'Misery' doesn't like 'company', - but 'company' does love a 'party', so come join in on a catastrophic celebration, and do 'hang on' tight, - because it's a steep ride down into the depths of a soul in meltdown mode!
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.
This three-DVD collection features 18 titles, 10 years of videography, and over six hours of material by Donigan Cumming.
"Cumming has said that it is his intention to question, "the myth of the innocent, invisible photographic witness." Borrowing from what he calls, "experimental ethnography," Cumming consciously positions himself not only as investigator, but also participant, caretaker and friend. Thus his examinations of human frailty are always tempered by a compassion that stems from his own involvement in the situations he records."
“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.”
Through a stack of personal journals, this video reconstructs a biography of the South Dakota-born, New York City-enlightened artist James Wentzy. Tracing his days starting out as a struggling artist and later involved as an AIDS activist, the video provides an intimate portrait of a neglected hero. Wentzy reads from journals and shares old family snapshots and notebook sketches. “I hope I don’t die of sainthood,” Wentzy jokes in an entry from 1990—the pivotal time when he was becoming involved with ACT-UP and beginning to live healthier after the revelation of his HIV-positive status.
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!"
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 idea was to address the cultural invisibility of older women through art and through action,” the voice-over explains as this video begins. This short works offers an introduction to the Whisper Minnesota Project, which organized The Crystal Quilt performance, an event that brought together hundreds of women over 60 on a Mother’s Day in Minneapolis. As the video explains, “The Crystal Quilt is a case study in reframing notions of older women’s beauty, power, and relevance. Through it we catch glimpses of life patterns and values lost to our generation.”
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.
In Final Exit, an aged one is confronted with his options in blunt terms. Does he want to drag out his existence, increasingly infirm and a burden to his caretakers, or go quietly before resentment overwhelms sentiment? Does he wish to go on living, the quality of his life increasingly diminishing, or be euthanized? Would he prefer cremation or burial? This video confronts the issues of mortality and advancing decrepitude that faces even the friskiest.
Filmed in Susan Mogul’s Los Angeles multi-ethnic working class neighborhood, Highland Park, Everyday Echo Street: A Summer Diary, is an insider’s view of how home and neighborhood are constructed in everyday relations. Composed of conversational and anecdotal portraits of neighbors and merchants, Susan ruminates about the past and the present, as she looks out her apartment window. Struggling to arrive at a new definition of “home,” she ponders loss, middle age, and living alone.
Loss Prevention combines documentary and fiction to tell the story of Irene, arrested at the age of 79 for stealing a bottle of aspirin from a Miami Wal-Mart and sentenced to ten weeks of Senior Citizen Shoplifting Prevention School. Narrated through the voice of her daughter, this film explores the alienation of aging and the evolving relationship between a daughter and an elderly mother.
Locke’s Way is the photographic path to knowledge, full of twists and turns, treacherously steep. What has happened down here? A family’s photographs tell us everything and nothing about the subterranean past. "One of the central questions of philosophy has always been: what can be known? Locke’s Way provides a vivid illustration of this perennial philosophical dilemma. In this short video, Donigan Cumming is preoccupied with the story of his older brother, who seems to have been brain-damaged and spent much of his life in institutions.