Health

1996
Nine Fish

From childhood memories to recurring nightmares, Nine Fish attacks and illuminates the indecision and confusion surrounding euthanasia and care of the elderly in the United States. In this deeply spiritual and personal video, director Kip Fulbeck chronicles his Cantonese grandmother's physical decline and its continuing impact on his family. The shifting complexities of personal identity, family communication, and cultural assimilation are explored through nine semi-fictional stories.

1990
On Our Own

As recent state cut-backs force many mental patients out into the real world, Tony Oursler and Joe Gibbons team up to address psychiatric deinstitutionalization from a comic angle. After years of being cared for, Tony, Joe and their dog Woody leave the cuckoo’s nest and reluctantly face the prospect of finding jobs and cooking their own meals. Their darkly comic adventures include a comatose Tony tuning in to daytime TV, and Joe fantasizing about death while strolling in the park.

2003
OPERATION INVERT

Are gender outlaws considered the new biological terrorists seeking weapons of mass bodily destruction? OPERATION INVERT compares the different regulations mediating botox-related plastic surgery and gender reassignment "sex change." Historical medical assessments of the invert (homosexual and transsexual) "condition" reveal seemingly outdated absurdities about outsider deviance. Nonetheless, current institutional loopholes governing gender re-assignment surgery suggest a fresh resurgence of loony pathology and diagnosis.

1993
operculum

The artist visits with seven cosmetic surgeons specializing in blepharoplasty (cosmetic eyelid creasing surgery) in the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills area for initial consultation sessions. The doctors demonstrate different reshaping options and comment upon the prevalence and success rates for different Asian nationalities while Tran presents statistics and facts in text that frame the consultations.

This title is also available on Tran, T. Kim-Trang: The Blindness Series.

1999
Petit Jesus

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

1995
A Prayer for Nettie

A Prayer For Nettie dramatizes the death of an elderly woman who was Cumming’s photographic model from 1982 to 1993, presenting an improvised series of prayers and memorials for Nettie Harris by people who knew her, and some who did not. In its ambiguous mix of tenderness and aggression, A Prayer For Nettie extends the traditions of the grotesque and the absurd. The fervent prayers of the actors are undermined by indifference, forgetfulness, and the presence of the camera. In the end, comedy turns the tables on piety and remembrance as Nettie looks up from the grave.

2002
pulse pharma phantasm

pulse pharma phantasm is a frame by frame weaving of nine different pharmaceutical television commercials into a pulsating hallucination of worry and relief.

2000
Sea in the Blood

Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return.

1999
Shelter

A conversation about marriage and horses between two unseen men.

This title is also available on Donigan Cumming: Controlled Disturbance and Donigan Cumming: Four Short Pieces.

1995
Swallow

Based on accounts of girlhood anorexia, Swallow unravels the masked and shifting symptoms that define clinical depression. With a densely layered soundtrack, humorous and painful scenes of potential psychological breakdown reveal a critical loss of meaning, and the failure to diagnose mental illness. Weaving narrative, documentary, and experimental strategies, Swallow intimately traces the awkward steps from unacknowledged depression to self-recognition.

2006
Swimming in Air

Recently I found myself rising from a forced landing on the floor after being catapulted into the air by an exercise machine and bouncing off the dresser. Through raccoon eyes, the effect of falling on my face, I squinted into the fog-filled room of my present, stumbling about apprehensively, my long-term memory scrambled and short-term memory severely inhibited. My once reliable body and memory were teetering on the brink of self-betrayal.

2015
Michael Gitlin, That Which Is Possible

That Which Is Possible is a portrait of a community of painters, sculptors, musicians and writers making work at the Living Museum, an art-space on the grounds of a large state-run psychiatric facility in Queens, New York. Shot over the course of two years and structured across the arc of a day, the film observes with an intimate lens and unspools like a musical, both bracing and tender. That Which Is Possible explores the liberatory and reparative functions that creative action has for a group of artists drawn together by shared struggle.

2003
Threads of Belonging

Threads of Belonging depicts the daily life of Layton House, a fictional therapeutic community, where doctors live with their schizophrenic patients. The characters and events of Layton House were drawn from writings of the anti-psychiatry movement, whose most famous proponent was R.D. Laing. In this film we see experimental therapies, power struggles, and the individual arcs of mental illness converge, as a community struggles to understand itself and determine its destiny.

1999
Fred Tomaselli: An Interview

Fred Tomaselli’s mosaics and collages compose patterns and images that suggest ancient global influences. His materials, however, are products of modern consumption, addiction, bodily abuse, and pleasure: pills, nicotine patches, bandages, and the like. The surfaces are coated with a lacquered veneer, making these mundane sources of highs or healing gleam. Interview by James Rondeau. A historical interview originally recorded in 1999 and re-edited in 2007.

2009
Tran, T. Kim-Trang: The Blindness Series

The Blindness Series consists of eight short videos that investigate blindness and metaphors. Topics of individual titles include cosmetic surgery of the eyelids, vision and sexuality, video surveillance, hysterical blindness, alexia or word-blindness, and physical blindness. The series examines instrumental vision while offering a different kind of visuality, a haptic visuality. Stylistically, Tran's critical approach to video art is essayistic, theoretical, and politically engaged.