current program -

Fall 2007 - Allegories of the Real

Our everyday lives, whether grounded in nature or technology, are inscribed as cycles of life and death within the natural world.  Our sense of personal identity, understanding of others and potential for development are based on our opportunities and life experiences as well as observations of many things including the world of animals and nature, other social communities, media culture and fantastic journeys into imagined realities.  Many of these aspects of reality simultaneously combine mythic drama with everyday life. The artists in Allegories of the Real explore ordinary and extreme cases of individual experiences in terms of madness, transgression and coping with loss.  Through personal diaries, dark humor, irony and reflective monologues, these works affirm what it means to be human at the threshold of life, transformation and mortality.
Patrick Clancy

September 14

Artcirq, Natar Ungalaaq (Nunavut), Guillaume Saladin (Canada), 2001, 51 min., video shown on DVD

Artcirq documents a project initiated by Guillaume Saladin, a circus student from Montreal, that took place in Igloolik, a remote Inuit settlement off the northwest Coast of Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic.  An amateur theatrical production was staged with Inuit teenagers, which combined local stories, and performance techniques such as throat singing, with circus skills, juggling, acrobatics and rock music. The collaboration was initiated in response to a series of teenage suicides in Igloolik, with the idea that working together on a performance for the community would be an empowering experience as well as a way to reinterpret indigenous traditions and mythologies. – Project Arts Centre

Mother on Trial: Gathering Voices in the Theater of Attraction, Kristine Diekman (USA), 2006, 12 min., video

“This experimental video combines popular media culture and the rules of Bunraku puppet movement to represent and examine the public perception of the institution of motherhood and infanticide in the United States. Character animations speak borrowed and altered dialogues from Internet chat rooms related to infanticide. These chat spaces are ‘theaters of attraction,’ sites for fantasies of retribution and punishment, and the ‘puppets’ or animations become mechanisms for moral introspection and social determination. Notions of identity and agency become destabilized through the embodied contradictions between the real and the represented body in public electronic space. These figurative simulations employ attraction and illusion to suspend the viewer between belief and disbelief, desire and repulsion. They also allow the viewer to indulge in what is forbidden and unspeakable; ghosts, monsters, death, loss of boundaries, and magic.” – Kristine Diekman

The Present, Robert Frank (USA/ Switzerland), 1996, 24 min., video

Simple objects, photographs, and events prompt Frank to self-conscious rumination. From his homes in New York and Nova Scotia and on visits to friends, the artist contemplates his relationships, the anniversary of his daughter's death, his son's mental illness, and his work. –The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


True Story, Robert Frank (USA/ Switzerland), 2004, 26 min. video

Speaking in voiceover, the artist narrates scenes shot in his homes in New York and Nova Scotia. His rambling commentary returns to familiar themes of memory and the loss of friends and family members. Brief excerpts from earlier films are shown, along with Frank's photographs, the art of his wife, June Leaf, and extraordinarily detailed letters written by his son, Pablo (1951- 1994). Alternately poignant, reflective, self-mocking and angry, this candid autobiography reveals Frank's late career preoccupations. –The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


September 21

Elegy, Joe Gibbons (USA), 1991, 11 min., video

It's the first day of autumn, and Gibbons can already smell death in the air. Leading us and his dog Woody on a walk through a cemetery, Gibbons voices his obsessive thoughts of death and destruction. Waxing weirdly philosophical, Gibbons satirically tries to impress the concept of mortality on his dog. – Video Data Bank


suicide, Shelly Silver (USA), 2003, 70 min., video

suicide is a fictional filmmaker's crazed ruminations on travel, family history, death and sex as she traverses a world of malls, airports and train stations, chronicling her fiercely hopeful search for a reason to continue living.  Shot to resemble a personal diary film, and starring the director herself as the imaginary filmmaker heroine, suicide is edgy, dark and funny; an audacious act of flirting with the revelatory autobiographical. It is a wild ride, as the heroine slips ever further into the shadow areas between the real and the imagined.... – Video Data Bank


September 28

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, The Brothers Quay (UK), 2005, 99 min. 35mm film shown on video

On the eve of her wedding, the beautiful opera singer Malvina is mysteriously killed and abducted by a malevolent Dr. Droz. Felisberto, an innocent piano tuner, is summoned to Droz’s secluded villa to service his strange musical automatons. Little by little Felisberto learns of the doctor’s plans to stage a “diabolical opera” and of Malvina’s fate. He secretly conspires to rescue her, only to become trapped himself in the web of Droz’s perverse universe…  – Zeitgeist Film