Part of Fall 2008 - A Lower World
Los Angeles-based duo Harry Dodge (born 1966) and Stanya Kahn (born 1968) have created a number of performance-based video works over the past few years that revitalize the genre through their richly nuanced sense of character, their queer comedy and their oddly poignant sensitivity to pathological behaviour. With the gender-ambiguous Dodge behind the camera, Kahn has crafted a brilliantly bizarre persona in Lois, a struggling artist who sells her bad sculpture out of the trunk of her car (in Winner) and later describes her misadventures with E and anal douching at a weird kink party out in the wilderness (in Let the Good Times Roll (2004, 16 min, USA)). Despite the absurd humour in the work, there is a “lot of melancholy going around” as Lois asserts, with characters who’ve been to hell and back – the walking wounded who talk to themselves that you typically cross the street to avoid. In their acclaimed Can’t Swallow It, Can’t Spit It Out (2006, 26 min, USA), we find Kahn as an unbalanced woman with blood on her face sporting a Viking helmet and lurking outside a hospital. Think of her as a damaged So-Cal flâneuse, perhaps a descendant of Colin Campbell’s Woman from Malibu, processing trauma through verbose anecdotes. A stylistic departure, their new tape All Together Now (2008, 27 min, USA) sees Kahn – as a thick-browed woodswoman – joined by a number of figures with bags on their heads in a creepy commune out in the sticks where everyone’s violent and ritualized actions suggests that they have regressed to a savage, pre-lingual, even animal state.
Winner 2002, 15 min. video
Can’t Swallow It, Can’t Spit It Out 2006, 26 min. video
Whacker 2005, 7 min. video
Let the Good Times Roll 2004, 16 min. video
All Together Now 2008, 27 min. video