Upside Down Worlds
4 – 6 p.m.
BEYOND GUILT trilogy (41 min, video, 2003-2005) by Maayan Amir and Ruti Sela. The series “Beyond Guilt” addresses the undermining of the power relation between photographer and photographed, men and women, the public domain and the private sphere, object and subject. As the film’s directors, Sela and Amir take an active part in the occurrence. They seduce the interviewees on the one hand, and turn the camera over to them, on the other. The choice of pick-up bar bathroom or hotel room as shooting locations strives to represent an underworld with its language and signifiers. The quick encounter before the camera calls to mind the ephemeral nature of intimate relations, but most of all the works allude to the influences of the occupation, terror and army as constitutors of an Israeli identity even in the most private moments, The sexual identity and the military-political identity seem intertwined inseparably.
FROZEN WAR (11 min, video, 2002) by John Smith. A disorienting experience while attempting to watch the TV news in an Irish hotel room triggers a spontaneous response to the bombing of Afganistan. Frozen War is the first episode in the Hotel Diaries series, a collection of video recordings made in the world’s hotel rooms, which relate personal experiences and reflections to contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.
PROTOTYPE (GOD BLESS AMERICA) (1 min, video, 2006) by Martha Rosler. In this new video work, Rosler presents a short but incisive statement. A mechanical toy figure dressed as an American soldier plays “God Bless America” on a trumpet. The camera pans down, revealing that the toy’s camouflage-clad trouser leg has been rolled up to uncover a mechanism that looks uncannily like a prosthetic limb.
STRATEGIC CYBER DEFENSE: FOR TOP MILITARY OFFICIALS (4:18 min, video, 2006) by Dara Greenwald. What is the US Department of Defense’s central research and development organization telling top military officials about the threat of the “international enemy”? And who is acting in their training videos?
STATE OF THE UNION (1:43 min, video, 2003) by Bryan Boyce. Completed in August 2001, this project was initially just a simple comic skewering of George W. Bush and his defense policies—but after September 11th, it took on a whole new meaning. State of the Union now has a surreal documentary quality that is genuinely disturbing.
HOSTAGE: THE BUCHAR TAPES (16:17 min, video, 2001) by Walid Ra’ad is an experimental documentary about “The Western Hostage Crisis.” The crisis refers to the abduction and detention of Westerners like Terry Anderson, and Terry Waite in Lebanon in the 80s and early 90s by “Islamic militants.” This episode directly and indirectly consumed Lebanese, U.S., French, and British political and public life, and precipitated a number of high-profile political scandals like the Iran-Contra affair in the U.S. In Hostage: The Bachar Tapes, the “Western Hostage Crisis” is examined through the testimony of Souheil Bachar. Mr. Bachar was held hostage in Lebanon between 1983 and 1993. What is remarkable about Souheil’s captivity is that he was the only Arab to have been detained with the Western hostages kidnapped in Beirut in the 1980’s. In fact, Souheil was held for 3 months in 1985 in the same cell as five American men: Terry Anderson, Thomas Sutherland, Benjamin Weir, Marting Jenco, and David Jacobsen. In 1999, Bachar collaborated with The Atlas Group (a non-profit cultural research foundation based in Lebanon) to produce 53 videotapes about his captivity. Tapes #17 and #31 are the only two tapes Bachar makes available outside of Lebanon. In the tapes, Bachar addresses the cultural, textual, and sexual aspects of his detention with the Americans.
G.I. JOE PSAs (6 min, video, 2003) by Eric Fensler. G.I. Joe Public Service Announcements remixed by Eric Fensler. Once warning young fans of the dangers of talking to strangers, downed electrical lines, and using drugs and alcohol, Gung Ho, Doc, Roadblock, Snow Job, and many others are now part of a bizarre and sometimes humorous world. Pork Chop Sandwiches!
MEET ME IN WICHITA (6 min, video, 2007) by Martha Colburn is a scathing indictment of America’s arguably dangerously naïve foreign-policy. The film is a play between fact, fiction, politics, fantasy, terror and morality. Using paint-on glass animation and cutout paper puppets, this film features Osama Bin Laden (embodying several characters from the Wizard of Oz) and Dorothy engaged in a battle between the dark forces (and faces) of Evil.
HIT ON THE HEAD WITH A 1000 ANVILS (1 min, video, 2001) by Gabriel Fowler. A montage of short clips from Warner Brothers’ cartoons at the precise moment when a character is struck, shot, smacked, or exploded in front of the viewer. What unfolds is an endless barrage of unresolved cartoon violence.
AN ARMY OF DREAMERS, NOT AN ALTERNATIVE (4:22 min, video, 2007) by NYC Ya Basta. We are people with ordinary hearts who cannot bear the grief of war. We have watched this nightmare casually kill and maim in Iraq and Afghanistan, seen it take thousands of lives in New Orleans, heard it shoot fifty times in Queens. We have wept with the dead, we have pleaded for the living, and we cry out now in a voice both ours and not our own: Enough, Enough, Ya Basta! We want those who profit from a 500-year nightmare to wake up with us. We want to walk together, fully awake–in a dream we have tasted around the table and in the streets. We want those who once dreamed with us to wake up again, to taste again. We want the technicians of violence to throw their wrenches into the gears they have maintained. We want them to know, and for once not ignore, the real cost of blood money. If they knew they had murdered, if they knew they had killed, they would have to act. We will act; we will sound the alarm; we will wear orange. On March 19th, facing five years of war, we will execute our first public maneuvers in the face of the police. We will take the Charging Bull, as it were, by the horns. We will march to and take the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, where instead of stocks, they once sold people as slaves. We will be absolutely nonviolent, because in our dream the dignity of even a single person is as sacred as the dignity of all. As new worlds must emerge from old wounds, so we will emerge, filled with hope, and sound the alarm to awake, awake.