City

Company Line is a film about one of the first predominately Black neighborhoods in Mansfield, Ohio. The title, Company Line, refers to the name historically used by residents to describe their neighborhood, located on the north side of town close to the old steel mill. The Company Line began during the post–war migration of Blacks from the south to the north in the late 1940’s. The neighborhood was purchased in the early 1970s and its residents were scattered throughout Mansfield.

A witch’s moon ignites an artist’s canvas with lurid colors that keep him from sleep in a city that is the subject for his brush. Disgusted with the spiritual emptiness of his paintings, he now seeks a landscape that will contain in it deeper meanings — one that offers “inner peace.”

 

The city today is as rationalised and regulated as a production process. The images which today determine the day of the city are operative images, control images. Representations of traffic regulation, by car, train or metro, representations determining the height at which mobile phone network transmitters are fixed, and where the holes in the networks are. Images from thermo-cameras to discover heat loss from buildings.

Deadline, 1981

An insert square of a man running is superimposed over a magnified mouth that speaks to him — first in nurturing encouragement, then with a no-win Mommie Dearest kind of criticism. Originally presented as an installation on six monitors, Deadline focuses on “the stress man feels in the urban environment,” using a range of digital video effects to stretch, compress, flip and fracture the image.

THE DRESS, 2021

THE DRESS: is a projection prop created for a performance piece at the Art Institute in 1984. It was installed in March 2021, suspended in front of a building on the Bowery as both a memorial to my grandmother, a Hungarian immigrant and master seamstress, and to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, of 1911, which occurred a few blocks north of this site.

-EJay Sims

THE DRESS, 2021

THE DRESS: is a projection prop created for a performance piece at the Art Institute in 1984. It was installed in March 2021, suspended in front of a building on the Bowery as both a memorial to my grandmother, a Hungarian immigrant and master seamstress, and to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, of 1911, which occurred a few blocks north of this site.

-EJay Sims

Eileen, 2000

This video is an unabashed fan letter to poet Eileen Myles. As in Laurie, my desire was to romanticize the poet, but not through her writing so much as through her reputation as the natural born child of the New York School and the Beats. I shot the movie as I imagined Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie shooting Pull My Daisy, a film that left an impression on me chiefly of the struggle between form and formlessness, plan and improvisation, sketch and story.

El Zócalo is an observational portrait of Mexico City’s central Plaza de la Constitutión during one day in August. Soldiers, Aztec dancers, clowns, food vendors, protestors, rain, dogs, tourists, kites, balloons, and dignitaries all meet in the public space of the Zócalo. This documentary presents daily life in one of the largest and most vibrant urban centers in the world, but it begins with a dream of history and ends with a dream of the space full of people for a Zapatista rally.

El Zócalo is an observational portrait of Mexico City’s central Plaza de la Constitutión during one day in August. Soldiers, Aztec dancers, clowns, food vendors, protestors, rain, dogs, tourists, kites, balloons, and dignitaries all meet in the public space of the Zócalo. This documentary presents daily life in one of the largest and most vibrant urban centers in the world, but it begins with a dream of history and ends with a dream of the space full of people for a Zapatista rally.

Failing Up describes career advancement despite bad decisions, bankruptcies, and intellectual mediocrity. In this short film, the Manhattan real estate holdings of the King of Failing Up are catalogued and synced to a soundtrack that suggests how it feels to be one of his subjects.

Whip pans, zooms, lens twists, and bursts of stop-frame animation transform eight minutes of borrowed audio from Home Alone 2 (a film that features a cameo of the current US President) into a political work of slapstique concrete.

The Diaspora Suite

Filmed on location in Harlem (NY) and Ethiopia, Forged Ways oscillates between the first person account of a filmmaker, a man navigating the streets of Harlem, and the day to day life in the cities and villages of Ethiopia.

This first "Frieda" collaboration between performance artists Barbara Lipp and Tom Koden and video artist Tom Rubnitz chronicles Frieda's rise from assembly-line worker in a box factory to singing superstar. Featuring rock-bottom production values and a sound track which includes the Brady Bunch kids' tune "Gonna Find a Rainbow".

 

 

This first "Frieda" collaboration between performance artists Barbara Lipp and Tom Koden and video artist Tom Rubnitz chronicles Frieda's rise from assembly-line worker in a box factory to singing superstar. Featuring rock-bottom production values and a sound track which includes the Brady Bunch kids' tune "Gonna Find a Rainbow".

 

 

This first "Frieda" collaboration between performance artists Barbara Lipp and Tom Koden and video artist Tom Rubnitz chronicles Frieda's rise from assembly-line worker in a box factory to singing superstar. Featuring rock-bottom production values and a sound track which includes the Brady Bunch kids' tune "Gonna Find a Rainbow".

 

 

From The Files of the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge is a series of video clips taken at the Pyramid Club, a seminal location for the East Village drag scene in the midst of the club's most influential years. While rummaging through a file cabinet full of event fliers from the Pyramid Club, an office worker in drag guides the viewer through video documentation of past performances at the club.

Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street comprises Jem Cohen’s twelve-part series as a continuous and complete compilation. Cohen, who witnessed the New York occupation from day one, borrowed a digital camera and started gathering footage in subsequent weeks. Initially acting upon an instinctive impulse to document and be guided by the events of the movement through quiet participation, Cohen’s documentation took a more public and expansive form through an agreement with the IFC Center, a local movie theater.

There is no better place to meet people than in the temporary community which gathers under a scant awning on a New York street in a downpour.

 

Home Movies Gaza introduces us to the Gaza Strip as a mircrocosm for the failure of civilization. In an attempt to describe the everyday of a place that struggles for the most basic of human rights, this video claims a perspective from within the domestic spaces of a territory that is complicated, derelict, and altogether impossible to separate from its political identity.

"... Basma Alsharif’s Home Movies Gaza, a film that captures the impossibly politicized domestic sphere of the Gaza Strip, under the constant hum and buzz of overhead drones."

Matt Wolf returns to Joe Brainard's iconic poem I Remember (1970) in this videowork. His archival montage combines audio recordings of Brainard reading from the poem, as well as an interview with his lifelong friend and collaborator, the poet Ron Padgett. The result is an inventive biography of Joe Brainard, and an elliptical dialog about friendship, nostalgia, and the strange wonders of memory.

I arranged a visit to poet/novelist Kevin Killian’s South of Market apartment in San Francisco to shoot a portrait of him, and when I arrived he had a guest, poet Cedar Sigo. They had corresponded earlier, but were meeting for the first time, and Cedar agreed to participate in our video shoot. This is perhaps the least planned, most verité and documentary of the videos about writers so far. Our immediate plan was for Kevin to read one of Cedar’s poems and for Cedar to read one by Kevin.

The performance artist Stephen Varble spent the last five years of his life working on an epic, unfinished performance-turned-video titled Journey to the Sun (1978-1983). Only partially complete and under constant revision, this complex work combined Varble’s history of making costumes for performances with his fantastic stories involving metamorphosis and martyrdom. In 1982, Varble decided to make a “prelude” to Journey to the Sun, combining existing footage with new video taken in Riverside Park in New York City.

Laurie, 1998

Laurie was inspired by Laurie Weeks’ uncanny ability to simultaneously embody her characters and write them from a clear distance. The text in question is just a few paragraphs from a draft of the novel Zipper Mouth, more than ten years in the making, and published by the Feminist Press.

A collaboration with writer Luc Sante made in Tangier, Morocco, a city where neither of us had ever been. En route from the airport to the city center, we found ourselves amazed by the landscape outside of the car windows; a massive construction project under way in all directions. While not in itself unusual, we were by struck dumb by the epic scale and seemingly incomprehensible plan of the development and were drawn to return together to this puzzling zone.

-- Jem Cohen

Long for the City is a short portrait of Patti Smith in the city where she lives. Patti recites the very first poem-song she ever wrote, and then a later one, "Prayer", from the early 1970s. We take a walk in her changing neighborhood, and I ask her what she saw. Footage was shot in the moment, as well as drawn from the archive I've gathered over many years. Long for the City can be considered a non-musical companion piece to the music short, Spirit, which we collaborated on in 2007.

Take a trip into and out of the body to ponder Time’s endless depths where Earth spirits roam and inner Demons lurk, and find secrets that hide behind the "self". Its here for you to see.

This title comprises Moon Lit Vows (2017), Boy in the Mirror (2015), Celestial Horizons (2019), Book of the Angel (2017) and Floating on the Currents of Consciousness (2019) which were compiled into this form by Mike Kuchar in 2022.