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.
“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.”
"In 1997 I went to Benares, India to study the Hindu practice of burning the bodies of their dead on the Ganges ghats. My purpose was:
1. To become more at ease with death, a hidden western phenomenon;
2. To de-fuse fear around seeing death;
3. To watch how Hindu elders congregate in Benares to die since dying here in this holy city guarantees "moksha", no rebirth. Visiting temples and ashrams for the elderly allowed me to observe how they use their time and prepare for their eventual passing.
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 interview American filmmaker, poet, and lyricist, Cecelia Condit gives shape to the contours of her work process. The artist describes the influence of her relationship with her mother, her long-term investment in the macabre, and her ongoing desire to confront death through art. While covering a broad range of topics, Condit’s discussion of her work and interests returns to several defining themes: aging, grotesqueness, and the notion of movement, both in terms of her own past as a dancer and the notion of the body in decay. With a particular emphasis on the production and context of her videos, Annie Lloyd (2008), and All About a Girl (2004), this interview offers insight into the artist’s fascination with aging, sweetness, and storytelling, while also articulating her joyful sense of discovery within the art-making process. No longer working with scripts, Condit presents herself in the interview as a scavenger–much like the crows she incorporates into her work–assembling videos which straddle the line between strange and silly. – Faye Gleisser
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.
“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 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.
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!"
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."
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.
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.
'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!
I once read a story about the Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche in a book by death-teacher, Steven Levine. Trungpa went into his son's room and said to him, "I'm dying." And then he said to his son, "You are dying too." This story made a deep impression on me because death is the last taboo, the hidden boogey-man, the unspeakable. It was a beautiful lesson in impermanence this father gave his son.