The program notes are anxious to be held and read, and the cupcakes cannot wait to meet you. See you tonight!
QUESTION & ANSWER #3
I’ve asked each artist to offer up a favorite question they’ve been asked about the work featured in the show, and to provide the answer. This is the third and final round.
LEWIS KLAHR (Wednesday Morning Two A.M.)
(asked by Rotterdam International Film Festival)
Q: What would you like to say to your audience before seeing your film?
A: If after watching my film you can’t immediately translate your experience back into words, don’t worry, that’s a good thing. I aim to create an experience that lingers for its audience — a kind of time release that takes a period of contemplation both conscious and unconscious to digest.
SCOTT STARK (Speechless)
(excerpted from a longer essay by Stark about the film’s background)
The film became, for me, a celebration of a raw, mysterious and sometimes fearful beauty, exploding with images of power and presence, of a part of the female body that is, one could argue, under-represented and seldom looked at, except when crudely sexualized in modern porn or subjected to the sterile scrutiny of the physician’s gaze. Yet the images also invite pleasure; animated, they might appear to be speaking, forming words and sentences using a vocabulary that, with our unversed eyes and ears, we’re unable to parse, and hence assume the speakers’ voices muted; but perhaps it is we who are left speechless.
BEN COONLEY (Why Cecco Beppe Does Not Die (Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Edition))
(asked by YouTube user ploughd87)
Q: i don’t know anything about art. what do i need to know to get this
A: You need an advanced degree in semiotics and a broad understanding of the history/theory of the avant-garde. Beyond that, you need to understand that cats and babies are both soooooo cute, but in very different (and often dissonant) ways. Otherwise, the video won’t make sense. Sorry!
QUESTION & ANSWER #2
I’ve asked each artist to offer up a favorite question they’ve been asked about the work featured in the show, and to provide the answer. The second round is in. One more to come…
ELY KIM (Wally & Me)
Q: Why is this video so hilarious?
A: The most striking thing about showing this piece, especially in larger groups, is that people tend to laugh so hard. And sure I intended it to be sort of funny, but I’m always a little taken aback at HOW much laughing happens. Schadenfreude, I guess.
JANIE GEISER (The Fourth Watch)
(asked by Lainna Fader for LA Record, in speaking about the role of dream-logic in Geiser’s films)
Q: What’s one of the most anxiety-inducing dreams you’ve ever had?
A: I had a dream one time that I died. You’re not supposed to do that. You’re not supposed to die in your dreams.
Q: What? I’ve had several of those dreams…
A: Really? Okay, good, I’m not the only one. Maybe it didn’t come quite to the end because they say if you die in your dreams then you really die. The air was going out of my body, and I was shrinking, and it was really terrible. It was kind of scary, and kind of fascinating. That’s the thing about terror in dreams—and in real life too. We’re fascinated by it. You know, fires are fascinating as well as terrifying and sad.
KEITH WILSON (The Shrimp)
Q: Where did you find that amazing drag queen?
A: She isn’t a drag queen! But I love that you queered my not-so-queer film.
QUESTION & ANSWER #1
I’ve asked each artist to offer up a favorite question they’ve been asked about the work featured in the show, and to provide the answer. Here are the first three, more to come…
MATT WOLF (Boca)
Q: Is the subject of the film depressed?
A: Eh, glass half empty.
ALLISON SCHULNIK (Mound)
Q: Are the puppets life size?
A: Sadly, no.
JOHN DAVIS (What for What)
(asked by Elizabeth Wing for Artists’ Television Access)
Q: Can you describe for us the way your training as an anthropologist influences the way you see and approach things?
A: I would use the term training loosely… but my studies in cultural anthropology formalized my interest in diversity, and the ways culture informs human behavior and visa versa. It influenced my thinking not so much in a formal scientific way, but rather an impressionistic one. I chose to practice art instead of anthropology because it became clear to me that there is way more authority, truth, and beauty in the subjective/personal voice than in any objective scientific one.
Film reels, files, and DVDs, oh my! I now have all of the prints and masters for the show. They’re spending time together, cuddling, and discussing who will go first. EXCITING! Thanks again to the participating artists for trusting me with their babies. XO.
still from “Why Cecco Beppe Does Not Die (Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Edition)” by Ben Coonley
still from “Boca” by Matt Wolf
still from “Wally & Me” by Ely Kim
stills from “Wednesday Morning Two A.M.” by Lewis Klahr
stills from “What for What” by John Davis
still from “Mound” by Allison Schulnik
still from “The Fourth Watch” by Janie Geiser
stills from “Speechless” by Scott Stark
stills from “The Shrimp” by Keith Wilson
While the show’s title suggests its organizing theme, the featured works represent a wide range of perspectives and aesthetics. The program includes a remake of a lost Italian Futurist film scene, starring a talking cat and two ominous babies (Ben Coonley’s Why Cecco Beppe Does Not Die (Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Edition)), a portrait of late life ennui shot entirely on a mobile phone (Matt Wolf’s Boca), an imagined uncomfortable interview with inflammatory TV personality Wally George (Ely Kim’s Wally & Me), a pop music-paired cut-out animation exploring late night obsessions and love lost (Lewis Klahr’s Wednesday Morning Two A.M.), an intense pondering of a real life death row inmate’s failed execution (John Davis’ What for What), a breathtaking and emotionally stirring stop-motion animation (Allison Schulnik’s Mound), a haunting dream/collage film populated by mysterious apparitions (Janie Geiser’s The Fourth Watch), a mesmerizing and provocative meditation featuring animated 3D photographs of female genitalia (Scott Stark’s Speechless), and a quiet documentary - about a crustacean - that’s at once gorgeous, whimsical and profound (Keith Wilson’s The Shrimp).
- John Palmer
Why Cecco Beppe Does Not Die (Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Edition) by Ben Coonley (2009, 4:40, HD, color, sound)
A remake of a scene from the lost Futurist omnibus film Vita Futurista (1916). Created for “Futurist Life Redux” (2009), a Performa Commission with SFMOMA and Portland Green Cultural Projects. This section was never actually shown with the rest of Vita Futurista, because it was censored by the Italian Ministry of the Interior.
Boca by Matt Wolf (2008, 3:40, video, color, sound)
A short film commissioned by Filmmaker Magazine for Nokia. Directed, produced, shot, and edited by Matt Wolf on a Nokia N95 with music by Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy). Matt Wolf is the director of the acclaimed feature-length documentary “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell” and the upcoming “Teenage.” Known for his sensitive and unorthodox portraits of artists, he has also created work for The New York Times and Sundance Channel.
Wally & Me by Ely Kim (2008, 1:40, video, color, sound)
On the Hot Seat with Wally George. Ely Kim is an Art Director/Dancer/Healer based in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2004 and his MFA from Yale in 2010.
Wednesday Morning Two A.M. by Lewis Klahr (2009, 6:30, video, color, sound)
Using music from The Shangri-Las and the theme of love as its launching point, this animated collage film explores the late night fixations of love lost. One of a series of “Couplets” from the larger Prolix Satori series. Called “the reigning proponent of cut and paste” by J. Hoberman of the Village Voice, master collagist Lewis Klahr has been making films since 1977. He is known for his uniquely idiosyncratic experimental films and cutout animations which have screened extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia – in venues such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Biennial, the New York Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the London Film Festival and Los Angeles Filmforum.
What for What by John Davis (2008, 9:00, super 8mm to video, b&w, sound)
Using the death chamber audio recording from the botched execution of Alpha Otis O’Daniel Stevens, this film encourages continued debate over the practice of capital punishment. John Davis’ films, photographs, and music have been seen and heard at venues as varied as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv.
Mound by Allison Schulnik (2011, 4:30, HD, color, sound)
A celebration of the moving painting. It is a macabre wandering, featuring animation as dance, where its subjects are choreographed in abstract and emotive gesture and movement. The line is blurred between the material elements of painting (texture, color, form) and the physicality and movement of ballet and theater. Music by legendary singer-songwriter Scott Walker. The film is currently on display as part of Schulnik’s solo exhibition of the same name at ZieherSmith in New York. Allison Schulnik’s films, paintings, and sculptures have been exhibited widely, including recent shows at the St. Louis Contemporary Museum; Garage Center, Moscow; Nerman Museum, Kansas; Hammer Museum Flux Screenings, Los Angeles, and many other museum and gallery exhibitions.
The Fourth Watch by Janie Geiser (2000, 10:00, 16mm, color, sound)
A boy turns his head in dread, a woman’s eyes look askance, a sleepwalker reaches into a cabinet which dissolves with her touch, and hands write letters behind disappearing windows. The rooms reveal themselves and fill with impossible, shadowed light. It is not clear who is watching and who is trespassing in this nocturnal drama of lost souls. Music by Tom Recchion. Selected by Film Comment as one of the top 10 experimental films of 2000-2010. Janie Geiser is an internationally recognized experimental filmmaker and object performance/installation artist, whose work is known for its evocation of emotional states, its sense of mystery, and its strength of design. Geiser has been recognized with an an Obie and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and funding from the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Henson Foundation, MapFund, Creative Capital, Jerome Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and others.
Speechless by Scott Stark (2008, 13:00, 16mm, color, sound)
3D photographs of human vulvae are animated and interwoven with surfaces and textures from natural and human-made environments. The genital images were taken from a set of ViewMaster 3D reels that accompanied a textbook entitled The Clitoris, published in 1976 by two medical professionals. Sound by Greg Headley. Awards: Grand prize winner: Black Maria Film Festival (2009), First prize (experimental): Chicago Underground Film Festival (2009), First prize: Milwaukee Underground Film Festival (2009). Scott Stark’s work has been featured in one person shows at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Pacific Film Archive, and his films have won numerous awards including four Black Maria awards. In 2007, he was also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship.
The Shrimp by Keith Wilson (2009, 15:20, HD, color, sound)
A lush visualist’s documentary that follows the life cycle of a shrimp along the marshes of Savannah, Georgia. Beautifully etched images and a canny audio soundtrack create a rich observational work about Southern culture, human folly and the interplay of natural and built environments. Previous screenings include South by Southwest Film Festival, National Gallery of Art, and Black Maria Film festival. Keith Wilson’s films have screened around the world, and his recent photo series “Hyde Park Apartments” at SOFA Gallery was an Artforum's Critic Pick.