Literature

2012
Ken Kobland, Film Work 1975-2011 Ken Kobland

Ken Kobland has been working in various aspects of film and video since 1971, creating productions in collaboration with performing artists such as Philip Glass, the Wooster Group, Elizabeth LeCompte, and Spalding Gray. His work explores a variety of themes and issues, often embracing a photographic aesthetic within the context of video. Beautifully edited, his work merges diaristic and documentary categories, presenting an art of video that approximates photo-journalism. 

This 7-DVD box set contains the following titles from the artist:

Disc 1

2000
FIVE (Alfred Chester)

“Where the robots can eat food, they eat chemicals instead—as one would expect. Where they can live and act, they sit in dark rooms and watch others do it for them. Where they can have faith, they mistrust the honest. Where they can have suspicions, they believe the treacherous. Where they can suffer, they prefer to be tranquil. Where they can laugh, they snicker. Where they can praise, they scorn. Where they can scorn, they worship. Where they can do almost anything but love, they do nearly nothing but hate. And where they can hate, they imagine that they love.”

1986
Ken Kobland, Flaubert Dreams of Travel But the Illness of His Mother...

Drawing from Flaubert's The Temptation of Saint Anthony, his letters, travel journals, and biography, this video layers fantasy, sexual obsession, morbidity, Romanticism, and boredom alongside the ghostliness of empty hotel rooms, aural atmosphere, and an homage to surrealist and horror films.

Co-produced by the Wooster Group, and featuring Ron Vawter.

2006
Forever Live: The Case of K. Gun

This installation is based on the re-enactment of Franz Kafka’s allegory "Before the Law", interpreted live over a telephone line by Katharine Gun. Gun was a translator (specializing in Chinese to English translations), working with the British secret service, who chose to leak information compromising the U.S. and U.K. governments in their push for a U.N. resolution for the invasion of Iraq.

2000
FOUR (Oscar Wilde)

“Ah! It is so easy to convert others. It is so difficult to convert oneself.”

—Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist” in The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (New York: Harper Collins, 1989)

This title is also available on Third Known Nest by Tom Kalin.

2003
Go Fall Apart

An erotic/mystical misadventure in which the allure of the religious path is strewn with earthly temptations. Struggling with a bogus Zen koan involving flowers in keyholes and jumping through windows, the protagonist will end up entering, by the conclusion, the realm of subatomic particles, thereby achieving transcendence-of-a-sort. On the soundtrack, operatic quotations comment ironically (and sometimes sincerely) on the visual proceedings.

2007
Haute Surveillance

This video develops from a real event that took place during a theater seminar in the masters degree program at the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Columbia.  The seminar occurred during one of the university's worst periods of violence.  Two students in charge of a presentation on the life and work of French author Jean Genet decided to play a hoax on their fellow students - a hoax that involved an armed kidnapping.  Their idea was to perform the ethos of Genet's work rather than to represent it in a conventional way.

1997
I hung back, held fire, danced and lied

“I hung back, held fire, danced and lied. I was not going to come crawling out of my ruined house, all bloody, no, baby, sing no sad songs for me.”

—James Baldwin, “The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy,” Esquire (May 1961)

This title is also available on Third Known Nest by Tom Kalin.

1989
I Need Your Full Cooperation

Juxtaposing feminist readings of medical tracts, narratives of patient treatment and archival footage, I Need Your Full Cooperation reveals the evolution of women’s relationship to modern medicine. The video dramatizes Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “rest cure”, adapting her 1892 story "The Yellow Wallpaper", and includes critical commentary by activist/writer Barbara Ehrenreich and historian Carroll Smith-Rosenberg.

2009
If There Be Thorns

A dark wave of incest and magic burns across the tropics, forging a knotted trail into the black hole. Taking its title from the V.C. Andrews novel (a sequel to Flowers In The Attic), and weaving together texts from Shirley Jackson, William S. Burroughs, and Stevie Nicks, the film constructs a collaged narrative of three star-crossed siblings searching for one another across the unstable landscapes of their respective exiles.

— Michael Robinson

2003
Inspiration

The stimulus for this dissertation on the reason behind the creative impulse is taken verbatim from an author's preface to his book.

2006
Jean Genet In Chicago

A queer rewriting of the events surrounding the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago from the point of view of French writer Jean Genet. Along the way Genet will meet, amongst others, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, the Yippies, the Black Panther Party and the Chicago police force... Ultimately, the video is about the difficulty of aligning political and sexual desires.

Joe
2018
Cecilia Dougherty, Joe

A portrait of New York author Joe Westmoreland. Joe is reading from his short story Sweet Baby Joe. This video was shot in 2014 in Joe's Chelsea loft, and the reading was recorded in 2016. 

1991
John Cage Performs James Joyce

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-Ching 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.

1999
Kafka's Bugaboo

In the second part of the Classics Exposed series, a neurotic scholar (Gibbons) leads a "buggy" ride tour through historic Charleston where, according to the professor, Franz Kafka wrote The Metamorphosis after taking a wrong turn on his way to Hollywood. Live-action with six-legged animation.

This title is also available on Emily Breer: Classics Exposed.