"Inspired by Ralph Hocking's fish biting video. Eighty-seven stones thrown, volumes shifting of water sound, a real time performance event. Holding the camera and throwing 87 stones into the frame. 1/2" reel to reel Sony portapack."
The sonic fabric of 2nd Person, [originally] a multi-channel video installation, is formed through an array of women’s voices orchestrated as parallel tracks in a musical composition. The speakers, all women I have intimately known at different points in my life -- my child, my mother, my best friends, students, mentors -- talk with me about aging, growing up, death, motherhood, love and loss.
3 Peoniesis a brief, poetic 16mm film of a simple sculptural action. What becomes apparent is the humor possible in material interactions and the tender and sometimes melodramatic symbolism of cut flowers. The reverence for beauty ends up pointing towards the abstract expressionism and color field painting of high modernism that, in many cases, eschewed the banality of such ‘natural’ beauty.
In 50 Blue a young man (the artist’s brother) pushes an elderly disabled man (the artist’s father) in a wheel chair through a muddy landscape. It is a long and exhausting trip to an unknown destination only discovered at the end. After an arduous struggle the two arrive at the edge of a grey lake where a 10-meter high guard tower stands. The young man ties the wheel chair to a rope and hoists the old man up on the tower platform with the help of eight men, all dressed in yellow plastic raincoats.
We asked 12 people to walk 4 identical routes through the course of a day and a night, always attempting to repeat the manner of the first time. As they moved they concentrated on their steps and their rhythm and the repetition immunized them from having to make sense of their movements. They moved as if consumed by a single thought. Unaware of the passage of time. They re-ran the night during the day, and mixed the darkness with the light.
In an upmarket house surrounded by an idyllic garden, there is no trace of human presence, even though a family obviously lives there. Voices, sounds and superimposed text create a feeling of disquiet whose origin continually escapes us. “A house can feel pain”… Playing on a doubling of vignettes against a black background or on a sound designthat brings the off-screen world to life, Shelly Silver resuscitates the memory of this space, if only because a “house is a subconscious… a body…” And what if all this opulence and comfort were based on the exploitation of others?
The sense that you are about to be shown something wrong lingers throughout this bizarre semi-narrative. Appropriated imagery of natural disasters, paper crafts, mutated animals, abject beauty and genocide form an exquisite corpse of uncanny connectivity with chirrupy 1950s advertising music or romantic classical. Is this a test?
In shimmering rainbow hues, iridescent as the aurora borealis, this meditative presentation contemplates the mechanics inside existence. You’ll se a Soul’s loneliness and feel the bodies’ longings, while discovering answers to questions that haunt minds on sleepless nights…. It is the flesh of thought that reaches out into cosmic distances to touch the truth inside all of us!
In this interview, American filmmaker, teacher, and video artist Peggy Ahwesh (b.1954) delves into the key figures and primary texts that have inspired her work in Super-8 and video since the 1970s. She discusses her early influences as a member of the underground art scenes in Pittsburgh in the late 70s and Soho’s Kitchen in the 80s. Ahwesh’s experimental hand-processing and controversial subject matter can be traced to feminist theory, and her exposure to underground experimental films, including works by Werner Herzog, George Amaro, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith and her teacher at Antioch College, Tony Conrad.
Primal urges and lofty aspirations saturate this lush excursion into the human landscape where internal battles rage – see pens spill forth poems – observe the paintbrush dripping passions, as writers and artists search for inspiration in the sordid depths of society and in spiritual recesses of the mind.
This title comprises Ruffled Spirits (2016) and Nightfall (2013) which were compiled into this form by Mike Kuchar in 2022.
Animal Attraction is a documentary about the relationship between people and animals that questions the way we project our hopes and desires onto our pets, and ascribe human qualities and attributes to their gestures. The video was inspired by the plight of the filmmaker who was frustrated by the obnoxious behavior of her cat, Ernie. As a last resort, she gave in to a friend's suggestion to contact an animal communicator. This is her journey with interspecies telepathic communicator, Dawn Hayman, from Spring Farm CARES, an animal sanctuary in upstate New York.
The horizon, where the sky and the earth meet, is always elsewhere, a promised place where these two elements come together. A metaphor, an orienting, a promise of transition, change, transcendence. A place where the corporeal and spiritual meet, or are cleaved apart.
An episodic adventure highlighting the riff between mind and body. Through a series of animated narratives, role reversals and associations, images are driven out and stacked one on top another. "A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have. But I'm beginning to wonder if he knows something the rest of us don't."
This project on family violence, spanned two years and several sites across the country, and involved wrecked cars in sculptural installations. The cars were reconfigured by women and children who suffered violence at the hands of loved ones. Linked to each other through common experience, women from a domestic violence shelter in Pittsburgh, a family violence program at Bedford Hills prison, children from shelters in Niagara Falls and Cleveland, teenage girls in Oakland, and politicians on Staten Island all collaborated in making the cars.
Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness contrasts the fragmented past of the filmmaker growing up in Baghdad with his surreal California present. Through poetic writing and jarring visuals, the film creates a calm and cruel sense of memory and landscape.
"John Smith uses humour to repeatedly subvert and frustrate potentially threatening content in an economically constructed tale of the narrator’s descent into paranoia and, ultimately, oblivion, as he is pursued, haunted, and finally destroyed by a mysterious peripatetic black tower. Throughout, both verbal and visual imagery are low key to the point of banality; shots of familiar inner city landscapes—terraces, tower-blocks and scruffy wastelands—are set against a narrative that is laconic and bathetic in the best traditions of English suburban comedy.
In our 'freelancer' age in general, even before the lockdowns, many find themselves domestically confined, using mostly a computer screen to branch out. This film brings nature, lunacy, emotion and humanity indoors, using the color blue as the main protagonist. Blue is a part of Ann Oren’s video journals, a short video series responding to media culture and Instagram specifically with the square format, often starring animals.
"Emptiness: I just watched your latest video, Colchones Individuales (Single Beds), Volume 1: Desolacion, and I wanted to write you about it. Oddly, Single Beds sums up much of what I have been thinking lately. In these times of speed, where everything is propelled forward at an incredibly spiraling rate, it is only in moments of pause, of inertia, that we examine what is occurring to us. Your piece, Single Beds, performs an arrested time, a succinct suspension of time. (It is in many ways a companion piece to an earlier video of yours Staying Alive).
Torn over the pressure to perform for his audience, Acconci fantasizes about "a dancing bear" who takes his place, performing in the spotlight, doing what others want, "what I always had to do." The viewer is placed in the position of an authority or analyst, above Acconci’s head, listening to his hallucination. This fantasy becomes increasingly erotic as Acconci unburdens himself psychologically and reveals his contradictory need to control and to be controlled.
This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.