The second Video Zone Biennial., Tel
[a.k.a videozone 2 or Video Zone 2]
The following are a few of the screening
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Embracing Exile -
Jewish Themes in Experimental Film and Video 1956-2003
Part 1: Family
Exile is a state of homelessness-enforced or self-imposed.
It may also reflect the sense of not belonging to a particular
lineage, place, or belief. Jews in particular have a profound
experience with displacement. Events in 20th century history-above
all the Holocaust and the misery of Jewish life as dhimmi
under Moslem rule-reinforce the Diaspora experience as dark,
bitter, and interminable. Despite arguments that a full Jewish
life can only be experienced living in Eretz Yisrael, Jewish
culture has flourished in Europe, the Middle East, and the
Americas since the Babylonian Exile. A longing for "home"
has generated immense creativity in scholarship, literature,
and art. Examples include the Talmud, medieval poetry of the
Golden Age of Spain, Hasidism in Eastern Europe, and early
20th century American Yiddish Theater.
Today, in a post-Zionist world, exilic tendencies remain in
the art and culture of Diaspora Jews and are demonstrated
by the work of the fourteen experimental film and video makers
featuring in this program. Using a diverse range of formats
(Super-8, 16mm, 35mm, analog and digital video), these artists
explore themes such as family bonds, relationships to the
urban landscape, and metaphysical issues such as ontology
Films and videos in Part One are organized around the theme
of family-a home base from which to flee and return. Families
offer a generous yerusha (inheritance) of love, neurosis,
pain, memory, and myth. Sandi DuBowski and Susan Mogul reinvent
gender roles and go so far as to reject circumscribed family
traditions. Gail Mentlik, Chana Pollack, Abraham Ravett, and
Jessica Shokrian offer loving yet somber tributes to their
elders. From a decidedly different sensibility, Neil Goldberg
and Ilene Segalove depict their families with a healthy dose
Part Two of the program is divided into two sections: The
first-"Urban Eden"-is a collection of works that
examine the pleasure and pain of city life. Despite economic
challenges, artists and other "rootless cosmopolitans"
embrace the city's energy, creativity, and diversity. Neil
Goldberg's Hallelujah Anyway No. 2 and Shalom Gorewitz's Levinas
in Yorkville demonstrate the resilience of urbanites living
and working under stressful conditions. Inspired by another
exiled Jewish philosopher, Walter Benjamin, Jem Cohen strolls
the city streets, capturing images and stories with his camera.
The metropolis is a refuge for exiles, immigrants, and other
outsiders who use the urban landscape as a laboratory to test
new ideas, identities, and lifestyles.
The second section - "Mysteries and Abstractions"
- delves into illumination and obscurity, dreams and ghosts,
mourning and loss. Filmmakers Wallace Berman, Benny Nemerofsky
Ramsay, and Phil Solomon share an interest in both metaphysical
and material aspects of light and darkness. According to Lurianic
kabbalah, the universe was born through the process of tzimtzum-contraction
and concealment. Whether responding to theological displacement
or existential alienation, these artists-like the kabbalists-choose
to withdraw from society in order to create.
We, their audience, gather as a community to experience their
Sergio Edelstein and Doron Solomons
Nine different ways of looking at the usually quite grim reality
and history in a funny, cynical, morbid, parodical, documentary
and at times rather hallucinatory manner. But it turns out
that reality itself always tends to be more hallucinatory
than we might expect. (Doron Solomons)
Video as Reflection:
Video Art from Japan
Reflect: 1 Throw back. 2 show an image of. 3 correspond in
appearance or effect to. 4-a show or bring. 4-b bring discredit
on. 5-a mediate on. 5-b consider, remind oneself. (Oxford
Reflection has several meanings. re- means return or repetition,
as well as opposition. Flect is flex, meaning bend or transform.
Therefore, reflection means swirling in repetition back to
the original state with transformation. On the other hand,
it also means being opposite to and objectifying its repetition
from a distance, within its whirlpool, and considering it,
or toward it.
By the way, what is video? Video is electronic imaging, a
representation of electronic information. Electronic information
exists and appears as an image only when it is represented.
Primarily, this representation is not an aesthetic one, but
because in present society it fulfills a role much like currency
or commodities, it is not limited to images on TV or computers.
Hence, in the widest meaning, our world is electronic representation.
The different modes of representation of electronic information
encompass our lifestyle completely, from the movement of a
needle on a voltage gauge to the mechanical binary language
of computer programming, cityscapes, and even our minds.
Through the abundance and repetitiveness of electronic information
representation, it has become one with the actual form of
representation. This fixation between electronic representation
and the mode of representation ties in with a certain ideological
structure. This is the first meaning of the Video as Reflection
Our world, as an electronic representation, swirls at the
speed, penetrability and flexibility of an electron. A new
consciousness is distilled, where the form and meaning serve
to broaden our evaluation of the world. Escaping into fantasy
cannot attain this focal point; reality must be grasped fundamentally
to view "the present in history". Self-reflection
is thus generated in our media society.
Consequently, video art is positioned as the political contributor
making the global situation of media society relative in history,
and provoking criticism against it, from inside it. This is
the second meaning of this compilation, and is the raison
d'etre of video as art.
Video art as self-reflection has a history of some four decades.
In Japan it began in the late 1960s. Since then, led by some
utterly perceptive figures, Japanese video art has evolved
to integrate theory, criticism, creativity and political practice,
incorporating criticism, inquisitiveness, and the innovation
of an aesthetic language. It is a philosophy, a social movement
and an artistic form of creativity.
This flow of Japanese video art is different from today's
popular Japanese consumerist images, including hyper futuristic
animations, gang movies, pornographic fantasies, or lost identities
of a young generation. Rumination on the media society instigated
by video art is undoubtedly the essential part of Japanese
visual art in the electronic age. Far from the superficiality
of media culture overwhelmed by information capitalism, critical
reflection underlies media culture, linking the present to
history. While trendy images are reformed and consumed immediately,
high-quality video art is soon to be recognized internationally
as the contemporary form of art. Moreover, the young generation
of artists further expands the theory, creativity and activity
founded on these grounds.
Video as Reflection begins by presenting works by founding
pioneer Japanese video artists. In the works that follow,
younger generation video artists continue to question electronic
image representation, but their interest now lies on its usage
and effect, and not its form (what the video does, not what
the video is). The explored hypothesis is that by means of
reflection, video art can serve as an essential tool of criticism,
towards media globalism.
Artangel: Douglas Gordon
Artangel has pioneered a new way of collaborating with artists
and engaging audiences in an ambitious series of highly successful
commissions since the early 1990s. We've created a reputation
for producing work that people really want to see and for
which they often travel miles to experience.
This commitment to the production of powerful new ideas by
exceptional artists has been at the forefront of changing
attitudes and growing expectations amongst both artists and
By producing the best art, in the best possible conditions,
Artangel has become part of the cultural debate, both in the
UK and abroad. A pathfinder in the process of achieving a
deeper understanding of the world. Which is what art always
offers those willing to take up the challenge.
Beyond the white walls of the gallery, the black box of the
theatre or the darkened interior of the cinema, there are
other forms of expression where the relationship between artist
and place is of primary importance. This is a relationship
which Artangel actively explores in events where context and
content are often indistinguishable. An artist's response
to the qualities and conditions of a particular place is central
to the development of a project. And finding the right place
is an integral part of the commissioning process we undertake.
The videos collected in Paesaggio italiano, represent the
cutting edge of Italian production of the past three years.
In their structure and material, messages and styles they
differ completely from each other. What they have in common
is a strong feeling for narration, often used to tell something
about our country, to render an atmosphere, to depict characters
or places that are somehow deeply Italian. Some of their stories
have a cinema-like pathos (Galegati, di Martino, Spadoni),
or a magical, mysterious flavour, which seems to slow down
and suspend the natural flow of things (Rossi, Benassi, Senatore),
whereas others have the imperfection and truth of a documentary
style (Mangano), or the humour and unpredictability of peasant
tale (Favaretto). Aside from the aesthetic of a low-fi video,
these artists face up narration respectful of the moving image
grammar, without concealing in any way the specific features
of the means they use. Working on the image immediacy is not
enough. They often look at cinema, not only exploiting the
appeal of a 16 or even 35 mm film (Galegati, di Martino, Spadoni,
Rossi), but also referring directly, reverently or subversively,
to specific cultural and stylistic passages of its history.
The epic of Sergio Leone's westerns turn is feminized by Carola
Spadoni, Sicily is portrayed through the neo-realistic eye
of Domenico Mangano, echoes of Pasolini can be found in Betta
Benassi's work, and a mix of Antonioni's silent urban deserts
and Jarmush's odd dialogues in R? di Martino's black and white
Wavering between tradition and innovation, the videos in the
program reconfigure Italianess with vitality and sensibility,
daring to express the romance of a familiar landscape, which
is, first and foremost, a human landscape.
No Cold Feelings:
Films and Videos from Scandinavia
These two programs consist of films and video works, predominately
from Sweden, but also from its neighboring countries: Norway,
Finland and Denmark. The films offer us a place for longing,
a place for imagination. They give us a pleasurable time,
but hopefully also a room for reflection and consideration.
Many people still believe that Sweden is at the forefront
of equality between women and men. That is no longer the case.
Violence is creeping upon us, it is attacking us. The statistics
of rapes perpetrated on a week like the last one is frightening.
And yet... why should we complain. Others are much worse off.
We are doing pretty ok, after all. But that is no reason to
give up our struggle, or to feel small and disillusioned.
Several films in this selection address issues concerning
violence, feminism, social criticism, homosexuality... but
in a warm and humorous way. Perhaps with a song. These films
do not wish to create more violence. They want to bring hope
and joy. Love. A few laughs along the way. And respect for
When I was asked to curate two sections of Scandinavian film
for this festival, I immediately came up with loads of ideas.
At the same time, I thought that I would be able to stick
to a theme. It didn't work out that way. As a matter of fact,
I don't really like themes at all. They seldom work. The programs
are diverse, and might seem a bit all over the place, but
I'd like to think that their wide scope is also is their strength.
At a certain point, some things regarding my choice of films
became evident. Many of the films I've chosen use sound in
a special way. Their soundscapes are abstract and experimental.
Sound is important to me, as is music. A couple of the films
are what I would like to call investigative films - performances,
of sorts, for the camera. Several of the participating filmmakers
are also performance artists. The films have been of a great
inspiration to me during the two months I've spent working
on the selection of films, and I hope you will get the same
feeling watching them.
Films from AV-arkki's festival View04 - Festival of Finnish
Media Art View04, organized by AV-arkki, Helsinki, www.av-arkki.fi:
Pirjetta Brander, Guinea Pig; Borkur Jonsson, Postalm - Postcard
to Kristjan; Seppo Renvall, Woody.
Translated by Jenny Tunedal
Take me to Portugal,
Take me to Spain
Catarina Campino and David Barrow
Take me to Spain, Take me to Portugal is
a selection of artists who work with video in Spain and Portugal,
two geographically close countries, although historically
living quite separately for centuries. Recently that inevitable
connection, that undeniable cultural affinity, has been seen
in an art world where Portuguese artists work in Spain (as
is the case of artist and curator Catarina Campino) and where
Spanish critics and curators look towards Portugal and take
great interest in its artistic production (as is the case
of David Barro). Thus the curators of Take me to Portugal,
Take me to Spain decided to take this collaboration one step
further, choosing jointly the artists in this program and
defining together the criteria for its selection. Contrary
to 9 Portuguese Artists, 18 Video Works (a 126'3" sample
by Miguel Wandschneider and Catarina Campino), in which a
certain generation of artists in their thirties were favored,
the current selection replaced the age and thematic restrictions
with general contemporary feeling.
As to the screening format in a film theater, it is understood
by these curators as one designed for exposure and debate
rather than exhibition, since some of the works require specific
spaces when installed. To resolve the problem of this "inappropriate
format," between projections of the different compilations,
the curators will introduce the concept behind each work or
group of works presented.
In addition, the curators, as well as the artists, wish to
emphasize that the geographical location of the biennial was
taken unto account and that some of the works were made specifically
for VideoZone taking on the political context surrounding
The Zionist Ventriloquist
A collection of video hits
The Zionist Ventriloquist brings together
recent Israeli video-works based on pop, rock and other musical
tunes. All of the featured works employ practices of doubled-voices,
such as drag, karaoke, puppet-mastering, mash-up and dubbing.
These are performances that relish the pleasures of singing
and dancing, even as they bind them with parody and deception,
self-contradiction and simulation. This collection, then,
is both a compilation of artworks, a lopsided sequence of
music clips, and an ongoing reflection on the voice as a hybrid.
The works featured stem from the energy, sexuality and speed
of video clips no less than from the aspirations of gallery-geared
art. In general, they shun dogmatic political stances and
morose morality, favoring humor. Yet, the entire compilation
speaks plenty by what it avoids: none of the works address
directly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the occupation
or the blatant discrimination against Israeli-Palestinian
citizens. It is as if these artists, for whom a multiplicity
of voices is pertinent, posit the Palestinian as the other
they cannot possibly dub.
The set ends not only with the Israeli anthem, but also with
the Star Spangled Banner. Its inclusion suggests the USA is
as dominant in contemporary Israeli culture and politics as
The Zionist Ventriloquist presents works by renown Israeli
artists along with works by artists who are still students,
as well as a couple of pieces culled from televised programs.
Many of the works receive their premiere in this compilation.
Translation into English by Roee Rosen
About Art and Other Anomalies
Sergio Edelstein and Doron Solomons
The mother (art) and the father (cinema) were never forgotten
by the (step) son - video art. Here, in a sometimes hysterically
hilarious compilation, the son settles the score with art
and cinema in different variations through adaptation, borrowing,
citation, editing and a variety of effects. (Doron Solomons)