Ritual

50 Blue, 2009

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.

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.

Ashura, 2013

The Battle of Karbala (680) resulted in the death of Hussein, the grandson of prophet Muhammad and all his supporters. This battle is central to Shi'a Muslim belief in which the martyrdom of Hussein is mourned by an annual commemoration, Ashura. Artist Köken Ergun has worked with Istanbul's Shiite minority, documenting their preparations for the Ashura day.

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.

Cilaos, 2016

To keep a promise made to her dying mother, a young woman goes off in search of her father, a womanizer she has never met. Along the way, she soon learns that he is dead. But that doesn’t change her plans, she still intends to find him. Carried by the spell-binding rhythm of the Maloya, a ritual chant from Réunion Island, Cilaos explores the deep and murky ties that bind the dead and the living.

Dead Body Pose absurdly touches the contemporary bubble, encapsulating both connectivity and spirituality, a connection fueled by the global capitalistic consumption of the self. The more we are in the connectivity loop, the more thirsty we are for spirituality and assign it "a time slot". In the video, the artist performs the yoga rest pose Shavasana (dead body pose) as computer cursors come out of her body cavities and connect to their own spirituality together with her chakra affirmations.

Distracted Blueberry follows a performance art band through a series of poetic encounters. Masculine tropes are undone to form a relationship between male sexuality and the human death drive. The body, violence and humour are positioned in the larger context of nothingness and somethingness, bridging a tension between externalized anxieties and the terrors of nature. Evocative of inner emotional states, strange landscapes exist as reflections of our shared dreams and nightmares.

Viewer discretion advised 

Drills, 2020

Drills is a film about the choreography of preparing for the future. A hybrid documentary and experimental dance film reimagining the form of the Cold War-era, US government-produced social guidance film, Drills asks what futures we are preparing for through the exercises embodying present anxieties. Weaving in between multiple forms of choreography and documentation, Drills restages lockdown and active shooter drills, frames corporate and tech start-up office meditation, and reperforms Boy Scout drills from the 1917 Boy Scout manual.

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.

Home Exercises is a short dancefilm and hybrid documentary investigating the gestural habits and choreographies of aging individuals in their homes.

The idea of suspension is evoked on shifting registers – as levitation, cessation, preservation, and suspense – and located in sites whose identities slip as we track through a space within a space.

Camera, Edit, Sound Design: Deborah Stratman
Scroll: T’ang Yin
Dolly: Matthew Thompson

 

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.

The personal odyssey recorded in The Laughing Alligator combines methods of anthropological research with diaristic essay, mixing objective and subjective vision. Recorded while Downey and his family were living among the Yanomami people of Venezuela, this compelling series of anecdotes tracks his search for an indegenous cultural identity.

This video is related to Seven Years of Living Art (a seven-year performance of personal endurance Montano began in December of 1984) and adopts the Zen Chakra system of seven centers as a structuring device. The adoption of the Chakra system arises from Montano’s commitment to the study of Eastern culture and religion.

Using performance as a means of personal transformation and catharsis, Mitchell’s Death mourns the death of Montano’s ex-husband. Every detail of her story, from the telephone call announcing the tragedy, to visiting the body, is chanted by Montano as her face, pierced by acupuncture needles, slowly comes into focus then goes out again. The chanting is reminiscent of Buddhist texts, while the needles signify the pain that is necessary for healing and understanding.

Morayngava: the “design of things.” Yngiru: the box of the spirits, the films, just like xaman dreams. This is how the Asurini define video, which has just arrived in their village. After discovering that it is possible to store their images, the old men lament that they never stored images of their ancestors and decided to register the initiation of a xaman, a tradition threatened by new times.

Directed by Virginia Valadão and Regina Müller.

In Assurini with English subtitles.

Morayngava: the “design of things.” Yngiru: the box of the spirits, the films, just like xaman dreams. This is how the Asurini define video, which has just arrived in their village. After discovering that it is possible to store their images, the old men lament that they never stored images of their ancestors and decided to register the initiation of a xaman, a tradition threatened by new times.

Directed by Virginia Valadão and Regina Müller.

In Assurini with English subtitles.

Kuchar makes it to the Isis Oasis resort just in time to catch the marriage vows of his friends Rebecca and Steve. Transposing the myth of Isis in their union, Kuchar tries to make sense of this recreated paradise, this gathering of God’s creatures, and the fates of Rebecca von Hettman and Charlie Sheen—in this humid, steamy, stained story of the transmigration of souls.

This surreal, free-form autobiography is concerned with childhood and adult rituals, and the longing for meaning and connection during the often wildly absurd events of early life. Obsessive Becoming returns to Reeves’s early exploration of personal narrative forms, poetry, and his interest in creating a more spontaneous and direct fusion between language and video. Words and images of the expectations and disappointments of coming of age break down the boundaries of both mediums.

It is in Pan’s playground where one hears lyrical words that echo in deep realms of imagination where one can dance with inspiration.  But it is not all fun with fulfillment. The playground has vegetation with thorns that inflict the brain with a fever…

Ken Mate, a 56 year old solipsistic individual, recites Finnegan's Wake while doing sit-ups, talks about talking, and kvetches when a neighbor "steals" the first tomato from his hand-cultivated garden. Drawn from the inside out, this portrait describes who Ken is rather than describing what he does. Commissioned by and presented at the Second Annual Silver Lake Film Festival, 2001.

“Animists are people who recognise that the world is full of persons, some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others.”

-- Graham Harvey, Animism

Trance dance and water implosion, a kino-line drawn between secular freak-outs and religious phenomena. Filmed in a single take at a sacred site on the Upper Suriname River, the minor secrets of a Saramaccan animist's everyday are revealed as time itself is undone. Rites are the new Trypps -- embodiment is our eternal everything.

A Japanese Kabuki-influenced performance piece, shot in the woods in Winter. A masked woman emerges from a snowy forest and approaches a stone dwelling, where another woman is waiting.  The pair enact a tea ceremony in silence. 

In the next scene the tea tray appears in the road, and then disappears after a car passes.  Image processing magic.

Please note, production year is approximate.

Tochka, 2010

Tochka depicts a journey made by anonymous group through a rough landscape. After many hardships, they arrive at a shallow ravine where they decide to build a rickety wooden bridge so that they can cross to the other side. Utilizing low-tech handmade machinery and a cumbersome logic, the film questions collective ideology and the process of making art as a community.

 

 

The first video of the installation Touch Parade, which as a whole explores “plastic love” or fetish culture and the assimilation of marginalized sexuality on the internet. In questioning what is an explicit and/or illicit image, fetishes found on YouTube that consist of banal gestures, are re-performed. Unlike other pornographic content, these videos evade censoring because they are not culturally recognized as representations of sexuality.