Virtual Filmfest via Brakhage Symposium — Saturday

This past weekend I attended parts of the 5th annual Stan Brakhage Symposium, “focusing on the exploration of moving art, past, present, and future.” Sponsored by the University of Colorado, the Symposium featured film programs compiled by two noted film/video curators. On Saturday, Steve Seid from UC-Berkeley presented “A Cavalcade of Eccentricity” — a series of manic/delirious/antic/ludic works completed over the past twenty years. Seid writes:

The settings for these performances brim with objects and surfaces that acquire uncanny meaning as the artists move about in frantic exhortation. These are not performances linked to the seventies when artists demanded great attentiveness to the minutiae of the everyday. Rather, here, the artist’s presence is just the starting point for an artful journey of sly incantation, physical verve, and pop criticality. [These artists] unravel the mysteries around us as they themselves unravel.

I caught only part of the program — to be frank, I’m not sure I could have tolerated any more. Seen one after another on a big screen with big sound, these films induced in me a state approaching nausea. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing… If you’d like a taste, here are some of the films and filmmakers presented in Saturday’s show.

Shana Moulton has created a series of videos where ordinary domestic situations turn surreal. She features herself as the main character in these works, several of which were presented at the Symposium. I saw a piece entitled Whispering Pines 6, presented here for your pleasure.

I saw two videos produced by Halflifers, the collective name for the filmmaking duo Torsten Z. Burns and Anthony Discenza. The first one, Afterlifers: Extend Dead, explored one of my favorite alternate realities — zombiedom. One of my favorite parts was when these two guys discussed on-camera the possibility that zombie is a kind of space that one can enter and leave. Everything that enters zombie space becomes zombified — people, cats, telephones. As the camera switched from one to the other of  these two suited theorists, suddenly one of them has turned zombie. The putrescent face and hands, the ragged dirty clothes, the bloody mouth, even the desk at which he sat and everything on it — the whole scene had entered zombie space. The camera shifts back to the other guy, still looking alive, then back to the zombified guy, who has just as suddenly been revitalized, brought back from the undead. One of these theorists also proposed that we think of zombies in a glass-half-full way, as “un-alive” rather than “undead.” Hey, maybe it makes them feel better. I could find no link to the movie, but here’s Halflifers’ website.

Here’s one you might like better than I did: Undercover by Brian Bress.

Then there’s Family Tyranny (Modeling and Molding) a disturbing little film from Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy.

The last movie I saw on Saturday was A Family Finds Entertainment, a 42-minute weirdfest from Ryan Trecantin. When curator Steve Seid talked about the time he asked Trecantin whether he’d been influenced by John Waters, several members of the audience anticipated Trecantin’s reply: “Who’s John Waters?” Here’s a Youtube of Part 1 of this movie; you can follow the links to the other 4 parts if you like. I found myself enjoying this film more and more the longer it went on.

Oh by the way, during a break in the Saturday program I chatted briefly with Boulder poet and former Ecliptics interviewee Tim Gritsevskiy, who was also in attendance.

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