposition between the form and content of language, exposing the absurdity of expected meanings.

Mama, 2005

"Mama mama mama...," a woman calls out again and again, over and over. Is it her child that she mimics, or is she calling for her own mother? A desperate video performance in the first person.

A distinguished looking man (performance artist Richard Layzell) is apparently trapped in an ever changing void of colour, locked in a power play with a perversely operated camera. A mute, caged, charismatic TV presenter he is by turns charming, menacing, educational, confused. At times he appears to have great powers. A voiceover tells us extraordinary things — how this man is special — the first man to 'have a baby'. Hallucinogenic flash-frames punctuate the colour field to give us a view of his world's disturbing and alien futuristic logic.

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.

Revelers at a masquerade ball enter an UnderWorld of guilt, vice, pain, chaos and redemption.

-- Mike Kuchar

A rose scented breeze enters a young man's, winding it's cool arms around him... Together they will roam the darkness of his life.

There is no future in reproduction. I have no concern with any species extending itself through time. You think you have given birth to a baby, when really you have given birth to a bus driver, or tax collector. Instead I'm interested in the placenta, the real mother of us all, forgotten discarded. The softest machine, all lipids and blood, that blooms and rots like any vegetal/floral martyr. That umbilical cord did not connect you to your mother. It connected you to that most partial of objects — the placenta — part you, part mom, all martyr and garbage.

Nightfall, 2013

...Night is upon them and God was asleep.

They walk through 'life,' sometimes with no 'compass' in hand and become 'lost.'

The archive is not a repository of cultural memory, but of dreams, a bank of dream material. Both memory and archive embrace death, but from contrary positions. The archive is a mausoleum that pretends to be a vast garden. Memory is an irradiated zoo in which the various animals are mutating extravagantly and dying slowly.

-- Steve Reinke

Be careful when you go out into the surf in a skimpy thong... the current can be treacherous and turbulent as is the human heart!

Take a joyride through comfortable suburbia—a landscape molded by seductive television and corporate America (and keep in mind: disaster is another logo for your consumption...). This is the age of the "culture jammed" consumer preened with Friends hair, Survivor courage, and CNN awareness. A generation emptying their wallets for the most important corporate product of all: lifestyle. The psychological road trip across a slightly battered America travels at One Mile per Minute.

The Only Ones Left (three-channel video installation*), featuring actor Jim Fletcher, weaves film noir and mafia genre references with CEO diatribes, while also exposing the conventions of the feature film climax. The three channels of video depict all plot points of the Hollywood film climax concurrently. The channels are arranged chronologically from left to right. This simultaneity draws attention to the familiarity of the subject matter and the inevitability of the violent consequences awaiting the characters.

Operation Atropos is a documentary about interrogation and POW resistance training. Director Coco Fusco worked with retired U.S. Army interrogators who subjected her group of women students to immersive simulations of POW experiences in order to show them what hostile interrogations can be like and how members of the U.S. military are taught to resist them. The group of interrogators is called Team Delta, and they regularly offer intensive courses that they call "Authentic Military Experiences" to civilians.

A "young woman who finds herself surrounded by the relics of Western culture" is the subject of Richard Foreman's formal tableaux. The narration centers on a young woman's struggle to find a relation between her body and her self as mediated by language. The text is a poetry of formal relations that carries personal and historical implications, including the desires of the woman paradoxically voiced by a male narrator. The title suggests the vivid virtuality of dreaming; scenes repeatedly refer to both reading and sleeping.

PANEL, 2014

PANEL originated as a performance-based, multi-channel video/sound installation, drawn from a transcript of a discussion at “Schizo Culture,” the notorious conference on schizophrenia and radical politics organized by Sylvère Lotringer at Columbia University in 1975.

By subjecting fragments from the Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon to a mirror effect, Provost creates a hallucinatory scene of a woman’s reverse chrysalis into an imploding butterfly. This physical audiovisual experience produces skewed reflections upon Love, its lyrical monstrosities, and a wounded act of disappearance.

Christmas Eve. A man alone finds someone he can talk to.

"Pétit Jesus, a man speaks in his native French about his loneliness, his desperate need for love. The content of his speech is a poem of his own creation which he holds in his hand (off-camera) and from which he recites. With tears and snot pouring from his face, and a voice wracked with sobs, his "performance" is compelling in its rawness, its stark honesty."

--Scott McLeod, Curator, Moving Stills, Gallery 44, Toronto, 2000

Platonic, 2013

In Dani Leventhal’s Platonic, geometric specters twirl in space; pet cats foam at the mouth; a little boy mistakes his junkie dad for a superhero; and a confused adolescent worries he has sired a centaur. Platonic references both the ancient philosopher’s metaphysics of ideal Forms, which simultaneously exist outside our perceptions and yet give rise to them, and the related meaning in common parlance of non-romantic love.

Polycephaly in D is a densely collaged exploration of the existential drift, collective trauma, and psychological free-fall of the contemporary moment. Leaping, falling, and meeting your new self in an earthquake; we lose one head so as to grow another.