Part of Fall 2006
News from Home: Sense and Nonsense is a meditation on the news and how it fosters the most powerful and confusing of anxious feelings. Instead of whipping you into a righteous frenzy of fear and outrage, the videos in tonight’s programme take a step back and scrutinize the official story – deconstructing, distorting and distilling the news media’s sensationalism with a barrage of tactics from rapid-fire collage to absurd surrealism to clear-headed testimonials.
We begin with Afraid So, a staggering new short by Jay Rosenblatt that perfectly captures our seemingly omnipresent state of post-millennial angst and impending doom. Also included will be Metastasis and Revolutionary Sketch, two rarely seen examples of the underground Soviet “parallel cinema” of the eighties by the Aleynikov brothers (featured in a special series at the 2006 International Film Festival Rotterdam organized by Moscow’s Cinefantom). Metastasis is a chaotic, jarring found-footage barrage of the stark propaganda images – Soviet political and Western cultural – that assaulted Russians from their TVs behind the iron curtain, a mish-mash of everything from Minnie Mouse to military maneuvers, beauty contests to bombardments. Revolutionary Sketch meanwhile juxtaposes Communist rhetoric with anarchic street theatre reminiscent of Jack Smith. The Floating World by the Dutch artist Daan Spruijt skewers the round-the-clock crisis-porn of CNN, constructing a creepy, indecipherable narrative staged by clay blobs, all framed by the channel’s unwavering logo and ridiculous headlines.
Appropriately enough, the centerpiece of this programme is an extraordinary, pared-down documentary interview with an elderly Black couple who give a first-person account of one of the most gripping and painful events of 2005: Hurricane Katrina and its disastrous aftermath. Marjoleine Boonstra’s Robert, Mary and Katrina frames the couple together as they speak directly to us – the camera never deviating – focusing entirely on these two fascinating people and their story. There is no rush, no fireworks and no horrifying footage to detract from their bearing witness, the video’s rudimentary style implicitly slowing down the emotional roller-coaster that was the media’s coverage of the state of emergency, where one was never permitted reflection or true debate but only shocks and squawks.
Afraid So, Jay Rosenblatt, USA, 2006, video, 3:00
The Floating World, Daan Spruijt, The Netherlands, 2005, video, 9:00
Revolutionary Sketch, Igor and Gleb Aleynikov, USSR, 1987, video, 7:00
Robert, Mary and Katrina, Marjoleine Boostra, The Netherlands, 2006, video, 42:00