Death and Dying

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.

1989
Precious Products

In Precious Products we are subtly reminded of this country’s obsession with consumerism and narcissism. George, with his ever-present video-8 camera, attends an opening of Precious Products—an exhibition of artworks satirizing art as commodity. He leaves the art world of San Francisco to spend a Christmas holiday with friends in their opulent home. Ironically, this is the home of a celebrity (another kind of commodity), Russian defector/ballerina Natalia Makanova. Surrounded by all the luxuries of life and Makanova’s image, George muses about death.

2017

VDB TV: Decades
1980s: Problematizing Pleasure / Punk Theory

An original program for VDB TV: Decades curated by Steve Reinke.

2006
Regarding the Pain of Susan Sontag (Notes on Camp)

"This video continues the journey from the final sequence of Ask the Insects. We turn away from the graveyard, enter the schoolyard, approach the old crippled tree spinning, and sit under it to draw a little cartoon for The New Yorker, while — through some sort of temporal displacement — New Year’s resolutions are being made."

2007
Respite

Respite consists of silent black-and-white films shot at Westerbork, a Dutch refugee camp established in 1939 for Jews fleeing Germany. In 1942, after the occupation of Holland, its function was reversed by the Nazis and it became a 'transit camp.'  In 1944, the camp commander commissioned a film, shot by a photographer, Rudolph Breslauer.

1977
Revolve

“Nancy Holt’s Revolve, a videotape where the artist, off-camera, interviews her friend Dennis Wheeler who is dying of leukemia, uses his illness and mental reflection as a metaphysical site. Her interview is recorded from the perspective of three video cameras that each capture Wheeler from a different point of view. The three-point perspective was designed to give the illusion of infinity. Holt’s three-camera perspective grips the observer with the reality of the finiteness of death...

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.

1973
Search Olga Gold

Originally part of a larger sculptural installation using prospector's tools, this tape reenacts the search for "Olga," a miner's wife who disappeared on her honeymoon in 1936. As Paul and Marlene Kos call out, "Olga... Olga...", the camera scans the Wyoming wilderness, and their search becomes ritualistic, the repetitive calls building in intensity and breaking down into chanted moans.

2008
Silent Among Us

Shot in a local Natural History Museum in northern Israel. 100 white doves fly around cabinets of stuffed birds and other animals. This is a symbol of a culture which is unwilling to let the past go, and lives so naturally with the dead. They stand in silence, but fully present, as we continue living.

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

2016
Adriene Jenik "The Sky is Falling"

The Sky Is Falling... is part of an ongoing series of performances that make up The Data Humanization Project.

2006
Steve Kurtz Waiting

On May 11 2004, Steve Kurtz phoned 911 to report Hope, his wife of 20 years, was unresponsive. When paramedics came to his house, one of them noticed that Kurtz had laboratory equipment, which he used in his art exhibits. The paramedics reported this to police and the FBI sealed off his house.

Authorities later said that Kurtz's wife had died of "heart failure," but he wasn't allowed to return to his home for two days while the FBI confiscated his equipment, and biological samples. They also carted off his books, personal papers and computer.

2003

Part cloning experiment, part documentary, Stories from the Genome follows an unnamed CEO-geneticist whose company sequenced the Human Genome in 2003 — a genome that secretly was his own. Not satisfied with this feat, the scientist self-replicates, producing a colony of clone-scientists to save himself from Alzheimer’s. The animated video switches between misadventures in cloning, and a history of equally improbable theories of human development.

This title is only available on Soft Science.

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.

1996
Suicide Box

A documentary video about the B.I.T. Suicide Box — a motion-triggered camera developed by the Bureau of Inverse Technology (a private information agency), and installed within range of the Golden Gate Bridge to capture a video record of anything that falls from the bridge, and provide an accurate measure of the suicide rate. The piece points to confusing roles for technology within contemporary culture.

— Whitney Biennial (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)

Spanish subtitled version also available.

2002
Sylvia

Sylvia is a portrait of the civil rights pioneer Sylvia Rivera for her memorial service in 2002, as told by her chosen family immediately following her death. "A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, Sylvia was a tireless advocate for all those who have been marginalized as the 'gay rights' movement has mainstreamed. Sylvia fought hard against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York, and was a loud and persistant voice for the rights of people of color and low-income queers and trans people." --SRLP.org