Mental Landscape

2000
So To Speak

Employing the 'case studies' of Helen Keller, Genie the 'wild child' and Angel at My Table author Janet Frame, Goss's extraordinary video contemplates the struggle to be heard, to break free from the prison of the incommunicable self. '[A] tour of the house and grounds of language,' constructed with beguiling visual spaces and surfaces, startling edits, and insinuatingly layered sound design. —New York Video Festival (2000)

1999
Some Chance Operations

Shot in Naples, Vienna, and New York, Some Chance Operations explores the notion of an archival form, in this instance film, as an unstable memory receptacle that can vanish. History and how it is made is meditated upon as one of many chance operations. The filmmaker Elvira Notari, who had a film production company in Naples from 1906 to 1930, plays a significant role as an impetus for Some Chance Operations. Despite the fact that she was a prolific filmmaker, producing over sixty feature films, only three remain intact.

2005
Someone Behind the Door

A world with no escape... from the surveying cameras, an eye, a presence, always there to control our minds and movements. Looking even for the most secure little movements of life. 

This title is also available on Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas.

1982
Son of Oil

Calling for oil like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Son Of Oil is a tale of the well-greased machine of the mind breaking down. Nuts fall off; thoughts turn bad; things don't work. Balancing panic and hopelessness, Oursler argues with phantom voices that taunt the hero with the consequences of his action and inaction. On this starkly social stage, Oursler confronts an individual's sense of responsibility in a society filled with violence, industrial decay, and alienation.

2007
Space Ghost

Space Ghost compares the experiences of astronauts and prisoners, using popular depictions of space travel to illustrate the physical and existential aspects of incarceration: sensory deprivation, the perception of time as chaotic and indistinguishable, the displacement of losing face-to-face contact, and the sense of existing in a different but parallel universe with family and loved-ones.

1995
Stanley

The tale of a fanatical tool collector who recreates the world according to a logic dictated by his cross-wrench. An examination of the abstract technology of sanity, Stanley inverts the documentary portrait—incorporating interviews, found footage, weapons catalogs, and alligator wrestling. An exploration of masculinity and instrumental power as wielded both in the tool shop and in the corridors of the Pentagon, Stanley underscores the larger significance of daily gesture in the production of meaning.

2001
Staying Alive

Blind man: “It is bad to be alone.”

The Creature: “Alone, bad.”

—The Bride of Frankenstein

It can be so bad to be alone that even an artificial heat is better than none.

This title is also available on Ximena Cuevas: El Mundo del Silencio (The Silent World) and Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas.

2015
Steve Hates Fish

Filmed directly from the screen of a smartphone using a language translator app that has been told to translate from French into English, Steve Hates Fish interprets the signage and architecture in a busy London shopping street. In an environment overloaded with information, the signs run riot as the confused and restless software does its best to fulfill its task.

2003
suicide

suicide is 70 packed minutes of a fictional filmmaker's crazed ruminations on travel, family history, death and sex as she traverses a world of malls, airports and train stations, chronicling her fiercely hopeful search for a reason to continue living.

2003
super-max

I drove around the U.S. filming these super maximum-security prison buildings the spring and summer after the World Trade Center bombing. I knew that counties within various states had been frantically outbidding each other to get these high-tech gulags to replace the farming and manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the last 25 years. The timing seemed right to remind everyone what we have been doing with our public funding and to draw parallels with the neo-liberal economic policies espoused with variations by the Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations.

2007
Suspension

Letting go of realist constraints, and going back to the mirror-images of some of Provost’s famous previous works, we are diving into a cosmic ocean of ever metamorphosing baroque circumvolutions in which our minds try to capture reassuring forms before letting the ghostly demons blur our vision.

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.

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
This Day (al yaoum)

Shot in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, this essay uses transportation, video, and photography to examine images circulating in a historically charged, and presently war-torn and divided, Middle East. From images of camels in the desert to images of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the video looks at states of mind in relation to actual geographies. The video pays tribute to an unformatted and open-ended documentary approach, and examines modes of access to information such as travel, television and the Internet, while carefully displaying the resulting iconography.

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.