Myth

Out of the mouths of rural boys, finding the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin in Afghanistan.

The HalfLifers exhume cinema’s favorite incarnation of mindless, decaying mortality, the Zombie, in the hopes of breathing new life into this misunderstood figure. From a panel discussion in an old TV studio to a quarantined helicopter high above California’s rolling hills, these life-challenged entities walk, talk, and chew over some of the more difficult questions of this “whole linear birth-death system."

This title is also available on HalfLifers: The Complete History.

Agoraphobic is a portrayal of a specific case of New-Age impotence. The agoraphobic's pathology manifests itself as a need to drink his victim's blood in order to move from place to place. Set in an office interior, Agoraphobic becomes a play on the patient / therapist relationship, suggesting an imbalance in the transfer of baggage. 

alexia, 2000

alexia is an experimental video about word-blindness and metaphor. Word-blindness is a condition that usually afflicts people who have suffered a stroke, causing them to lose the visual recognition of individual letters but perceive the entire word, or vice versa. Metaphor is here discussed in its function to reveal and obscure perception. Divided into five short sections, the video draws a pattern with the motif of the finger and the moon to ruminate on language and blindness.

His face is strong and seems unaffected by the trials in his life — however it is nothing but a mask — skin is what he hides behind.

Atlantis, 2014

"We Utopians are happy / This will last forever"

Loosely framed by Plato's invocation of the lost continent of Atlantis in 360 BC and its re-re-resurrection via a 1970s science fiction pulp novel, Atlantis is a documentary portrait of Utopia -- an island that has never / forever existed beneath our too-mortal feet. Herein is folk song and pagan rite, religious march and reflected temple, the sea that surrounds us all. Even though we are slowly sinking, we are happy and content.

Zach Blas is an artist, writer, and filmmaker whose practice spans technical investigation, research, conceptualism, performance, and science fiction. Currently a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, Blas has exhibited internationally, including at the Walker Art Center, Gwangju Biennale, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Whitechapel Gallery.

In this interview American filmmaker, poet, and lyricist, Cecelia Condit gives shape to the contours of her work process. The artist describes the influence of her relationship with her mother, her long-term investment in the macabre, and her ongoing desire to confront death through art. While covering a broad range of topics, Condit’s discussion of her work and interests returns to several defining themes: aging, grotesqueness, and the notion of movement, both in terms of her own past as a dancer and the notion of the body in decay. With a particular emphasis on the production and context of her videos, Annie Lloyd (2008), and All About a Girl (2004), this interview offers insight into the artist’s fascination with aging, sweetness, and storytelling, while also articulating her joyful sense of discovery within the art-making process. No longer working with scripts, Condit presents herself in the interview as a scavenger–much like the crows she incorporates into her work–assembling videos which straddle the line between strange and silly. – Faye Gleisser

During a video workshop in the Kuikuro village in the Upper Xingu, Brazil, an eclipse takes place. Suddenly, everything changes. The animals take new forms. Blood falls from the sky like rain. The sound of the sacred flutes crosses the dark night. There is no time to lose. One must sing and dance. The world must be awakened. In this video, the Kuikuro video makers tell us what happened when the moon menstruated.

Direction: Takumã e Maricá Kuikuro

Photography: Takumã, Mariká, Amuneri, Asusu, Jairão e Maluki

Edition: Leonardo Sette

A fantasia that makes twisted use of elements from the Elektra myth and vampire stories. Imagine a woman listening to Richard Strauss's Elektra while watching Carl Dryer's Vampyr and the dream she might then have that night. The protagonist imagines herself as Elektra. She has an unhealthy obsession over her dead father Agamemnon. She also passionately despises her mother Clytemnestra, as she is the one who murdered her father. Elektra exhumes the ax used to kill her father in his bath.

Endless Dreams and Water Between is a feature film with four fictitious characters sustaining an epistolary exchange in which their “planetary thought” is woven with the physical locations they inhabit, visual and aural characters in themselves: the island of Manhattan, the island of Majorca, in Spain, and the islands and peninsula that form the San Francisco Bay Area. The characters’ reflections and dreams enact what could be described as “an archipelagic mind,” linking worlds, time, and space.

Phalloi Phaerie emerges from the wood. Forest nymphs with carnivorous flowers begin their mating rituals in a playful, polymorphously perverse return to arcadia. A meeting of Jack Smith and Sid and Marty Krofft in an early Kate Bush music video on a sylvan summer day in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Told through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is an imagined myth for the Xąwįska — or the Indian Pipe Plant — used by the Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted.

"i am very grateful that my 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) series has shown internationally over the last couple years and is recognized by viewers, reviewers, critics, and curators as doing decolonizing work as a feminist project that queers and glitches the Western genre. 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) questions the quintessentially American Western in the forms of experimental films and games that are made from glitches and noise, pushing boundaries of legibility and tipping over threshold states of stability.

Set between Swaziland and South Africa, in a region still struggling with the divisions produced by an apartheid government, Greetings to the Ancestors documents the dream lives of the territory’s inhabitants as the borders of consciousness dissolve and expand. Equal parts documentary, ethnography and dream cinema, herein is a world whose borders are constantly dematerializing.

A chance encounter with a sober student reveals the mystery of a woodland wonder that has left a mark on his youthful psyche just as it leaves huge footprints on the forest floor. A short meditation on a tall terror in the trees that shade shadowy giants from the glare of sanity.

A myth illustrated on the stones of a waterfall, the reconstruction of a great communal hut, the attempt to recover objects kept for years in a museum in Manaus. In IAUARETÊ, Waterfall of the Jaguars the Tariano Indians, of the North-western Amazon, after decades of missionary catechism, decide to make a cultural record for future generations.

Direction: Vincent Carelli

Photography: Vincent Carelli and Altair Paixão

Editing: Joana Collier

Production: IPHAN / Vídeo nas Aldeias

It's the time of celebration and merriment in the Alto Xingu. The dry season is coming to an end. The smell of the damp earth is mixed with the sweet perfume of pequi. But it has not always been like that: if it had not been for a death, the pequi would possibly not exist. Linking the past to the present, Kuikuro filmmakers tell a tale of dangers and pleasures, of sex and betrayal, where men and women, hummingbirds and alligators build a shared world.

Direction: Takumã and Maricá Kuikuro

Photography: Takumã, Mariká, Amuneri, Asusu, Jairão and Maluki

Stephen Varble began Journey to the Sun as a series of performances with projected slides in 1978. After becoming notorious for unauthorized costume performances on Soho streets in the mid 1970s, Varble receded from his public persona at this time. Deriving from his identification with his idol, the reclusive actress Greta Garbo, and informed by the spiritual practice of Subud, Varble began writing an allegorical epic about a musician, the Grey Crowned Warbler, who undergoes tribulation and metamorphosis on a journey to transcendence.

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.

Poet Leticia Plotkin's final poem, intended to praise the ancient deities who control one's fate, turns instead into a bitter damnation scribbled in venom.

“To take back the gold that was stolen from us – this is the object of our actions.”

Lettres du Voyant is a documentary-fiction about spiritism and technology in contemporary Ghana, which attempts to uncover some truths about a mysterious practice called "Sakawa" — internet scams mixed with voodoo magic. Tracing back the scammers’ stories to the times of Ghanaian independence, the film proposes Sakawa as a form of anti-neocolonial resistance. 

Little Spirits is about a young girl who plays a trick on a friend, unaware or uninterested in the possible consequences.

This title is also available on Cecelia Condit Videoworks: Volume 2

In this surreal experimental narrative, there’s something wrong with a patch of sky. As it travels over Southern England, objects cast up into it come down hugely enlarged, bloated. Meanwhile in London, the patch is in fact a troubling scab on a crippled old man’s head. As the scab develops, all he can do is wait, going through the changes, led on gently by the idiot-savant son with his childlike multiple identities.

In the film Mad Ladders, the prophetic ramblings of an unseen narrator recount fantastical dreams of the coming Rapture, as crystalline imagery of rolling clouds gives way to heavily-processed video of moving stage sets from The American Music Awards telecasts of the 1980s and early 1990s. Blooming and pulsing in and out of geometric abstraction, this swirling storm of rising curtains, spinning set pieces, and unveiled pop idols forms an occult spectacle, driven by its impassioned narrator and an 8-bit leitmotif.