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Millennium Film Journal No. 70 Launch Screening: Program Notes

BODY MEMORY  MFJ No. 70 Screening  

Anthology Film Archives, November 20th, 2019  7:30

“I came to think of the film strip as a body that’s acquiring memory.”  Alexandre Larose, quoted in Tess Takahashi’s article on his film Brouillard #14

The works in this program are all featured in Millennium Film Journal No. 70. The body is a consistent presence in the issue — as image of self-identity, as corporate culture batteleground, as representation of colonialist tendencies in sculptural memorials, and as reminder of the demise of several major figures in our field.

Adam and Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys: Culture Capture: Terminal Addition (2019 digital 7')

Five of us inside. Accomplices, masked and armed. A shoulder mounted Canon EOS C100 and a 7D for a sidearm. Two grenade-like VR cameras Laser scanners. A cluster of GoPro’s resembling a naval mine. We’re about to commit a heist. The target: a massie statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle.

[…]What if a shadowy militant cell started breaking into universities and museums, digitally reclaiming indigenous patrimony, and disappearing public monuments to colonialism? The NRO is not offering how-to guides but rather pre-figuring possible modes of resistance. Positing the reterritorialization of indigenous culture in the digital realm, they reveal and contest how the settler colonial imaginary has already claimed the digital “frontier” in advance, as well as the futurity with which it is associated.

—Patrick Harrison, “New Red Order”

Alexandre Larose: Brouillard #14 (2012 35mm 10')

In much the same way that many popular data visualizations compress decades into a few seconds or minutes, brouillard #14 condenses and averages over forty individual ten-minute walks into a single ten-minute cinematic passage. Although a film in itself, brouillard #14 could be thought of as a visualization that points to a massive number of recorded, but unseen passages made at various times of day under differing weather conditions in different seasons. Despite its visual vibrations and disjoints, brouillard #14‘s layering of ambulatory passes through the Quebec landscape surrounding the home of Larose’s parents produces an average of experience that results in a relatively steady amalgamated image.

—Tess Takahashi, “Alexandre Larose’s brouillard #14: Analog Experimental Film as Data Visualization”

Ardele Lister: Sugar Daddy (1980 video 30')

… we look over old family photos and scattered audio cassettes, Lister explains that for 20 years her father had a mistress, Eva M.: a warm and generous woman whom the child Ardele knew and loved, and a prostitute. In a remarkable breach of patriarchal rules, the two stayed in touch throughout the affair, and Eva’s confidence in Lister was such that she sent her audio recordings in the hope that she would write her biography. What follows is an uncanny reenactment[…]

Sugar Daddy is a feminist pharmakon, as Lister willfully ingests the poison of the male-identified woman. It is an exorcism, not only of Eva but of the female tendency to give too much, to build our lives around men, to identify with their desire of us. Sugar Daddy succeeds thrillingly in converting female ressentiment into healing, creative power.

—Laura U. Marks, “Ardele Lister’s Divine Irony”

Marie Losier: Byun, Objet Trouvé (2012 digital 7')

. . .all my films reflect something of the work of the person: in the film’s rhythm, in the way it’s collaged together in editing, or in the way it’s shot. Byun is a North Korean artist, and he escaped the dictatorship there. He’s a very talented painter. When he came to New York he started collecting these found objects, finding trash objects and buying some. He started transforming them so they became inhabited by stories. They would be articulated and he would often add motors. He slowly accumulated so many things and transformed them that his house became a museum. Because he’s not very good at speaking English, I thought the best way to make a portrait of Byun – because I was very much attracted to his objects – was animation. He’s the center of all of this family of objects, the king of the kingdom.

—Marie Losier, in Joel Schlemowitz’s “A Playground for Filmmaking: An Interview with Marie Losier”

Shana Moulton: The Galactic Pot Healer and Whispering Pines 7 (2012 digital 13')

Two things [in the Galactic Pot Healer] are especially striking. One is the contrast between the action and the setting—that its esoteric ritual takes place in a strip mall spa. But this sense of incongruity reflects a real condition, the gradual absorption of New age by mass culture […] Among the common tropes of the New Age healing narrative is that the self must be dismembered before it can be made whole. Visualization and channeling, aromatherapy and crystals are aids to that labor of self-excavation. Moulton’s deft use of the video medium has often been used to portray such experience—to make graphically manifest the metaphysics of feeling-good. […] Cultural techniques of healing and spirit switch from tchotchkes to touch screens, from pink sand to pixels. Both image and self are composed of many layers and the astral plane coincides with the digital picture plane[…]

The riddle posed by Whispering Pines as a whole is: what’s wrong? Each episode attempts in some way to solve it. Moulton offers one clue in Whispering Pines 7 (2006) when she sings in the form of a cubistic sphinx: “Now that I’m a woman, everything is strange.”

—Faith Holland & Seth Watter “From Picture Plane to Astral Plane: Shana Moulton’s Whispering Pines”

 

 

Program is partially funded by NYSCA through the Millennium Film Workshop, publisher of the Millennium Film Journal.