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.

Altares, 2019

Altares is an audiovisual shrine composed of small temples that contain images of ancient deities.

Amuletos, 2019

The magic life of the objects reanimate the ancestrality of the aesthetic of dream.

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.

Copalli, 2022

This is the invocation to the gods, the incense to the gods. A kinetic dance to the gods. Behold the hieratic nature of Tonatiuh (The Sun) and the ferocity of Tlaltecuhtli (Goddess of the Earth) raising her agitation from the white smoke of the burned Copalli, Mesoamerican aromatic resin, sacred resin that tears celluloid with smoke, white hair, on the dark background of the world.

Coyolxauhqui recasts the mythical dismemberment of the Aztec Moon goddess Coyolxauhqui by her brother Huitzilopochtli, the deity of war, the Sun and human sacrifice. The film is a poem of perception, one that unveils how contemporary Mexican femicide is linked to a patriarchal history with roots in deeper cultural constructs.

Coyote, 2023

This is the howl, gaze, and agitation of the Coyote into the mountain. The Path of the Coyote.

In Danza Solar, Super8 archival footage of dancers is superimposed with 16mm views of the sun (suns). The film evokes a communal solar trance, both Andean and Mesoamerican. Part of a collection of works the collective considers "Shamanic Materialism," Danza Solar is a Mesoamerican spell unleashed.

A brief glimpse into the cycles of Coyolxauhqui, the moon goddess, whose cycles used to be a dance. A fast-paced jazz soundtrack accompanies the quick, darting movements of the moon.

Riffing on relations between grief, love, bodies, and embodiment, this short film features two former professional Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clowns. A Dark Love Story for Clowns weaves together a loosely adapted William Faulkner story with a spiritual ritualistic practice in order to explore the performativity around ethics of care and love.

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.

In the nest of the sun, Xolotl, Huitzilin and Xochitl meet to recover the dance of radiation, whose colorful heat stirs the new fire of their cosmic dance. Part of the Film Tonalli.

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.

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.

This video is a three-channel synchronized composite and is available for educational use only. The three-channel version has the same main body of images as the single channel version, with the loops and the space in between the segments of content offering durational breaks that provide an alternative cyclical way of engaging with story and myth.

See a boy turn into a tiger. See the lad vomit colors of the rainbow. Watch him toss marbles onto wet bathroom tiles while holding up a green skull. See him squirm on warm bedsheets, wearing only soiled socks on his feet…… This kid has a mouthful of flowery words to spit out to you !

This title comprises Witchery (2008), The Tiger (2009), Swan Song (2009), Medusa's Gaze (2010) and Opal Essence (2010) which were compiled into this form by Mike Kuchar in 2022.

At this time even the flowery wars are ready to begin and the flowery atavism begins to flash. The flowers, the skulls, the moon and the sun are ready for the sacrificial trance. Part of Tonalli.

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

This title is also available as part the Movement Exercises trilogy.

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

 

Irradiation is the thermal emanation of vital heat, the ancestral support that immerses beings in the solar blood. This is the immersion of beings in the bloody solar flow that gives the intense color of our present time. Part of Tonalli.

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.