"A chamber drama set in the confines of an apartment’s sun room, this video further explores visual themes and obsessions found in my earlier works and adds in a few new ones for good measure. Earlier motifs seen here are lightbulbs in pendulum movement, tabletop antics with simple household objects, Christo-like fleshy textures, sketchbook pages torn from their binders, book pages, bookshelves, and flowers. I play a vaguely Walter Mitty-ish figure, who imagines himself as a conductor, as Orpheus, and as conflicted characters in a Greta Garbo movie.
Shot in December 1969, this video documents a live performance by the Incredible String Band at the Fillmore East, NYC. Beginning with footage of people waiting in line at the doors before the show begins, the video goes on to record the performance itself. Early on, the band experiences some audio problems, before settling down to play. We witness the band talking, tuning their instruments and playing.
A collaboration between Jem Cohen and the Washington DC band Fugazi, the project covers the ten-year period following the band's inception in 1987. Far from a traditional documentary, the project is a musical document: a portrait of musicians at work.
When everyone has forgotten the romantic refrains of the Internationale sung in different languages, Pablito, a blue front Amazon parrot, capable of living to 100 years old, will remember. He rings bells and is learning to whistle, hum and sing the Internationale in French, Spanish and German.
"how looking at what has become the skeletons of photographs is a visual lecture on aesthetic pleasure or emotion. and how being, almost entirely denied of this pleasure, or having the pleasure merely suggested induces a viewer to ruminate on the act of viewing and that of wanting to view. and maybe it is evolution which causes this anxiety and art form."
An extremely rare documentation of a private performance of John Cage, one of the leading avant-garde composers of the 20th century, who created "Writing for the Fifth Time through Finnegan's Wake" using I-Chin chance operation: Chinese fortune telling. Here Cage performs in front of a video camera operated by Takahiko iimura, while he transforms the text of a modern literature classic by James Joyce into Cagian music in three ways: reading, singing and whispering.
These five short videos introduce Judy, a paper maché puppet who ruminates on her position in society. Like Judy, of the famous Punch and Judy puppet duo, Benning’s Judy seems to experience the world from the outside, letting things happen to her rather than making things happen around her.
In his New York City landscape, Cohen finds inspiration in disturbance. Looking to life for rhythm and to architecture for state of mind, he locates simple mysteries. Just Hold Still is comprised of an interconnected series of short works and collaborations that explore the gray area between documentary, narrative, and experimental genres.
"Third Known Nest is a collection of nine short works completed approximately one per year from 1991 to 1999. Interwoven with nine quotations from some of my favorite writers, the eighteen short entries in Third Known Nest function as an intimate visual diary—fractured pictures from my day-to-day life. I carried a Super-8 camera with me whenever and wherever I traveled, and also at home—just running errands or in the garden. I shot nearly a hundred fifty-foot reels of film.
An ailing, elderly man listens to a private performance in his room. The singing is a halting mix cross-cultural-Inuktitut and Country & Western. Transgressive and mesmerizing, Karaoke distorts the landscapes of sound and body.
In January 2001, the KEN BURNS’ JAZZ promotional blizzard hit New York City. Billboards, banners on buses, elaborate retail displays in book and record stores, feature coverage in every major print, radio and TV outlet, chatter around the water cooler at the office — total saturation.
Through distorted audio and visual representations of interviews with music journalists, this video critiques the mass media’s treatment of the rap group Public Enemy, and accusations that their lyrics are anti-Semitic. This experimental documentary includes scenes from Public Enemy performances and music videos, as well as archival footage of the Black Power movement and Malcolm X. Know Your Enemy details the war being waged by black artists on the battleground of representation, a struggle against forms of expression which are already co-opted.
Kuyenda N’kubvina looks at how thought and culture propagate in the slender nation of Malawi. Weaving our way through video halls, book stores, dance floors and radio stations, in cities and small villages, we meet Malawians who traffic in ideas, reflecting the rhythms of Malawian contemporary life. The video was instigated by the filmmaker’s relative ignorance about the people and culture of southeast Africa, and accompanies her as she seeks out individuals and infrastructures that channel and articulate Malawian identity.