History

Conakry, 2013

Staged at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Conakry is a sequence shot on 16mm film that travels through time, space and media to revisit one film reel from the Guinean archive. This particular reel documents an exhibition curated by Amílcar Cabral at the Palais du Peuple in 1972 in Conakry, Guinea, reporting on the state of the war against Portuguese rule. César invited the Portuguese writer Grada Kilomba and the American radio activist Diana McCarty to reflect on these images and their history.

The fragment contains within it an implied reference to something that was once whole. It suggests damage and violence, time and distance. These qualities I found were integral to my own constitution, and it was with the making of Cooperation Of Parts that this became clear.

“Misfortune makes and breaks you.” I have the misfortune of a history of disruptions, and the fortune of having that history to work with.

In 1993 President Mitterrand visited Korea. On this visit Mitterrand promised that he would restore to Korea the 297 volumes of the Oe-Kyujanggak Archives (the royal protocols of Chosun Dynasty in Korea), pillaged by the French army in 1866 and now part of the collections in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France). As a sign of intent, he assured the interested parties that a two-volume book, the Hyikyungwon-Wonsodogam-Uigwe, would be immediately returned.

A portrait of Luce Vigo, film critic, educator, and the daughter of pivotal French filmmaker Jean Vigo. Commissioned by the Spanish documentary festival, Punto de Vista, the film incorporates Luce's memories of her extraordinary life, reflections on her father, and images of Northern Spain.

Footage from the May Day 1971 events in Washington DC. Davidson, a Videofreex member, gets arrested, and what follows is rarely seen footage of the inside of the detainment bus and the jail cell, videotaped by an arrestee.

The house in the film is Maison de l'Armateur, "the ship owner's house", one of the few houses in Le Havre, France that remained in tact after the city was completely destroyed in the allied bombings of D-Day, 1944. The work deals with the desire to preserve and organize objects, and by doing so, to tell a specific historical tale. It also deals with nostalgia to a world that no longer exists, and perhaps never did.

Appropriated network-TV footage of Jimmy Carter’s "I see risk" speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention meets Reagan’s gloomy inaugural ride through D.C.: "If you succumb to a dream world, you’ll wake up to a nightmare."

This title is also available on Presidents and Elections.

1933. Berlin. The last year of the Wiemar Republic. Through the lense of her personal "home movies", Leni Riefenstahl records a day in her life with a young Eva Braun.

Die Neue Frau is the third film in the The Surface Tension Trilogy, a three-part short film trilogy looking at queer artists living in Berlin during the 1920s. Shot on hand-processed 16mm film.

Executive produced by Sara Diamond at the Banff Art Centre, co-produced by Michelle Baughn and Suzanne Lacy, directed by Tom Weinberg and Dick Carter, and edited by Holen Kahn.

The Disappointment: Or, The Force of Credulity is a documentary about the search for four lost treasures buried on a single farm in Missouri. These treasures include a Spanish explorer's gold, silver from the Civil War, mysterious stone carvings, lost texts, and a wife's attempt to heal her husband and protect herself and her children. Part personal documentary and part historical essay, The Disappointment traces the patterns of cultural forgetting etched in the landscape of the Austin Farm.

This film uses the ‘old fashioned’ conventions of documentary film practice to stand history on its head. There is a narration taken from a radio lecture by Claude Lévi-Strauss entitled, “The Meeting of Myth and Science,” images from the Deutsche Wochenshau of June 25, 1940 that recorded Hitler’s dawn visit to Paris, images from American newsreels, a movement from one of Beethoven’s Rasumovsky Quartets. The film could only succeed, in my mind, if the imprint of prior usage of all elements was clear.

In this interview, political and social theorist, Terry Eagleton (b. 1943), shares stories of his Irish upbringing and British education, and sums up his current engagement with art theory, leftist politics, and spirituality under capitalism. With reference to Henry James, Frederic Jameson, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, among others, this interview spans a vast landscape of literature and social theory.

El Zócalo is an observational portrait of Mexico City’s central Plaza de la Constitutión during one day in August. Soldiers, Aztec dancers, clowns, food vendors, protestors, rain, dogs, tourists, kites, balloons, and dignitaries all meet in the public space of the Zócalo. This documentary presents daily life in one of the largest and most vibrant urban centers in the world, but it begins with a dream of history and ends with a dream of the space full of people for a Zapatista rally.

El Zócalo is an observational portrait of Mexico City’s central Plaza de la Constitutión during one day in August. Soldiers, Aztec dancers, clowns, food vendors, protestors, rain, dogs, tourists, kites, balloons, and dignitaries all meet in the public space of the Zócalo. This documentary presents daily life in one of the largest and most vibrant urban centers in the world, but it begins with a dream of history and ends with a dream of the space full of people for a Zapatista rally.

Between 1892 and 1927, almost 16 million people came to Ellis Island attempting to immigrate to the United States.

The Embassy deals with the codes of representation used by the former Portuguese colonial power over the West African country Guinea-Bissau, and with modes of memory production. It shows a photo album depicting the perspective of the Portuguese colonist, who photographed with documentary diligence landscapes, people, architecture and monuments in Guinea-Bissau in the 1940s and 1950s.

"Living on the slopes of the volcano Vesuvius is a strange contradiction: always in stress and yet also sleepy, waiting for what might happen. In close cooperation with the Osservatorio Vesuviano and several inhabitants of the 'Red Zone' of the volcano, Rosa Barba constructs a lyrical portrait of this area, which shelters Mafia members and illegal Chinese immigrants. Historic footage, measurements, maps, and aerial shots try to capture what is always uncertain."

Irreverent yet poignant, The Eternal Frame is a re-enactment of the assassination of John F. Kennedy as seen in the famous Zapruder film. This home movie was immediately confiscated by the FBI, yet found its way into the visual subconscious of the nation. The Eternal Frame concentrates on this event as a crucial site of fascination and repression in the American mindset.

"The intent of this work was to examine and demystify the notion of the presidency, particularly Kennedy, as image archetype...."

— Doug Hall, 1984 

Irreverent yet poignant, The Eternal Frame is a re-enactment of the assassination of John F. Kennedy as seen in the famous Zapruder film. This home movie was immediately confiscated by the FBI, yet found its way into the visual subconscious of the nation. The Eternal Frame concentrates on this event as a crucial site of fascination and repression in the American mindset.

"The intent of this work was to examine and demystify the notion of the presidency, particularly Kennedy, as image archetype...."

— Doug Hall, 1984 

A woman recounts her story of the mass exodus of Palestinians from Jerusalem. Beginning with the arrival and ending with the departure, the tale moves backwards in time and through various landscapes. The events are neither undone nor is the story untold; instead, Farther than the eye can see traces a decaying experience to a place that no longer exists.

"On January 22, 1987 an unjustly convicted Budd Dwyer grasped onto the pages of his final speech as Pennsylvania's State Treasurer before shooting himself in front of news cameras. Our current year of armageddon, recession, and occupation resonates as a fitting time to step into Budd's shoes (and perhaps others who sought freedom the same way.) I set up a mini news conference with antiquated, glitchy analog cameras, mixers, players, and decks with the goal of recording Budd's speech in one take.

I just got this tattoo — you can see it's still healing, the edges are raised like some sort of fancy business card — to mark the completion of this, Series One of my on-going project, Final Thoughts. So, on one wrist, facing fistward, a skull and, on the other, still tender and healing, a ghost. Let them be the mascots for the series, little cartoony avatars.

Fluid Frontiers is the fifth and final film in the series entitled The Diaspora Suite, exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, Fluid Frontiers explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation, exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists.

This installation is based on the re-enactment of Franz Kafka’s allegory "Before the Law", interpreted live over a telephone line by Katharine Gun. Gun was a translator (specializing in Chinese to English translations), working with the British secret service, who chose to leak information compromising the U.S. and U.K. governments in their push for a U.N. resolution for the invasion of Iraq. Gun disclosed their plans to illegally wiretap the delegations of the Security Council holding the balance of power at the U.N.  She was acquitted when it became clear to the government of the U.K.

Michel Foucault was one of the most influential philosophers and cultural historians of the 20th Century, reconceiving power and identities as historically specific social relations and discourses. His studies challenged the works of Marx and Freud, offering new understandings of institutional practices and their effects on the human body and psyche in his studies of prisons, mental illness, medicine, and sexuality.