Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14, 09

SHAPESHIFTER a night of film and video curated by Michelle Handelman

Works that investigate revolutions of exchange both political and sexual, transfiguration,
transmutation and radical distortions of psychological entropy. Featuring work by:
Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin, Tara Mateik, Jillian Mcdonald, Bjorn Melhus, Shannon
Plumb, Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Jolley, Abbey Williams.

Das Zauberglas (The Magic Glass)
Bjorn Melhus, 6 min, 1991
A short meeting of a shaving man and his female reflection in the magic glass/the TV monitor. A
tale about coming and going and the desire of an incomprehensible virtual image. Based on the
German version of the 1950's Western romance, "Broken Arrow".

Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Jolley, 10 min, 16mm trans to video, 2002
A house burns from the inside while its occupants focus on the emotional issues of their lives.
Burn is a stunning evocation of those unspoken, unconfronted somethings, those secrets; at first
niggling at the edges, then - provoked by a word or a gesture - suddenly searing through
everything and everyone in its path. Belinda McKeon, The Irish Times.

Bad girl! Bad girl!
Abbey Williams, 30 sec (excerpt), video, 2008
Williams makes near motionless performances in a series of video portraits in which she
superimposes herself over a still image, insistently trying and failing and trying to equal the figure
in the frame, dissolving herself over art historical images and pop culture iconography. Williams
attempts to assume literal visual semblance in an effort to become their figurative equivalent.

Abbey Williams, 7min, video, 2007
Williams visually dissects old mummy films by digitally removing the monster entirely to leave
only a levitating female victim. Intercut with recreated imagery where the artist inserts herself
into the narrative as the female with frenetic editing and staccato sound these altered and
reconstructed images are woven (along with scientific footage of reproduction) to create an
abstract narrative of sexual and progeny anxiety.

Horror makeup
Jillian McDonald, 7 min, video, 2006
I transform myself from normal to zombie in the midst of a daily subway commute. Instead of
improving my features, like the woman who steadily applies makeup en route to work or play, I
become gruesome. This work takes cues from the legion of women who perform beauty rituals
on the subway in a curious private zone where they seem unaware of anything outside their
activity, and the rising cult of zombies in popular culture, where zombie lore flourish.

Endless Love
Tara Mateik, 4:30 min, video, 2005
A music video screen test for the Tin Man as Lionel Richie for the Diana Ross duet, Endless
Love, as part of, Man Behind the Curtain--a reproduction of the musical fantasy The Wizard of
Oz. In search of a transgender Diana Ross impersonator to resurrect Dorothy.

Paper Collection
Shannon Plumb, 19 min, video, 2007
Portraying herself as model, photographer, magazine editor and fashionista, Plumb delves into
concepts of beauty, the fashion industry and the nature of superficiality. Viewed through Plumb's
self-conscious lens of humor and naiveté, this film chronicles both the cultural significance and
the accompanying absurdity that prevails in a world where surface and appearance are of the
utmost importance.

La Mulatto
Abbey Williams, 30 sec (excerpt), video, 2007
Williams superimposes an image of herself bound with rope onto the bust of a slave; La
Négresse (1872) by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. We watch as the artist struggles to “hold the pose”
and as a result a striking new form is created. “ La Mulatto conflates an image of a 19th century
terra-cotta bust with the artist’s self-portrait, employing a post-black sense of multi-racial
identity while examining the ever present question of cultural identification.

Don’t let me down
Abbey Williams, 09:00 min, video, 2009
. Williams set out on this body of work in anticipation of the birth of her first child and completed the work prior to her expected due date. Then the unthinkable happened, her son died in labor and was delivered stillborn. In many ways all of the works now take on the dual function of living as a testament to the most devastating kind of loss imaginable and the nine months the artist spent contemplating her expectant new life as a mother.

Man Probe Experiments
Darrin Martin and Torsten Zenas Burns, 6 min, video, 2004
Improvisational medicine is practiced via etheric communication with organic & inorganic prop
exchange, the life-students are reinvigorated as both energy conduit and exploratory probe.

Tara Mateik, 4:00 min, video, 2004
Suspend your disbelief and salute the constant state of preadolescent gender in Never Never
Land where the principal boy, Peter, is played by a woman. In 1903 Nina Boucicault played
Peter Pan in the original London production. Reviewer Denis Mackail enthusiastically noted that, others will be more boyish, or more principal-boyish, or gayer and prettier, or sinister and
inhuman, or more ingeniously and painstakingly elfin, but Miss Boucicault was the Peter of all
Peters…she was unearthly but she was real. She obtruded neither sex nor sexlessness…In the
spirit of Boucicault PYT throws social codes of masculinity into crisis.

Robert Appleton and Brandon Olson have performed together in several productions including
the 2004 Chris Tanner show Ravaged by Romance at Lamama (NYC). Appleton’s work has been
described as, “Drawing inspiration from the shroud that falls as twilight begins, permitting one to transform oneself, reinventing personas. He deals with issues of decadence, loss of control, and nonconformity.” Brandon Olson is an actor and performance artist whose work has been
dazzling downtown denizens for a decade in New York since moving here from Seattle, WA.
He's collaborated on many projects with many artists including Tabboo!, Karen Finley, Lavinia
Co-op, the Frances Ethel Gumm Memorial Players, Tony Ousler, and Patricia Field.

Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin began their collaborations in the video and sculpture
programs at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University where they both received their
B.F.A.s. They have based their works on their research into diverse speculative fictions and
reimagined educational practices. Their collaborations have exhibited at venues including The
New York Video Festival, Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, Pacific Film Archive, The Madrid Museum of Contemporary Art, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, and the
Paris/Berlin International. and

Tara Mateik is an artist and educator living in New York City. In his videos and performances he
typecasts himself as theoretical and cultural transvestites from pop music, competitive sport,
and weird science. In 2002 he founded The Society of Biological Insurgents (SBI), an embryonic
cell organization that wages strategic operations to overthrow institutions of compulsory gender.
Mateik’s work has been exhibited at venues that include The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,
Roebling Hall and Reena Spaulings in New York, the Black Maria Film Festival and LACE in Los

Jillian Mcdonald is originally from Winnipeg, Canada, Jillian Mcdonald makes video and performances in Brooklyn and elsewhere. Awards include a NYFA Video Fellowship, Canada Council for the Arts Grants, and residencies at LMCC's Workspace, Headlands Center for the Arts (California), and The Western Front (Vancouver). She was commissioned to create artwork for Lilith Performance Studio in Sweden, The Whitney Artport, and Nuit Blanche in Toronto. Recent solo shows were at Rosenthal Gallery in San Francisco, Moti Hasson in New York, Jack the Pelican Presents in Brooklyn, YYZ in Toronto, and Sala Narañja in Spain.

Bjørn Melhus is a German video artist whose work touches our time’s most current themes: the
loss of personal identity in a world of technical images and the horror vision of computer
generated perfect and sexless humans. Despite these serious issues, Bjorn Melhus performs with
humor and irony, triggering laughter by dealing in a playful way with the world of images and
sounds created by commercial media. Being trained in the production techniques of film and
television, all roles are played by Melhus himself, creating a trivial and at the same time horrific
world of twins and doubles.

Shannon Plumb's cinematic studies of life's various roles and characters explore the complexities embedded in the ordinary and extraordinary. From the humble persona of a new mother to iconic figures from the silver screen, Plumb portrays these characters with zest and humor. Inspired by the curious spirit of slapstick comedy and the physical humor of silent film legends such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Her work has screened internationally including Sara Meltzer Gallery (NYC), and The Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Jolley have collaborated on several films including Burn, Sugar and The Drowning Room. Their work has shown internationally including the Berlin Biennial, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Roebling Hall, (NYC), PS1 Contemporary Art Center, (NYC) and The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles). In 2003 Reynold Reynolds was awarded the John Simone Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and in 2004 he was invited to The American Academy in Berlin with a studio at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien for one year. In 2010 he will have a eight month residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany). and

Abbey Williams' work has been exhibited at Tate Britain (London), PS1/MOMA (new York), The
Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), The Wadsworth Antheum Museum (Hartford) and The Studio
Museum of Harlem (New York). The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Michelle Handelman makes confrontational works that explore the sublime in it’s various forms
of excess and nothingness. Her recent project DORIAN, premiered at Participant, Inc., NYC and
will be featured in Virtuoso Illusion, curated by Michael Rush at The MIT List Center for Visual Art (winter 2010). Her work has shown at Pompidou Centre, Paris; ICA, London; Performa 05;
American Film Institute, SF MOMA; Jack the Pelican, NY and Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. She directed the feature documentary BloodSisters and collaborated for several years with Monte Cazazza, pioneer of the Industrial music scene. Her writing appears in Inappropriate Behaviour (Serpents Tail, London), Apocalypse Culture (Feral House Press, Los Angeles) and Herotica 3 edited by Susie Bright (Plume Books, SF). She lives in New York and is an assistant professor in Film/video dept at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston.