WINTER LIGHT screening

Film still: "Black Ice" by Stan Brakhage.
Film still: “Black Ice” by Stan Brakhage.


Curated by Brett Kashmere and Astria Suparak
For the exhibition Embracing Winter
@ The Redhouse, Syracuse, New York
March 8, 2007

Film, video, audio by:
Arnait Women’s Video Workshop, Michael Bell-Smith, Stan Brakhage, Thorsten Fleisch, Jake Kennedy, Kurt Kren, Peter Lipskis, Guy Maddin, Collin Olan, Paper Rad and Wolf Eyes, John Price, Joyce Wieland.

Winter Light revels in the fleeting aesthetics of winter, presenting works that document ice melting, crystals forming, stars twinkling, birds migrating, surreal dreaming, the loss of consciousness and the warmth of a flame.


rec01, Collin Olan, 2001, audio recording, 17:10 minutes, looped
“Brooklyn-based artist Collin Olan offers a dynamite audio piece, which records the melting of a 10-by-10-inch block of ice. As I strapped on the headphones, I was half expecting the deafening silence of a John Cage composition, but found instead a hypnotically compelling 17-minute piece of richly layered audio. Olan’s piece is like music, with rising and falling choruses of trickles and gurgles serendipitously orchestrated by the laws of nature.” – Katherine Rushworth, Syracuse Post Standard

Grid Panic, Michael Bell-Smith, 2006, video, silent, 2 minute loop
“Michael Bell-Smith operates in the gap between animated cartoons and painting with unusual effectiveness. His short digital loops, shown on small screens or painting-like wall monitors, portray landscapes, figures and oblique social commentary. But their main concerns are color, space and light, tweaked and amplified by digital technology and restrained animation… Mr. Bell-Smith brings new and old and static and mobile into a promising, visually enthralling alignment.” – Roberta Smith, The New York Times

Crystals, Peter Lipskis, 1985, 16mm, 4 minutes
A cinematic tribute to William Bentley, a Vermont dairy farmer who pioneered the art of snowflake photography for 46 winters (1885-1931), proving that no two of his 5381 specimens were identical. This film contains about 1500 examples (fewer than the average snowball), showing the incredible variation of design in nature, while producing the effect of an “organic” hexagonal mandala in a state of continual metamorphosis.

Birds at Sunrise, Joyce Wieland, 1985, 16mm, 10 minutes
“The film was originally photographed in 1972. Birds from my window were filmed during the winter, through to the spring, with the early morning light. I became caught up in their frozen world and their ability to survive the bitter cold. I welcomed their chirps and their songs which offered life and hope for spring. In 1984 I was part of a cultural exchange between Canada and Israel. During my visit my unfinished movie came to mind. A connection was established in my mind so that the suffering of the birds became, in a sense, symbolic of the Jews and their survival through suffering. The film begins with the reading in Hebrew of the 23rd Psalm. This lays the spiritual ground to the film. I dedicate this film to Ayala.” – JW

Fire #3, John Price, 2003, 16mm hand-processed, silent, 3 minutes
A hand-processed silent film created on a bitterly cruel winter evening. In a freezing bathroom with a single candle and a roll of very old 3 A.S.A. print stock – it became through the alchemy of light, silver and colour chemistry – a hazy, abstract prayer to the warmth of the sun.

Colonel Canuck, Jake Kennedy, 2003, video, 2.5 minutes
Colonel Canuck is a screen-capture video of a “dialogue-event” in an online environment called Habbo Hotel. Colonel Canuck, the protagonist, is an avatar and, indeed, exemplar of maple-syrup-like Canadian-ness. The video shows the Colonel entering a room in Habbo and then proceeding to riff (aloud) on all things Red Leaf Nation. Many of the Colonel’s references are lost, however, on his unfortunate, Euro-set listeners.

Burn Your House Down (excerpt), Paper Rad / Wolf Eyes, 2001/2004, video, 1 minute
Paper Rad’s canine tribute to Wolf Eyes’ “Burn Your House Down” begins with a snow-covered extraction from “Future Upper Peninsula / Lower Canada, 2003 euro BC.”

Qulliq (Oil Lamp), Arnait Women’s Video Workshop, 1992, video, 12 minutes
Members of Arnait Ikkajurtigiit utilize the “new” technology of video to joyfully re-enact an older technology: the ritual of Qulliq or lighting of the seal oil lamp. They tell the story in song.

31/75 Asyl (Asylum), Kurt Kren, 1975, 16mm, silent, 8 minutes
Recorded over the space of 21 days by selectively masking and exposing the same three rolls of film, the transformations of a landscape are simultaneously recorded in a static image. “Since the weather was changing throughout the time of shooting (March/April) the brightness of the picture is very different from take to take. Sometimes snow is seen on the ground… The exchange of the masks does create movement, but not as a course of time towards a goal.” – Birgit Hein

Black Ice, Stan Brakhage, 1994, 16mm, silent, 2.5 minutes
“I lost sight due to a blow on the head from slipping on black ice (leading to eye surgery, eventually); and now (because of artificially thinned blood) most steps I take outdoors all winter are made in frightful awareness of black ice.” – SB

Odilon Redon, Guy Maddin, 1995, 16mm, b&w, 5 minutes
A startling five-minute tour de force inspired by the work of the eponymous symbolist painter and set on a steam train hurtling across a surreal winter landscape.

Kosmos, Thorsten Fleisch, 2004, 16mm, 5 minutes
“The mystery of the crystals under closer examination. What is it that makes them possess magic powers as claimed by mystics of all ages? Through growing crystals directly on film their mystical qualities shine straight to the screen. Unfiltered, only aided by light which gracefully breaks its rays into rich visual textures.” – TF


Embracing Winter
Curated by Astria Suparak
For the Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse, NY