Sherry Millner - Ernest Larsen.
Cinematic Ammunition: The Visual Impact of Global Unrest
Dates: January 31st, February 7th and 14th, 2015 (3 Saturdays in a roll)
Space: the loft of the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki, Warehouse B1, Thessaloniki port (State Museum of Contemporary Art)
Participation fee for the whole workshop: 10 euros (5 euros if you attend one session separately)
From January 31st to February 14th, during the timetable of the CACT at the loft of Warehouse B1, there will be a parallel presentation of video works by Sherry Millner - Ernest Larsen, delineating their oeuvre chronologically as well as ideologically.
The series titled Cinematic Ammunition: The Visual Impact of Global Unrest is structured as a screening & discussion workshop with invited speakers to explore the immediate sparks and the deep-seated underlying causes of the historically unprecedented global demands in recent years for direct and unmediated participation in democratic processes at all levels of common existence, from the bottom up. Each of the screening programs focuses on the visual dynamics of a specific dimension of this world-wide outpouring of dissatisfaction (not to say disgust) with politics as usual.
These events are intended to show how audiovisual representations can and do make a uniquely forceful and thoughtful contribution to a common understanding. The thematic arc, as currently conceived (there may be some changes as the individual programs develop, depending on the expected participation of individual speakers) is as follows:
- the exploration of the complex relations between so-called marginal populations (those peoples we once were likely to designate as the ‘downtrodden’) and the centers of power, at the points when the ‘marginal’ suddenly or not so suddenly refuses to accept their ascribed status….often taking to the streets to protest.
- the status of the non-citizen, the refugee, the migrant….bereft of civil or human rights, in the context of the Border.
- the question of agency, of how and when ordinary people assume or take on the necessity to act at unpredictable moments of crisis or out of sheer necessity. How do people dramatize their plight in order to gain even momentary attention in the apparently almost chaotic whirl of events, in a heavily mediatized world?
- the question of the maintenance of social order, the function of the police, which in conditions of unrest all too readily become an occupying force against the expressed need and desire for change, as embodied by the movement of people into the streets. In all nations the state monopolizes the exercise of legal force (violence) and yet for change (at whatever level) to occur the people must be able to break free of customary rules of order -thus coming up directly against the police. What has film and video made of this contradiction?
- the fascinating tension between political groupings, always necessary for the articulation of potential change and the equally imperative need for free, rather than coerced, association and activity, perhaps the crux of human rights.
- history and memory in the context of previous moments of sudden upheaval. The is the question of the usable past - how we are all embedded in history, or otherwise condemned to repeat the same errors.
Garbage (Newsreel, U.S.,1968, 10 min.)
A radical film collective documents a collective action in support of a New York City sanitation workers strike. The anarchist group “Up Against the Wall, Motherfuckers” carry garbage from the Lower East Side of Manhattan uptown to the then pristine-white citadel of high culture Lincoln Center and dump it on the marble steps--astonishing the police and opera patrons. Simultaneously, on the disjunctive soundtrack,the group critiques the action, enabling a rare experience of theory and practice as a single unified process.
Ausfegen (JurgenBoch/Joseph Beuys, Germany, 1972, 26 min.)
Following a May Day demonstration along Karl Marx Strasse in Berlin, the artist/teacher Joseph Beuys and two of his graduate students sweep up the dirt left in their wake. They wield red-bristled brooms,in solidarity at once with the demonstrators, the guest workers and urban ecology. This performance of attentive work (in the capital of the state-communist German Democratic Republic) sets in motion a rigorously performative argument for democratizing art. But then the collected trash becomes…..art
The Land Belongs to Those Who Work It (Chiapas Media Project, Mexico, 2005, 15 min_ Collectively made, this film details a tense confrontation between masked Zapatistas farming unused land and federal and state officials intent on eco-tourist development. The elaborate politeness of both sides of this struggle never masks what is at stake.
Under Underground (Viera Cakanyova, Czech Republic, 2006, 18 min.) A deadpan exploration of the relationship between underground and “overground.” In the context of everyday life in the post-communist Czech Republic. Dozens of underground civil defense structures built during the communist regime are now all but abandoned in and near Prague. The film follows one new caretaker, a biology student. Three other people testify in and on the underground: an architect of many fallout shelters, a filmmaker who never made a film, a singer who never consented to record her music. Like Melville’s Bartleby, they all “would prefer not to.”
THE FOOD CHAIN (Ariella Azoulay, Israel/USA, 2002, 17 min)
An inventive investigation of the question: Is there hunger in Palestine? leads to a disquieting conclusion: the Israeli military and government are positively nourished by the spread of humanitarian speech and ideas, which directly supports their continued aggression against Palestine. In the end the film’s title takes on a steely irony.
HEZREALLAH (Yann Beauvais, France, 2006, 1 min)
A silent blast of flashing text, words in both English and French, at the point of self-destruction, hovering above what resembles the shimmery digital map visible in a war plane’s targeting screen. This intense 48 second film, bearing angry traces of Lettrist/ Situationist intransigence, was made during the 2006 Lebanon War.
Iranian Women’s Liberation Movement, Year Zero (Iranian Women & Women of the Political & Psychoanalytical Group, Iran/France, 1979, 12:30 min)
An astonishing document of a women’s militant demonstration in the streets of Teheran, in the midst of the Khomeini revolution, upending the customary perception that Iranian women are selfless and passive adherents of traditional culture. Produced as a collaboration among Iranian and French feminists, it includes an appearance by U.S. feminist Kate Millett.
What Farocki Taught (Jill Godmilow, U.S, 1997, 30 min.). A remake of Haroun Farocki’s film, Inextinguishable Fire (1969), a somberly Brechtian examination, using reenactments, about the the development of Napalm B by Dow Chemical during the Vietnam War—but in color and in English, rather than in black and white and in German. Godmilow’s passionately critical introduction and epilogue clarifies conventional documentary’s “pornography of the real” as opposed to Farocki’s exceptional technique, while renewing the still pertinent question of U.S. corporate war crimes.
Requiem for M (Kiri Dalena, Philippines, 2010, 8 min.)
On the morning of November 23, 2009 in the Maguindanao province, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, 58 people were massacred while on the way to filing a certificate of mayoral candidacy. Among those murdered by a gang that supported the incumbent mayor were at least 34 journalists—making it the deadliest such event in the history of journalism. Capturing scenes from the funerals, the film plays upon the yearning to turn back time to before the tragedy occurred—and upon the inimitable plasticity of cinema’s technical capacity to reverse time.
Le Glas: The Death Knell (Rene Vautier, France/Algeria, 1964, 5min.)
Made on the invitation of the Zimbabwe African Party for Unity, about three revolutionaries to be hanged by Prime Minister Ian Smith of Rhodesia. With a voiceover by Djibril Diop Mambety, this becomes a visual poem.
The Route (Chen Chieh-Jen, Taiwan, 2006, 14 min.)
In stifling heat, Taiwanese dock workers break into a dock and formally, with choreographed gestures, enact their part in a worldwide dockers protest forbidden by the Taiwanese government, in order (as one of their picket signs says) to “Reclaim the Future” of globalized workers solidarity.
Queen Mother Moore Speech at Greenhaven Prison (People’s Communication Network, U.S. 1973, 17 min.)
A live cable broadcast on community visiting day inside a federal prison at which 75-year-old African American civil rights activist Queen Mother Moore gives a speech to the young male prisoners and their families, nearly all of whom are black. “You can’t steal from the white man because everything he has is stolen from you.”
Inventory (Zelimir Zilnik, Germany, 1972, 10 min.) Each of the many residents of a tenement building in Munich descends the stairs, briefly introduces him- or herself, speaking directly to the camera , and continues down the stairs….All but one of the speakers are guest workers, a simple accumulation of one plus one plus one with ever-increasing weight.
The Right of Passage (Oliver Ressler, Zanny Begg Austria/Australia, 2013, 19 min.) Shot against the dark skyline of Barcelona, proposing that freedom of movement must be conceived as a right universally granted, the film mixes playful animation and eloquent interviews with Antonio Negri, Ariella Azoulay, and Sandro Mezzadro, and with people without papers.
Professor Sherry Millner (College of Staten Island, CUNY) was the initial Chair of the Media Culture Department. Millner's projects have been described as radical interrogations of the dynamics of genre and communicative systems, while overturning remaining distinctions between public and private. Her many films and videos have been exhibited at film/video festivals throughout the U.S. Europe, Australia, and Asia, at major museum exhibitions, including two Whitney Biennials, and is distributed by Video Databank. Her photomontages and photo-text pieces have been published in many journals including Heresies, The Independent, Social Text, Public Culture. Beginning in 2006, she initiated a series of curatorial projects in film and video including State of Emergency (first iterated as a public video projection), Border-Crossers andTrouble-Makers for the 2008 Oberhausen Film Festival, Reclaim the Future at the 2009 Subversive Film Festival in Zagreb, and a program for the Visible Evidence Conference in 2011. She is currently co-producing Disruptive Film & Video: Everyday Resistance to Power, a new history of radical/ experimental short film and video, as a four-DVD set to be distributed by Facets MultiMedia. Her collaborative photo-text series, Notes from Europe, initially available on the Social Text website, was published in book form as Capital’s Greek Cage by Autonomedia in 2013. Her video Rock the Cradle (2013) has been exhibited in Barcelona, in Thessaloniki, Greece, Pori, Finland, Belgrade, Serbia, and Chicago,Illinois (at the It’s the Political Economy, Stupid exhibitions), and in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland (withit the Economy exhibitions). Excerpts of her ongoing photomontage series No Ventilator Includedwere published in Printed Project (Dublin, Ireland). Her work is featured in such books as The M Word, Feminist Art and the Maternal; Space,Site, and Intervention: Issues in Installation and Site-Specific Art; in Digital Desires; and in Re-Framings: New Feminist Photography. In addition to festival awards for her films and videos, she has been the recipient of residencies, and grants from NYFA, NYSCA, the Jerome Foundation, Long Beach Museum, the Ucross Foundation, Can Serrat, Babayan Culture House, and Light Works, among others.
In addition to many film and video collaborations with Sherry Millner, Ernest Larsen writes fiction and media criticism. His criticism has been published in The Nation, Art in America, The Village Voice, Art Journal, The Independent, Exposure, Transition, The American Quarterly, Jump Cut, and Arena, along with essays in a number of anthologies. He wrote a book-length study of the film The Usual Suspectswhich was published in the British Film Institute Modern Classics series. His novel, Not a Through Street, was nominated for an Edgar. Also a scriptwriter and contributing producer for several PBS series, he has received grants, residencies, and awards from the Jerome Foundation, Paul Robeson Foundation, MacDowell Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, Gunk Foundation, and the Blumenthal Foundation. His collaborative video projects have been exhibited and won awards at major festivals throughout the world (London, Sydney, Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Dallas, Los Angeles, etc.) including two Whitney Biennials. With Sherry Millner, he has co-curated film/video series for the Oberhausen Film Festival and the Subversive Film Festival in Zagreb. He co-produced the film projections series State of Emergency and in 2013 co-curated a film series for the Flaherty Foundation, at Anthology Film Archives in New York, Global Revolt.