Health

This video collects public service announcements created by a number of independent producers, including Jem Cohen and Michael Stipe of R.E.M.  Powerful and provocative, these PSAs address issues such as organic farming, abortion rights, street harassment, and the environment. Included are:

They Have Dreams by Natalie Merchant and Abigail Simon which focuses on the plight of homeless children.

The third compilation in this series of progressive, creative public service announcements for under-reported issues. Featuring various styles and formats, from street photography to optical printing, from edgy black and white film to hand-drawn animation, the seven spots in this latest installment are:

The Breathing Tree by Eric Darnell and Doug Loveid, an animated easy-to-understand explanation of how forests contribute to life by producing oxygen.

In this tape, the Videofreex record their visit with Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld, then recognized widely for his popular medical advice column, Dear Dr. Hip Pocrates, which doled out information about sex and drugs. At the time of this session in November 1969, Schoenfeld had recently published a book based on his advice column, and was also serving as a member of the editorial board of Modern Medicine.

Epilogue: The Palpable Invisibility of Life is the final chapter in The Blindness Series, a body of eight videos on blindness and its metaphors that was begun in 1992. The inspiration for the series came from a 1990 exhibition Jacques Derrida curated for the Louvre Museum, titled Memoirs of the Blind.

"I'm not finished. I don't know how long it's going to take. As far as I'm concerned I'm officially dead."

In his 50th year, Colin looks back on a life of drug and alcohol abuse. Four years into recovery, he is angry and articulate about addiction, treatment, and the romance of the street. In the chaos and claustrophobia of an ice storm, Colin waits to be reborn. His erratic angel is late.

In Excerpts from Behold Goliath, Tom Kalin presents four experimental short films inspired by American writer Alfred Chester (1928-71), who in 1964 published a collection of short stories of the same name. Each of Kalin's films, Some Desperate Crime on My Head (2003), The Robots of Sodom (2002), Every Evening Freedom (2002), and Salad Days (2004), devotedly exploits Chester's words with computer voice-synthesizers, and juxtaposes them with music, film and hand-drawn images.

Fighting Chance is a continuation of Richard Fung’s previous documentary Orientations, which told of the personal challenges and struggles of Asian-Canadian gays and lesbians to express their sexual identities. When Fung produced Orientations in 1984, AIDS had not yet fully manifested itself (particularly among Asians), but by 1991, as we see in Fighting Chance, the epidemic has become threateningly widespread. Individuals and couples candidly discuss the various hurdles and challenges that AIDS has presented.

Glass Jaw, 1991

In this impressionistic piece, O’Reilly provides a gripping portrait of personal trauma, while detailing the severe mental and physical confusion following two incidents. In April of 1991, O'Reilly broke his jaw in a biking accident, and in July of that same year he was assaulted and had to undergo brain surgery as a result. The video is breathtaking, as O’Reilly narrates the painful story of his recovery, his problems with Public Aid, and his daily adjustment to pain.

A meditation on the nature of “Nature” and the uncertainty of “Cause and Effect.”

“Originally (like most of my earlier film work) this was a performance piece: text performed alongside the projected image. A complex and absurd ‘story’ about a man who thought there was something wrong with his eye. He goes to the doctor, who can’t help him much, but he finds a way he can operate on himself with uplifting yet troubling results.”

—Jennet Thomas

Super-8 and 8mm, film mattes, painting directly onto film, and model/object animation.

Habit, 2001

Habit is an autobiographical documentary that follows the current history of the AIDS epidemic along dual trajectories: the efforts of South Africa’s leading AIDS activist group, the Treatment Action Campaign, struggling to gain access to AIDS drugs and the daily routine of the videomaker, a veteran AIDS activist in the U.S. who has been living with AIDS for more than ten years.

With various trips to the seashore, this summer travelette becomes an inner journey through mythical realms populated by rubberized horrors. The viewer is transported into a caregiver’s nightmare where mother and son share the fruits and bones of undigested demands. These figments of fermented atrocities pile up in a barrage of bestial assaults inflamed into hellish reality by reading material of unwholesome content. Fantasy lumbers into reality with an unrelenting menu of severed ties and familial knots that tighten around the neck of he who dabbles with dementia.

Juxtaposing feminist readings of medical tracts, narratives of patient treatment and archival footage, I Need Your Full Cooperation reveals the evolution of women’s relationship to modern medicine. The video dramatizes Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “rest cure”, adapting her 1892 story "The Yellow Wallpaper", and includes critical commentary by activist/writer Barbara Ehrenreich and historian Carroll Smith-Rosenberg.

(In) Visible Women shows the heroic responses of three women with AIDS in the context of their respective communities. In the face of adversity, these women confront all aspects of the AIDS crisis in their lives. Through poetry, art, activism, and dance, they explode notions of female invisibility and complacency in the face of AIDS. We hear each woman describe how she came to terms with being HIV+ and joined others in speaking out about the neglected needs of women.

This experimental video breaks many the silences surrounding lesbians and AIDS. Interweaving the voices of two friends—an HIV+ Latina lesbian and an HIV- Jewish lesbian—the video juxtaposes two very different yet overlapping experiences. The piece points to the often unspoken tensions occurring within this epidemic—survival and power, mourning and loss.

During Videofreex member David Cort's travels to Jerusalem, a scene was shot in a hospital where a female patient is having electrodes attached to her body. The cameraman gets on the cot and has the electrodes attached to him as they talk about making a brain feedback machine for use at home. The next scene records the cameraman walking the streets of Jerusalem. People passing by interact with the camera.

Karaoke, 1998

An ailing, elderly man listens to a private performance in his room. The singing is a halting mix cross-cultural-Inuktitut and Country & Western. Transgressive and mesmerizing, Karaoke distorts the landscapes of sound and body.

In Inukitut.

This title is also available on Donigan Cumming: Controlled Disturbance and Donigan Cumming Videoworks: Volume 1.

Kepone, 1991

Against images of an inventor-chemist juggling brightly colored molecules, psychedelic arms passing out pesticides, and nightmarish landscapes that include trapped live subjects, Oursler presents Hopewell, Virginia—a turn-of-the-century boomtown gone bust, and host to a Kepone pesticide manufacturing plant since 1966. Although Kepone’s extreme toxicity was well established by 1964, production grew and employees continued to be exposed to the carcinogen—eventually poisoning the surrounding area and the James River for years to come.

kore, 1994

 

By focusing on the blindfold, kore explores the eye as purveyor of desire, sexual fear, and the fantasy of blindness. An alternative sexuality is founded in touch-based (feminine?) pleasure as opposed to a vision-based (masculine?) pleasure. An examination of institutional blindspots towards women, and people of color, concerning AIDS expands on the issue of vision, visibility and the disease.

This title is also available on Tran, T. Kim-Trang: The Blindness Series.

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.

Locke’s Way is the photographic path to knowledge, full of twists and turns, treacherously steep. What has happened down here? A family’s photographs tell us everything and nothing about the subterranean past. "One of the central questions of philosophy has always been: what can be known? Locke’s Way provides a vivid illustration of this perennial philosophical dilemma. In this short video, Donigan Cumming is preoccupied with the story of his older brother, who seems to have been brain-damaged and spent much of his life in institutions.

Treating the problem of anorexia nervosa from the parents' perspective, Rosler presents a mother and father speaking about the tragedy of their daughter's death as a result of dieting. The conversation turns toward the irony of self-starvation in a land of plenty and toward the international politics of food, where food aid is used as a negotiating tool. Confronting a serious issue, Rosler simultaneously sets into play the confessional form and the ghoulish staginess of talk show dramatics.

Kipnis describes this tape as "an appropriation of the aesthetics of both late capitalism and early Soviet cinema—MTV meets Eisenstein—reconstructing Karl Marx for the video age.” She presents a postmodern lecture delivered by a chorus of drag queens on the unexpected corelations between Marx’s theories and the carbuncles that plagued the body of the rotund thinker for over thirty years. Marx’s erupting, diseased body is juxtaposed with the “body politic", and posited as a symbol of contemporary society proceeding the failed revolutions of the late 1960s.

Mind Zone, 2015

"Every object in the room will outlive him. The aspirin bottle is two hundred miles away and his robe is in another time zone."

—Mike Kuchar

In My Dinner With Weegee Donigan Cumming weaves together two life stories. The central figure, a man in his seventies named Marty, remembers his experiences in New York as a young Catholic labour organizer and peace activist, his friendships with David Dellinger, the Berrigan brothers, Bayard Rustin, Weegee, and James Agee. This mixture of first-hand knowledge and gossip brightens Marty’s dark passage—he is old, sick, depressed, and alcoholic.

Nine Fish, 1996

From childhood memories to recurring nightmares, Nine Fish attacks and illuminates the indecision and confusion surrounding euthanasia and care of the elderly in the United States. In this deeply spiritual and personal video, director Kip Fulbeck chronicles his Cantonese grandmother's physical decline and its continuing impact on his family. The shifting complexities of personal identity, family communication, and cultural assimilation are explored through nine semi-fictional stories.