5 slide projectors in total
3 static & 2 revolving carousels
Loop tape on slowed boom box
--“I Say A Little Prayer For You” by Dionne Warwick plays eerily at slowed tempo. It play continuously in the room.
80 slides revolving
--In entering the room, the viewer passes across the slide projections and the images change gender as one is momentarily blocked. With the revolving carousels, there is always a different set of juxtaposed images—the piece is constantly moving, shape-shifting and changing.
--Static image projected on the south wall of a man in the 1950’s and a butch woman in the 1990’s. This image appears continuous, against the same background & is up during the duration of the installation.
– Sculpture of two white starched shirts on hangers, one men’s adult, one male child’s, identical both with belts hanging out of the cuffs. The sculpture is backlit by the slide projector on the north side of the room.
“Da” is an old-fashioned Irish nickname meaning father or papa.
da, da, a baby’s utterance, short for dad
DA, short for Duck’s Ass, after the 1950’s men’s hairstyle.
DA for double action trigger performs two functions of cocking
& releasing the hammer or trigger.
D.A. for District Attorney
DA begins with word play on the various meanings of its title. This is an installation steeped in nostalgia for a lost time as evidenced by the 1970’s coloration of the photographic stills projected on the walls of the space. Da is a formidable father figure, a man of the 1950’s. In the metaphorical realm and in the atmosphere of the installation space, the mind has the power to associate and this “association” carries real power. Like Pavolov’s classic conditioning, two concepts or stimuli become associated when the experience of one leads to the effects of another. The sight of a belt or smell of its leather can bring on the fear-like symptoms experienced prior to a beating. Association is also the state of being connected together as in memory or imagination. An association can also be a way of formally grouping people or creating social order, like the grouping of people into two “sexes” (i.e. two separated and gender divided categories). How a man acts or looks, or how a woman acts or looks, might not be such a simple construct unless reiterated by specific social norms and policed by a society’s members for signs of any deviation from these “accepted” categories. An association is also an affinity group or the act of consorting with or joining a group. One’s association with one’s family is an affiliation, a relation resulting from interaction or dependence.
DA is organized around these concepts. It is an investigation into childhood abuse & the way that violence is passed down from one generation to the next. It examines gender as a category by creating moments of “crossing”. Two images that have been layered together become unrecognizable as one gender or the other, until one of the pairing is blocked from view. The images crisscross “appropriate” gender boundaries until those categories are exploded, through the play of multiple images upon one another. The installation is in this way, a model for the way that represention creates meaning through the play and visual power of images. It also offers an alternative representation of what a father / daughter relationship can look like if either party choses to cross the gender divide through dress, gesture or somantic behavior.
VIDEO AND IMAGE GALLERY
Death Valley evokes not so much the mythos of the Cowboy itself, but temporal and geographical imaginary of cinema, as it has been articulated in the first enduringly archetypal, and purely cinematic genre, the Western.
The installation is organized around a set of binaries or tensions that propels cinema as a medium: between action and location, the celebration of ephemeral instant and the suspension of time. In the counterpoint of the large video projections that flank the main gallery space and the drawings themselves, the epic timelessness of landscape brushes up against the temporal instant of the film-frame, moments excised with surgical precision from the chaos of action. The quintessentially (fictive) empty space of the West -- the terra nullius that grounded imaginings of infinite expansion -- juxtaposed with the "West" that is the site of strenuous human action, the proving ground of heroic masculinity, the battle, melding, and mastery of man over beast/nature.
More unexpected is the show's revelation of the ways in which, refracted in / produced through the cinematic lens, the West becomes precisely that which it is not: the arid desert, revealed in slow aerial pan, resembles the sea floor -- primordial, untouched, uninhabitable, pre-social; the gestural topoi of the "cowboy" body -- supposed shorthand for brute corporeal force, pure efficiency -- suggest balletic grace and fluidity; the evocation of noise and tumult is nullified by the eerie, echoey silence of film, image, and the gallery space (like the bottom of a swimming pool).
The installation, in close dialogue with the work itself, speaks also to cinema as a medium: an image coaxed momentarily out of the darkness, conjured through the projection of light, it is always already ghostly, haunted by its own immateriality. Just as the cinematic Western enables spectators an intimate, if fragile / fleeting relation with unimaginable vastness -- a source of their powerful nostalgic aura, the drawings lit by closely focused spots create a kind of sublime intimacy with the specter of our own cowboy culture, and ultimately, our own mortality.
The Range drawing series is a central element of the Death Valley installation.
VIDEO AND IMAGE GALLERY.
Created as a site-specific installation, Trick Saddle, sets a Spaghetti Western underwater to critique the absurdity of gender roles— “masculinity” staged as a synchronized underwater cowboy ballet. Originally shot in digital video, the film was later transferred to 35mm so that it could be screened as a drive-in movie. It debuted at the dilapidated Starlite Drive-In, located in State College, Pennsylvania, where the film was accompanied by 20 female performers, dancing live on the hoods of cars under the big screen. Trick Saddle was later developed into a full-length theatrical piece so that we could bring the drive-in indoors to New York City.
Inspired by the fictional totalitarian state depicted in Terry Gilliam’s movie “Brazil”, CAPTURE investigates the use of media, and in particular, broadcast news & its medium, digital video, as a political tool in modern day America. Bush’s “War on Terrorism,” eerily forecast in the 1985 film, has created a society ready to forfeit its freedom in exchange for the promise of “safety”. Prepared to give unlimited powers to its military, we live on the false promise of protection offered by fetterless secret police & pervasive surveillance. This state of fear in its populace, manipulated as a means of political control by the threat of terrorism on a daily basis, is reflected in the propaganda that functions both as our news and our art.
Created as a single channel video, CAPTURE is then mediated via its presentation both in the form of a large-scale projection viewed through a fresnel lens which turns everything upside down or as a fictional piece of functional high art where sculpture dresses up one’s necessary surveillance technology. In both cases, video images of cinematic violence loop upon themselves like advertisements.
In its simplest form, CAPTURE frames the creation of “representation” as a premeditated activity, not the “eye in sky” broadcast of live TV or reality television. Each video “capture” is isolated as a dramatic moment in time- a solitary figure left as a fragment decomposing against itself, or tearing through the backdrop of the film. Acted upon with a digital effect, each film frame exists in an ever changing universe of visual manipulation-- the still image frozen in time, is allowed to overlay upon moving cinematic moments in an ever churning river of more images.
VIDEO AND IMAGE GALLERY
A pun, or word play, on the old slang, drawling pronunciation of the classic children’s game “Cowboys & Indians,” COWBOYS & ENGINES asks the question what would a cowboy be without his “monstrous” other? What’s a Cowboy to do, now that all the Indians have gone? Can a binary survive as a solo performer?
All masculine energy and steam machine, the piece places the last living specimen of a cowboy in a diorama-like a large-scale glass display in the Natural History Museum. Shot in a site-specific safety glass enclosure, the cowboy, a uniquely American cinematic invention, takes his last breath and dances in gestured, slow motion style of the locomotion experiments of Eadweard Muybridge-- father of motion pictures and what was to become the celloid film strip.
Played by dancer / choreographer, Clove Galilee, our cowboy isn’t actually what he’s portrays himself to be. The cowboy thing has become a drag and just when he doesn’t want to play anymore, he finds himself trapped in a corner. Inspired by the stylized movements in old Westerns, specifically the old silent era, serialized cowboy flicks of Buck Jones & Tom Mix, COWBOYS & ENGINES explores the Western as a form of modern dance. A stylized convention of the modern motion picture, “the cowboy” dances against the fake backdrop of a scenic western landscape—the fence and the burlap tent both infused with the projected spirit of our cinematic past. Our projected heros flicker and fall silent.
Featuring two early video works, GOODBYE PARTY, an appropriation and manipulation of Gary Cooper as the classic strong silent hero in “High Noon”, & WESTWARD, a radical reinterpretation of the vintage silent Buck Jones Western “Indian Attack,” the installation courses with movement and sound. A bluesy mashup fills the space with a contradiction of sound-- Albert Ayler’s “Goin’ Home” meets Burt Bacharach’s “No Goin’ Home Anymore”, (a song from the soundtrack of George Roy Hill’s modern cowboy epic, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”).
COWBOYS & ENGINES courses with this movement of image and sound and live performance. The cowboy under glass is observed dancing in front of the videos as they play on the walls and wash over her body. She attempts to replicate the actual movements of the Hollywood idol; struggles to copy the movements exactly, working under the weight of memory—mimicry as master of the art of deception. Under foot, a model train runs in endless circles upon the ground. This is familiar territory, one that will be retread until it is worn through. Put your foot down.