Keep In Touch!
Curated by Astria Suparak with Lauren Cornell
For The New York Underground Film Festival
@ Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY
March 8, 8pm + March 11, 9:15pm, 2002
Videos, film, audio by:
Stephanie Barber, Messieurs Delmotte, Jim Finn, Jacqueline Goss, Miranda July, Bjørn Melhus, Seth Price, Leslie Thornton, Zakery Weiss, Matt Wolf
Re-enactments and (r)evolution. “I thought I was the next Messiah.” Yeah, I’ve been working on our fake naturalism- the glum gestures of love and natural selection; artificial intelligence, learned behavior, replacements, endangered species. Isolation vs. intimacy, so precious. Making the wrong choices, and the power of denial. My mimesis/ mitosis. Stay Real, ‘K?
It’s the tension between being so close, and not even really at all, just believing in something that looks like you. You do look so good against this century’s haze. But it’s not enough just to see you. I want to be there too. Young people always forward!
1. Dear Auntie, Matt Wolf, film to video, loop. World Premiere
“An exquisitely plain woman sits in front of the imposing lens and thick bellows of a Victorian camera as her flinching eyes snap the shutter of gender-bending family memory.” – M.W.
2. Untitled., Zakery Weiss, video, 4:30 minutes
The artifice of artsy Arte: “So it happens like this. You’re seated in a dark room. Your eyes are closed. When you open them you are greeted by an endless blue field of light. You are everything and everything is a lie. But you take it all to be true.” – Z.W.
3. Triumf, Seth Price, video, 15:00 excerpt of 60 minute work.
“An old drinking buddy of Ronald Reagan’s paused for a moment by his rural log cabin. The sun was at its zenith. In the sudden stillness one could hear the buzz of dying junebugs and the mournful trilling of August’s last tree-frog: Autumn was on her way. The breeze was laden with the rich smells of dark loam and decaying leaves. He squinted against the pale October sun. It would only be a month or so before his old friend’s legacy would be borne out by the highest court in the land. He shook his head slightly, a smile playing over his rough-hewn features, and took up his axe: he had a great deal of wood to split before dusk.” – S.P.
4. Have A Nice Day Alone, Leslie Thornton, video, 7:00 minutes
Inverted A.I. with a technological, nervous twitch and a customized cosmic brand. “A number of subjects gazed continually into the light…”
5. El Güero, Jim Finn, film on video, 2:40 minutes. New York Premiere
Love and communism: “Three sing-alongs with a white rat, a red t-shirt and the cowboy music of the Mexican Sinatra.” – J.F.
6. The Drifters excerpts: Good Together; The Fruit, Miranda July, audio, approximately 1:00- 3:30 minutes
“These are selections from 20 short recordings Miranda made for the elevator in the Whitney Museum, currently playing there as part of the Whitney Biennial. This is what they were saying when you couldn’t quite hear, it was all about adults loving other people’s children, risks taken with disastrous results and women aging suddenly.” – M.J.
7. The 100th Undone, Jacqueline Goss, video, silent, 9:00 minutes
A love letter of sorts, The 100th Undone considers the individual in the age of biotechnical reproduction. Using outdated video equipment, Goss’ tape takes on the textures of analog media in order to write a personalized pre-history for human clones.
8. Ce qui est fait le mal est fait, Messieurs Delmotte, video, 4:00 minutes. New York Premiere
“What would happen if you were to go into your neighbour’s house without their authorisation, in order to kiss them on the mouth, and ended up really doing it? …This is not a performance and even less a good idea.” – M.D.
Mystery artist “Monsieur Delmotte” performs silent-movie hijinks with disregard for dignity and limb.
9. Dogs, Stephanie Barber, 16mm film, 15:00 minutes. New York Premiere
“a mini revolution. wrong choices. divorce of the ethereal beauty and mystery so common in experimental film, in my films. what begins as awkward or ‘tender’ unfolds itself to show a deceptive, strangely rigid, formalism commented by the content… hyper-reflexivity. art and love and the role faith plays in each… this film requires a great deal of faith, because it is strange and labile. its device-ness is so apparent as to have left it naked, and then so naked as to be, perhaps, closed again (so that it is possible i have lied about the divorce).” – S.B.
10. The Drifters, excerpts: The Star; Night Blindness, Miranda July, audio, approximately 2:00- 3:30 minutes
11. No Sunshine, Bjorn Melhus, video, 6:15 minutes
A short story about new bodies, the power of denial and a state of no sunshine. A glance over the shoulder means destruction. The soundtrack is sourced from Stevie Wonder songs and the musings of a pre-teen Michael Jackson.
THE INDEPENDENT FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE:
Several of NYUFF’s most appealing shows were produced by guest curators like… “Keep In Touch”, curated by Astria Suparak and Lauren Cornell, featured such highlights as Jacqueline Goss’s THE 100TH UNDONE, a whip-smart, unsettling and oddly touching reflection on the genome, cloning advances, and the “post-human” future. Seth Price’s hilarious TRIUMF deflates American frontier mythology and macho bluster with an inspired rant, while its picture-perfect autumnal tableau sports the most vivid foliage to be found this side of a Sirk melodrama. Other selections by Leslie Thornton, Stephanie Barber, and Zakery Weiss attested to the curators’ gossamer touch with heavyweight artists and themes.
– Ioannis Mookas, “When They’re Bad, They’re Better: The 9th New York Underground Film Festival“
Curatorial hit – tours USA
Following the resounding success of her programme at the Anthology Film Archives (NYC), curator Astria Suparak is now taking [“Keep In Touch!”] on a tour of five American cities. In New York the programme of short films and videos- by Miranda July, Seth Price, Bjørn Melhus and others – interspersed with audio pieces, received accolades from both filmmakers and the press. According to Bjørn Melhus: “The room was packed like I’ve hardly ever seen in a cinema, the audience loved it and we all had a wonderful, stimulating evening. I was so happy to finally be able to watch videos in a cinema instead of an exhibition room.” Amy Taubin commented in the Village Voice: “Peripatetic curator Astria Suparak has an eye for the strange and ineffable.” The young curator (23) is currently at work preparing further programmes.
CASHIERS DU CINEMART:
It may just be my hazy memory, but I swear that the New York Underground Film Festival I first attended four years ago has little in common with the one I saw this year. That’s no criticism though. Unless of course you consider tighter, smarter films and a more sharply focused curatorial mission liabilities…
But on the arty front, Astria Suparak’s Keep in Touch! program definitely took the cake ..Her selections, they’re certainly unpredictable, and often take you by surprise. Typical was Seth Price’s TRIUMF, a good-humored satire on political campaign bonhomie. A Lincolnesque woodchopper with an appallingly fake coif delivers several versions of a monologue on the good character and moral uprightness that Ronald Wilson Reagan brought to the White House. It’s plainly tongue in cheek, yet not condescending. There’s no hectoring; Price just reminds you that platitudes and cheery pictures can’t substitute for substance. For a “political film,” it’s remarkably disinterested.
Even more peculiar are Leslie Thornton’s HAVE A NICE DAY ALONE and Stephanie Barber’s DOGS. Thornton’s film draws from her epic PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL, and touches on many of the same themes: childhood, language and sociology. Based on a series of what appear to be elliptical PowerPoint slides, dissolving into close-up images of peculiar looking children, HAVE A NICE DAY ALONE mimics a scientific presentation which lacks some element critical to understanding its intended sense. It’s like a computer is trying to organize data based solely on patterns, without any rules as to what constitutes a meaningful relationship. Barber’s DOGS is easy to hate, but its cloyingly sophomoric patter deepens the longer you listen. The 15-minute film consists of nothing more than several angles on two garishly crude hand puppets of dog heads, bobbing as they “talk” to each other. The dialogue is maddeningly poorly recorded, but their conversation is one typical of tipsy aimless bohemians chatting at a party. Both participants are sensitive and thoughtful, and yet incapable of meaningfully communicating with one another. They discuss matters of consequence – mental health, love, art and artmaking, and yet when the conversation ends it is gone, and you’re left with just the image, the nodding heads, and the cartoonish grins of the puppets.
– Brian Frye
Zakery Weiss’ “Untitled” attacks the subject of artistry by creating a piece that took on the form of a preamble in which he self-consciously mocks the honesty of art. Seth Price’s “Triumf” presents a charismatic fictional drinking buddy of Ronald Reagan who continually repeats the same story, ad nauseum. The result is an experience where the audience is taken in by the charm of this stranger, yet confronted by the repetitive nature of storytelling.
– Tim LaTorre