PROGRAM EXPIRED Dec. 8-15, 2021

Watch the Q&A!

Decontamination is a collection of works reflecting universal, but mostly unarticulated angst. We go virtual and optimize our time, our emotions, and our relations; these artists explore fragments of metamodern uneasiness. You can offer up endless data to improve our doppelgängers. An uncanny place, a tragic paradox of getting lost in a glass labyrinth. We want a rational, adjustable, and transformable environment, so we rather decontaminate the unpredictable, we sterilize the unexpected. Life is disinfected, the risks are safer to handle, but the unforeseen side effects of this ongoing transformation are getting stronger and stronger. Our sterilized world is silent and alienating.


Insurrection…, Pierre Villemin (France, 2020) 9:30 mins
Roaming, Florine Mougel (Austria, 2020) 6:04 mins
Scary Places/Shapes & Sizes, Pamela Falkenberg & Jack Cochran (US, 2020) 5:59 mins
Panspermia, Benna G. Maris (Earth (planet), 2017) 3:44 mins *silent
my favorite software is being here, Alison Nguyen (US, 2021) 19:47 mins

Curated by PD Director Zoltan Huber

Join us for closing zoom Q&A Wed., Dec. 15, 7 pm EST with artist in attendance, moderated by Jillian Vasko, PhD Candidate, Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto.

Jillian Vasko is an experimental filmmaker and PhD candidate at the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded dissertation research reconceptualizes contemporary notions of ‘value’ and ‘labor’ as they structure prevailing accounts of the relation between bodies, media, and capital through a study of ASMR and online pornography. She is devoted to anti-colonial, intersectional, and creative methodologies.

Image Credit: Roaming, Florine Mougel (Austria, 2020).

Decontamination Artist Q&A

DECONTAMINATION by PD Director Zoltan Huber

In Pierre Villemin’s film, the wonderfully shot natural and urban images stand in unsettling contrast with the spoken arguments of acute hopelessness, isolation, and global disorientation. Insurrection… offers us different angles to reflect on our adrift present and highlights some of the most urgent issues we are facing as a metamodern society. The tense rhythm, the repetitive narration, and the dystopian overtones invite us to think carefully about the possible future of humanity on the edge of a universal breakdown. Insurrection… is not nihilistic however, all these issues could be seen as arising possibilities for fundamental changes. 

Florine Mougel’s Roaming is a surrealistic take on the contradictions of inhabiting a place. Although the verb “inhabit” indicates the act of settlement or occupancy, to live in a place is also an endless wandering, a search for suitable settings, and new viewpoints. Mougel’s deeply sensual and atmospheric images capture the existential dread and the uncanny search of the inhabitable and examine the possibilities of finding a stable spot in our chaotic world. The associative collages invite us to roam through different spaces, from home into the virtual void and beyond.

Scary Places/Shapes & Sizes takes us on a ride through generic highways, altering the everyday reality of suburban infrastructure, offering new viewpoints, and provoking questions about the man-made landscapes. Pamela Falkenberg & Jack Cochran combine beautiful, yet haunting images of freeways, traffic patterns, and constructions with text and music. Cochran’s erasure poem, “Scary Places” (extracted from the nonfiction book “The Geography of Nowhere” by James Howard Kunstler) is an anxious critique of postmodern capitalism and the American car culture in particular. Regin Petersen’s 2011 new music composition, “Shapes and Sizes” (performed by the Ensemble Kwartludium) adds another sensual layer to the unsettling sprawl of concrete and steel around humanity. Using a camera with a modified sensor for infrared photography, the film contrasts the shapes and sizes of infrastructure, highlighting the alienating quality of contemporary suburban habitat.  

Panspermia also explores the fundamental sterility of fabricated man-made items. In this meditative work, Benna G. Maris reflects on the superfluous mass production of the capitalist system and mirrors the harsh consequences of consumerism. Colorful objects floating through the cold and mute, yet grandiose outer space. Once wanted and desired, now useless waste, these disused products are now pathetic mementos of a synthetic world: sterile spores, endlessly drifting in nowhere. An absurd and unsettling vision of the ever-increasing acquisition of disposable goods.

Alison Nguyen invites us into the private space of Andra8, a computer-generated woman in my favorite software is being here. Voiced by and based on the artist’s physicality, Andra8 is a simulacral subaltern created by an algorithm and raised by the Internet in isolation in a virtual void. From the apartment where she has been ‘placed’ Andra8 works as a digital laborer, surviving off the data from her various ‘freemium’ jobs as a virtual assistant, a data janitor, a life coach, an aspiring influencer, and content creator. The domestic space from which she is constantly surveilled and monitored looks like the inoffensive love child of the results of a ‘Mid-century modern’ Pinterest search, a mental health hospital, and a perpetually sunny L.A. Airbnb. In other words: A kind of antiseptic neoliberal purgatory. Andra8 can be considered an offspring of the gig economy; thus, her situation might feel familiar. Yet, the film explores these uneasy issues with delicate humor and amazing visuals, raising complex questions through Andra8.


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