Health

Last Man, 2020

Last Man is made of the raw footage of security cameras that stream online. During the spring 2020 lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dana Levy, who lives in New York, monitored the images transmitted live from security cameras in city centers and at airports, beaches, universities, restaurants, and zoos around the world. In them, these key venues, which in normal times are bustling with life, appear nearly devoid of human presence.

140 Over 90 is about the crisis of hypertension in the Black community.

Cast: DeCarrio Couley, James Williams.

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

50 Blue, 2009

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.

Donigan Cumming’s improvisational style traverses the boundaries of tragedy and comedy, drama and documentation. In After Brenda, Cumming redefines the genre of popular romance. His abject hero is Pierre, a fifty-something male who has lost everything in the name of love. He is homeless and adrift, an unwanted guest with nothing to offer but a tale. After Brenda searches the hearts and rooms of his audience, seizing the evidence of sex, love, and survival.

alexia, 2000

alexia is an experimental video about word-blindness and metaphor. Word-blindness is a condition that usually afflicts people who have suffered a stroke, causing them to lose the visual recognition of individual letters but perceive the entire word, or vice versa. Metaphor is here discussed in its function to reveal and obscure perception. Divided into five short sections, the video draws a pattern with the motif of the finger and the moon to ruminate on language and blindness.

amaurosis, 2002

amaurosis is an experimental documentary about Dat Nguyen, a blind guitarist living in Little Saigon, Orange County, California. Dat Nguyen was a "triple outcast": blind, Amerasian, and an impoverished orphan. His American father left Viet Nam in 1973, and his mother died in 1975. Living on the streets of Saigon, he sold lottery tickets for food money. At the age of 12, Dat met a classical music teacher who was also blind and who taught him to read Braille as well as supported him.

Through the testimonies of five women, this video lays out the complex problem of anorexia, detailing how the disease develops as a response to both personal and societal pressures. The common thread in these accounts is how the disease clusters around a need to control one’s body, and how not-eating becomes a way to gain that control, with anxieties and frustrations being displaced onto a negative obsession with food.

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.

In this interview, American cartoonist and author Lynda Barry (b. 1956) describes the philosophy of teaching that has inspired and mobilized her art since the 1970s. For Barry, the connection between gesture and thought collide in drawing and expose the therapeutic possibilities of art. Whether teaching undergraduate art students or prison inmates, her goal is to help others develop art making skills as an “external immune system” that will protect and monitor their emotional and mental health.

In Birth of a Candy Bar, the young people who worked on the video participate in a pregnancy prevention and parenting program at Henry Street Settlement in New York City. The title of the video comes from a poem that comments on sex and birth by way of names of candy bars. ("...nine months later she had a Baby Ruth.") Poetry, fast-action music, dancing, interviews, statistics, street scenes, and docudramas are combined in segments written, taped, and produced by each participant—personalizing the problems of teenage pregnancy and assessing its causes. 

In The Body Parlor, both man and sheep as combined sacrificial bodies become subjects of biological investigation. As symbols of ritual sacrifice, they are bodies that give of themselves. In discovering new forms of health-care (regenerative medicine) and tissue engineering (such as stem cell research), the body becomes sacrificial material for the greater purpose of a social good. The performers employ the material objects, either as products of or as extensions of the body as a way of exploring giving from one's self in sacrifice.

Body Prep, 2001

Body Prep helps fortify and support the body during any level of activity—low, medium, or high intensity. It compares various alternatives to weightlifting with natural and artificial light sources. Exercise is explored through the change of seasons.

This title is also available on Animal Charm Videoworks: Volume 3, Computer Smarts.

Martha Rosler tackles mainstream media's representation of the case of surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead.

Citadel, 2020

Filmed from the artist’s window during lockdown, Citadel combines short fragments from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speeches relating to coronavirus with views of the London skyline recorded in a variety of weather conditions. Recognising the government’s decision to place business interests before public health, it relocates the centre of

The small cruelties of a subliminal fog roll in.  A pandemic thwarts intimacy. Perched from their little planets, this cast of wildly colorful creatures question their futures and navigate the longing for connection.

This is the fifth collaboration between Jessie Mott and Steve Reinke.

Covid Messages is a video in six parts, based around broadcasts of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 press conferences. The work focusses on the British government’s attempts to eliminate the virus through the use of magic spells and rituals. While the pandemic spreads and the death toll rises, the Prime Minister makes repeated errors of judgement. Exasperated by his many mistakes, the spirits of the dead rise up and intervene.

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.

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.

Susan Mogul's fantasies of success have always a comic, congenial twist, as in Dear Dennis, a video letter to Dennis Hopper inspired by her discovery that they share the same dentist. The central irony of this witty piece is that, despite Hopper's popular persona as an innovative, sub-cultural filmmaker and performer, the actual distance between his so-called independent" films and Mogul's experimental, non-commercial videos prevents Susan from finding any common ground from which to address Hopper other than the subject of dental work.

Delirium, 1993

Defiantly humorous in its tone, Delirium reflects Faber’s mother’s personal experience with what has been classified as “female hysteria.”  While never reducing her mother’s condition to a single explanation, Delirium firmly and convincingly links her illness to the historically embattled position women hold in a patriarchal culture. The video layers haunting imagery and humorous iconoclasm, referencing everything from television episodes of I Love Lucy to Charcot’s 19th Century photos of female hysterics.

Recognizing the extreme inadequacy of information on AIDS prevention, cosmetologist DiAna DiAna, with her partner Dr. Bambi Sumpter, took on the task of educating the black community (which makes up the majority of local AIDS cases) in Columbia, South Carolina. This video documents the growth of the South Carolina AIDS Education Network, which originated and operates in DiAna’s Hair Ego, DiAna’s beauty salon.

The first of the series includes:

What Does Away Mean? by Jem Cohen advertises the need to recycle through reconsideration of landfills and garbage disposal.

Pro-Choice is Pro-Life by Jane Pratt makes its point with the simple logic that every child should be cared for and wanted.

Historic Preservation by Jim McKay counsels for the preservation of historic buildings endangered by urban decay.

This video collects public service announcements created by a number of independent producers, including Jem Cohen and Michael Stipe of R.E.M.  Powerful and provocative, these PSAs address issues such as organic farming, abortion rights, street harassment, and the environment. Included are:

They Have Dreams by Natalie Merchant and Abigail Simon which focuses on the plight of homeless children.

The third compilation in this series of progressive, creative public service announcements for under-reported issues. Featuring various styles and formats, from street photography to optical printing, from edgy black and white film to hand-drawn animation, the seven spots in this latest installment are:

The Breathing Tree by Eric Darnell and Doug Loveid, an animated easy-to-understand explanation of how forests contribute to life by producing oxygen.