LE NEGATION DU TRAVAIL SPECULATIF
Coming soon to a Paris, France near you...
TAKE NO SCORN TO WEAR THE HORN
(A more complete documentation will soon be posted. But for now, here is some raw footage from the event.)
April 4, 2014 at the MCA Chicago, I collaborated on the piece "Take No Scorn to Wear the Horn" with Pullman Morris & Sword, a folk dance troupe from the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago, and contemporary circus artist Brian P. Dailey. My role in this was primarily as organizer and framer. I had first encountered the Morris group at a folk fest in Hyde Park in February. My initial impression of "wha?" quickly transformed into "woah!" When I participated in their workshop, I was struck by how the dance seemed to be teaching itself to me via a fundamental folk formalism. Also there was something in the attitudes of the dancers around me that seemed to be altering my sense of time and manifesting an immediate community in which I was suddenly a part with a meaningful role to play. On my way home from this experience I was contacted by the MCA to participate in their First Fridays public events. Operating on intuition I proposed a project with the Morris dancers I had just met. The general idea of the evening at the MCA was artists riffing on the theme of Apocalypse. Instantly, I thought that there was something in the Morris dancing that contained physical culture of a type that had informed various Anarchist and Marxist political thinking I had been reading recently that was generally about the end of the current political and economic system. What is present in folk culture is both a haunting of the past as well as an intimation that if our system would collapse or change drastically, there are already methods of living together, long practiced, that would allow us in the imagined afterscape to face a new world as "friendly ghosts". After initially conceiving of a much more complicated performance, I settled on two interventions in the usual performance and workshop structure of the dancers' events. First, I created about 60 paintings on handkerchiefs similar to the ones used as a standard part of the costuming of a Morris dance. On these I wrote what I came to think of as "pedestrian footnotes" on the dance, the political ideas I thought to be relatable to the form, and increasingly, as I made many hankies, my own feelings about myself and my experience of working with and getting to know the lovely troupe from Pullman. Second, I invited Brian P. Dailey, a contemporary circus artist, to join the performance as an improviser with both my hankies and the sticks used in the folk form. His performance was meant to be a subtle and pleasurable example of how I think the folk dance and its community shows us that thrust into a novel situation, an anxiety-ridden present, an unknown future suddenly at hand, we could already know what to do. After all, the folk is good and will have to be trusted.
"Artist Andy Roche collaborates with Pullman Morris & Sword and contemporary circus artist Brian P. Dailey in this participatory performance. Learn "Morris dancing," a folk dance while enjoying Dailey's improvised archaic circus antics. Roche presents a series of political paintings in the form of handkerchiefs used during the Morris dance, which contain references to contemporary political thought about the end of the current world system. When the apocalypse comes to "lift the veil", you will be ready with handkerchief in hand."
TUBAL FREAKS SNEEK-A-PEEK
"Turtles have short legs, not for the walking,
Turtles have short legs, not for the walking,
But we can find it out, but we can find it out,
But we can find it out, but we can find it out.
Want to have a cigarette, not for the choking,
Want to have a cigarette, just king-sized"
-- Damo Suzuki
Fantasy is the only morsel available to the leashed dog.
Music: Black Vatican-- Owen Gardner, Andy Roche
NATURE'S BET | WASHED UP IN HEAVEN
Nature’s Bet | Washed Up in Heaven
David Price, Andy Roche
4:22, HD, 2013 UK, US
David: I arrived in Chicago during the summer with thoughts of Le Corbusier's large-scale drawings made during lectures in mind, thinking that Andy and I might re-stage them somehow as an organizing principle for a new work. On our first evening together we became sidetracked by playing a lot of Yahtzee, and the five dice of that game became another organizing principle. We traveled to a remote lakeshore beach in northern Michigan, where our own large-scale drawings were made in the sand, and where our thoughts turned to Bas Jan Ader and the pirate ships that rob I.
Andy: Washed Up on the dessert shore, two men collapse into the dunes of a Heaven ruled by the holy-roller "Y-H-T-Z" (His full name disguised in a tetragrammaton so as to never call down the demon Hasbro.) Everyone knows Bas Jan Ader died at sea, conceptually and corporeally, but has anyone yet fully decoded Bob Marley's mystic poem "Redemption Song" which hides the name of the Real Killer? In Nature's Bet the House always wins with a Full House. Toss each die one at a time... this is your last roll!
BRAIN FRAME 10: ANDY ROCHE READS "A CARTOON?", CHICAGO, IL January 18, 2013
Lyra Hill invited me to take part in Brain Frame, a live comics reading performance night. A description from the BF site: "Andy Roche’s single page avant-comic A Cartoon? brought a signature mix of hilarity and poignancy, prank calls and dog attacks, personal confession and stand up comedy."
DAVID PRICE: INTO THE FIELD @ SE8 GALLERY, LONDON, UK | October 8 - December 1, 2012
My collaboration with London artist David Price continued with his inclusion of a piece of mine in his exhibition David Price: Into the Field at SE8 Gallery. The show included several nights of programed events two of which featured our shared film projects. On the second of these we screened a new video that was constructed around our correspondence titled "Shadow Self Soul Murder | Sweet Dreams of Johanna | Chandell/Harry | Data/Lore". Here's a basic description of the show from SE8:
Into the Field is a solo exhibition by David Price that includes the works of others, namely his fellow-artists G.Leddington and Andy Roche, and the writers Koen Sels and Anna Tebelius.
His work focuses on the gaps between things: between an artwork and its representation in another medium, and in fiction. The translation from one idiom to another also signals an exploration of different contexts in which to situate the artwork. His aim is not to make arresting or beautiful images through prints, sculptures or film; instead the work situates unremarkable things in a new light: a smudge left by a stick of liquorice, a sentence written in coffee grains held in cast glass, or perhaps a Super-8 film panning across a range of screen prints. An eponymous publication accompanies the exhibition, as does a series of events featuring its participants and others still.
DON'T FORGET TO BOOGIE: NEW WORK BY ANDY ROCHE @ ROOTS & CULTURE CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER, CHICAGO, IL | July 7- August 4, 2012
Fun in the Oven
46"x21", Digital print from medium format slide film, airbrush, 2012
Is that you, Kos-Mitch?
46"x21", Digital print from medium format slide film, airbrush, 2012
45"x54", airbrush on paper, 2012
But... Do you like
68”x 21”, Digital print from medium format slide film and airbrush, 2012
My Father, who is Art
47"x21", digital duratrans installed in fluorescent ceiling fixture, 2012
AR sings BS for Gv
5hr, book on tape, edition 30, 2012
Every Generation Has Appeared in Its Mouth
20"x30", Digital print from medium format slide film, 2012
They Are Alive and Move Autonomously
20"x30", Digital print from medium format slide film, 2012
The Flat, Divine Things of the Household
20"x30", Digital print from medium format slide film, 2012
The Tooth that Bites, that Really Cuts, Bites Through, and Liberates
20"x30", Digital print from medium format slide film, 2012
Property that Flows Towards Me
20"x30", Digital print from medium format slide film, 2012
VISITING ARTISTS TO DC233 CINEMA & ART @ DePAUL UNIVERSITY: WERNER HERZOG, LYRA HILL
During the Winter 2012 quarter at DePaul University I taught a section of DC233 Cinema & Art. I haven't included anything from my teaching work on my site before, but some events happened this term that should be shared. Just a few weeks into the course, the DePaul CDM hosted Werner Herzog. I and my students had the privilege of his presence as a visiting artist for one class meeting. This session was recorded and I repost it here. Surely, this isn't the definitive Herzog interview/talk, but it was ours! Some of the highlights that I hadn't heard him speak much about before this talk are his meeting P. Adams Sitney in Germany in the early 60's, and a direct address about his work's relationship to New Age sensibilities in his collaboration with Popol Vuh.
Just a few weeks later our class hosted Lyra Hill, a Chicago filmmaker and comics artist. She and I have worked together quite a bit in the last year. I thought it was important for my students to encounter an artist just years older than themselves that works in 16mm. Hill didn't disappoint and I'm happy to report that several students have kept talking about her in class, in papers, and as reference for creative work for the rest of the term.
"DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE DO?" PERFORMANCE AT CENTER FOR EXPERIMENTAL LECTURES
From The Center for Experimental Lectures' press release:
"Anthony Elms, Edie Fake and Andy Roche Alderman Exhibitions—350 N. Ogden Ave, 4th fl, Chicago, IL. Saturday December 17, 2011 7pm The Center for Experimental Lectures is pleased to announce its inaugural event with presentations by Anthony Elms, Edie Fake, and Andy Roche. Hosted by Alderman Exhibitions, the program will feature three new lecture/performances by these creative producers followed by an open discussion.
In Andy Roche’s new lecture Do You Feel Like We Do, he will speak about verbal abstraction as both empathic and agonistic. With references to his own work, Peter Frampton, and use of an effects table, his talk aims to explain expression that uses “less than an idea”.
The Center for Experimental Lectures is a platform for artists, theorists, and other cultural producers to push the boundaries of the public lecture format. The Center for Experimental Lectures curates and archives regular lecture events with hopes of providing occasion to think about not only the content of each unique lecture but also the possibilities of the lecture as a creative platform. The physical presence of the lecturer is a rich site for embodied and performed meaning making, and the Center for Experimental Lectures encourages the creation of new forms of experience-based information dissemination. The Center is directed by R. E. H. Gordon. Please visit www.experimentallectures.org or email email@example.com for more information."
The text of my lecture can be read here. What follows are the text slides from the talk that are not legible in the video documentation.
On May 7, 2011 Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center in Chicago hosted a screening night of my work from the last few years. Patrick Friel wrote this blurb about the show on Cine-File.info:
"Riffin'" is an appropriate term for this program of film and video work by local artist Andy Roche, certainly for the three longest works showing. Roche touches on religion, politics, biography, travel, music, storytelling, performance, sex, avant-garde film tropes, documentary form, and more. The style veers towards pastiche, but this work isn't the standard cold, over-determined post-modernism of the 1980s: Rather, it's part of a scrubbier, more loosely-organized strain that might include Shana Moulton, Kent Lambert, and Jesse McLean. Roche has said that he's interested more in anecdotes than narratives and BORN TO LIVE LIFE in particular bears this out. An experimental-documentary-narrative hybrid (and we're never sure exactly what part is what) that is ostensibly a portrait film, it jumps from scene to scene, voice-over to sync sound, old home-movies (we think) to new footage, dramatic "recreations" to faux-public access-style interview. Along the way the subjects include Machu Picchu, masturbation, DIE HARD and ROBOCOP, weight loss, and spirituality. On the surface, Roche's all-over-the-map approach and grungy, almost anti-aesthetic look might seem simply unfocused and too rambling. But the effect is cumulative, building to an ultimately deeper exploration of loneliness, despair, and life on the fringe. In ANNOUNCING THE MYSTERIES, Roche films a hippie-like figure in an open wilderness area as he grunts into a microphone. The image is superimposed, two views of the man one on the other (doubling his importance), with this familiar experimental device accentuating the lyricism of the handheld camerawork and the soft sunlight on the landscape. The intent seems to be an ironic commentary on the myth of the avant-garde filmmaker as part magus, part man of nature (i.e.: Stan Brakhage, Bruce Baillie); mythopoeia as egomania.
ANDY ROCHE: FUN MONEY/FANTASY TALK
For the 2010 NEXT Fair in Chicago, Three Walls asked me contribute some new work for their booth. The work was presented under the named Andy Roche: Fun Money/Fantasy Talk. The first piece, Fun Money, shown above, was a comprised of two 4' x 2' black light lightboxes. Simultaneously a print piece and a performance piece, Fun Money explained itself in a programmatic text included as part of one of the prints. It read as follows:
For at least the last two years I’ve attended the Chicago art fairs with some money on my mind. Like most artists here, I make virtually no money off art. My band, which isn’t popular, makes more money than I do at this business. The first day I ever attended the fair I became angry. There’s so much stuff, so little of it any good, but here I was on the sidelines. No money to spend, no money to make. So as they say, I wrote a check that reality couldn’t cash. The rest of that first weekend was spent stretching $5,000 pretty thin. The next year, my conditions improved and I imagined I had $10,000. It was great fun.
Last year I submitted a proposal to Three Walls Gallery here in Chicago for one of their solo shows. The piece was supposed to be a dub/space rock lecture series. Didn’t get it, but I was offered to do something like my proposal in a booth at the fair. The piece was nearly untranslatable to this new venue, but we went on with the idea of doing a show.
This year I’m in the fair, but my conditions are perhaps no better. As a guest of a non-profit I’m one of the few people here expressly for the purpose of not making money. I’m here to lose money, not spend it. We all know the difference. However, we are free in our minds, if we want to be. So this year I’ll dream harder, bigger than ever, and risk it all. All of my after tax income from 2009 is now liquid (but imaginary, so it’s only sloshing around my brain). I’ll spend it all here. It’s fun money after all.
Fantasy Talk, the second piece for Three Walls, was a series of five videos. The source material was taped artist talks from the gallery's archives. I submitted these tapes to a dub process. The result has equal potential for spaced-out observation and unwatchability. Essentially this set extended in both directions what had been the previous audience thresholds for the audience experience of an artist talk, when the audience member is no longer paying close attention.
BE HERE NOW
"...O Holy Family.
This is the seat of the practice. And as the children who are the fruit of the union appear, see them as divine avatars, holy beings who have come recently from our true HOME to teach. Nourish and feed them as they feed you. Listen for their tone, see their ray so as to help them fulfill their spiritual destiny, provide a matrix for their consciousness. Great care must be taken to guide this entity on this plane. Choose carefully the initial impressions which they will be registering as you would the food they eat. They are the hope and destiny of the universe. Respect and honor them. Guide them clearly. Keep them home and free of chaotic inputs. Let love burn in all the lamps. Through all of this, face and cope out the difficulties... "
Baba Ram Dass, from Remember, Be Here Now (1971)
What progressive possibilities are available to figurative art now? Three pieces by three artists here articulate three theatrical modes of the figurative. In each case, the figurative gesture is not to demonstrate a human form in a frame, but rather, to activate the exterior space containing the work. By effectively turning the space into a theater, and surrounding works into co-stars, these works' primary commitment emerges as a collaborative teaching function, facing their public selves toward the whole of the room. Instead of stepping back from the social encounter, each work steps forward, constituting an argumentative, cacophonous public space. BE HERE NOW is curated by Josh Mannis.
Rebecca Kolsrud lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received a B.S. in 2006 from New York University, and is a current MFA candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Anna Mayer lives and works in Los Angeles, where she got her MFA from CalArts in 2007. Moving between collectivity and introspection, Mayer attempts to establish an “outcantatory” practice that uses language, fire, and intention to propose relationships encouraging embodiment and the rejection of discreet, linear modes of reception. In 2010 Mayer had a solo exhibition at Sea and Space Explorations in Los Angeles. Group exhibitions include Night Gallery (CA), Cerritos College Art Gallery (CA), A.I.R. Gallery (NY), Karen Lovegrove (CA), and Klaus Von Nichtssagend (NY). Mayer recently performed the first of her *WORD THE WORD* series of guided listening sessions at the Experimental Mediation Center of Los Angeles.
Andy Roche earned a BFA from the University of Iowa and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. One strain of his work, as included in this show, pursues an aesthetics of radical witnessing informed by the politics and theology of Christian Anarchism. Roche also performs in the group Black Vatican, recording artists for Locust Music. www.andyroche.org
Exhibition at Elephant, an artist-run gallery in Glassel Park, Los Angeles.
Opening reception Friday, November 12, 2010 6pm - 9pm
3325 Division St. Los Angeles, CA 90065
BLACK VATICAN | OCEANIC FEELIN' LP AND VIDEOS
Black Vatican, my band with Owen Gardner, has a new LP coming out this Fall on Locust Music here in Chicago. I made a video for the title track, "Oceanic Feelin'", with Susannah Dotson. She performs in the video and made the costumes. We were thinking a lot about Charlemange Palestine around that time, and maybe some of his visual style comes through.
I made another video for the song "Worldless Phenomenon". This video is made entirely from scanned 35mm slides animated in AfterEffects. Due to the high bitrate for this video, it will play best if the video is allowed to load before viewing.
2001-2010 BARDIC VISIONS FROM BRITAIN AND THE AMERICAS | HANDS ACROSS THE WATER
In Spring 2010 my old friend David Price was in the U.S. doing research on his PHD, a really fascinating project partly about the fictive artists in Don Delillo novels. I suggested he swing by Chicago after he was done toiling away in a Texas library so that we could work together on a project for Saturday Cinema. This space, ran by Kat Parker-Monteleone and George Monteleone, runs new artist films on loop every Saturday in the window of their Chicago apartment. We decided to make a new film for every week. All we had to begin the project was a rekindled friendship and a vague notion that it would be cool to be as cool as Dieter Roth and Richard Hamilton. What follows is a bit of the blurb and video transfers of the films.
2001-2010: Bardic Visions from Britain and the Americas
Hands Across the Water
Andy Roche | David Price
Info:Roche/Price met at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in 2001. Their first collaboration is the 4 Super 8 films in this exhibition. Each is given a title by both artists. Most films are the result of deals, not collaborations. This is also true in these productions. The first, Double Denim/Serge De Nimes, inspired by Chris Isaak, pairs the Australian dancer Lou Hartman with a nocturnal survey of Mexican westernwear.
Two Balls/Deux Balles volleys between a table tennis match contested by New Zealand musician Kerry Tyrrell and Price and a decades long racquetball match contested by Hospital Strategic Planner Art Roche and psychiatrist Dr. Tom Boxleiter. The planner and doctor are reduced to graphic elements.
Double Dippin’ |MissouriàMississippi | M+M/A Wednesday in Heaven follows a race across Dubuque, Iowa held in May between Roche and Price. Sharing a single bicycle, each cyclist was required to dip a bike tire in the tradition of RAGBRAI, where cyclists begin with a rear dip in the Missouri and conclude with the front in the Mississippi. Roche was confined to the rear; Price the front.
David Price: Head to Head/Colour Dreams follows Roche’s inquiry in Price’s ideas about abstraction and color, or colour. Skeptical, Roche interviews Price and allows him to demonstrate, in a controlled single roll experiment, his method.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE I DO?
On 2.25.10 Laura Davis and I held a one-night show at Per Populus Gallery in Chicago. Laura proposed "Do You Feel Like I Do?" as a title for the show, and I immediately agreed on the name. The title is similar to "Do You Feel Like We Do?" the Peter Frampton song. For years I've wanted to do something that considered the structure of that song and others by Frampton from that period. The really simple thing that excites me about this material is the question/answer structure he used. Wondering how you feelin', he never really offers an answer in the lyrics, but something of an answer is in the extended talk box guitar solos at the end of his songs. In place of clear words or a recognizable emotion, he synthesizes his voice with the instrument and some portion of the sublime inarticulateness of a young person becomes present in the music. In this sense, there is something to be learned about the structure of abstraction and the way it works with emotion.
Glass Flag (Do You Feel?) is part of an ongoing series. I've written about it elsewhere on the page, but this piece differs from earlier entries in the Glass Flag series as the game of telephone I'd performed with footage has ended. The video was shot entirely at Per Populus, with the exception of the ghostly appearance of vintage Frampton shot through the flag. The object itself is quite battered now and catches more light than it lets through. The video was exhibited atop the glass table used as a prop in the performance.
The other piece I exhibited was a light box diptych, Rack Focus (Log Jam at the End of Time). I recently reread Lippard's Six Years and felt challenged to be more direct. This piece extends perception one step in each direction beyond our biological capability. The top image depicts an image one-step beyond the horizon line, at "infinity". Of course, I had no idea how such a thing could be shown, so I've shown a double infinity. The two photos in this box show infinity rooms that employ different optical illusions to achieve the effect. The lower box is the opposite end of perception. Instead of suggesting a pole that recedes back into the mind, into fantasy, the image depicts the view when one could perceive one's own bangs in perfect focus, the world beyond one's hair rendered as blank white light. Each box was 2'x4'.
All installation views photographed by Clare Britt.
Glass Flag is an ongoing video project that has included performance and installation in its various incarnations. The central image of this piece is the "glass flag" itself, a clear flag whapped in the foreground, fourth wall, of the image. A parallax is created when this changing surface overlays images of spaces combined in a sort of continuity edit. What has proven extraordinary to me is how durable this image is, how it is so often better than me. It affords a kind of plastic sublime to this project.
The first idea for the flag came about when I was considering anarchist politic's image problem, the black flag of alienation. A clear flag seems better for a politics of liberation and without hierarchy. Immediately, I thought of the optical possibility of such a flag. Imagine that cliche of americana, a proud bald eagle with a waving US flag superimposed across the image. A clear flag makes any such superimposition lighter, always. A flag that is nerver more than barely there.
I also thought of a section from Roubaud's The Loop where he describes the presentness of memories as "glass on glass". This continues my interest in how viewing or watching can be elevated as acts of witnessing. As Glass Flag has developed, this interest has some ways taken the form of conceptual superimpositions and dissolves. Versions and drafts of the piece submerge into layers. In good faith I've kept throwing more content at this structure. The flag is a sort of whisk in the image space that tears it apart in innumerable light gestures.
So far, Glass Flag has shown at the show Voices in Dubuque, IA and as part of Future Facing at Old Gold.
Future Facing was a one-night group exhibition with Aline Cautis and Josh Mannis at Old Gold in Chicago on 11.13.09. This was the first show in the gallery's new space in Logan Square. It was a thrill to work with these two great friends on the show. I exhibited a new version of my Glass Flag video with a section at the end shot in the Old Gold space. In the new part of the video, a television monitor displaying an earlier Glass Flag is suddenly replaced by a spread of beer and snacks resting on a clear plate and cloth. Two hands enter the frame and pull out the tablecloth in the style of the old magic trick. I suppose if one is to be self-critical, or perhaps to attempt an institutional critique within the apartment gallery scene so prevalent in Chicago, I think this art often has to face an indifferent or self-interested social milieu instead of an indifferent or hegemonic institution. What is for now the coda to Glass Flag is hopefully more a slight of hand than a slight on the place of its presentation. The trick was to actually be seen. There were two other pieces of mine in the show, a lightbox called Red Talk and a hair painting called Wall Do.
Here's a short review of the show.
Radical Witness is a sort of digest of three earlier, separate videos: Announcing the Mysteries, TETEDEMORT, and Black Iron Vatican II. These three films have had a rich life in gallery exhibitions and screenings. They were first presented together in the 2008 Gallery 400 show Andy Roche: Black Iron Vatican. Since then, I decided to compile them into a single video for some screenings, and so this new piece, Radical Witness, was made.
In the summer of 2008 Remi Lafitte's label Atelier Ciseaux released a small-run DVD of the three videos called Andy Roche: Radical Witness of Iowa. At the time Remi was operating out of Paris and had recently released the 7" Vrais Noms-True Names from the group Lucky Dragons, so I was surprised and honored when he contacted me about this work that I thought of as somewhat in the past, albeit the recent past. In the process of preparing the disc many days were spent relooking and rethinking this work. Although it is dangerous to attempt a new draft of a work after the fact, I think the Radical Witness video successfully distills the ideas of the Gallery 400 exhibition.
In July 2009 I went over to France for several shows and screenings arranged by Atelier Ciseaux related to release of the disc. Each of the shows was added to the larger european tour of Pocahaunted and Sun Araw. We played together in Paris, Angers, and Lyons. Each night began with a video screening from the disc and then I performed a short solo set of new music from my group Black Vatican. The whole thing was great fun and I hope to do it all again someday soon.
ANDY ROCHE: BLACK IRON VATICAN
an At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago project
From the Gallery 400 show text:
"With the exhibition Black Iron Vatican Andy Roche develops an
aesthetic examination of the Catholic left. In an installation of
multiple video works and posters, Roche draws a relationship
between the subjectivity expressed in the radical witnessing of
Catholic leftists and the reverie of pop culture devotees holed up
behind bedroom doors. Featured elements of this, Roche’s first
solo exhibition, include a recitation of the rosary as a howling dub
performance, images of nuclear warheads played like marimbas,
the arrests that follow the annual protest trespass at Fort Ben-
ning, Georgia, and scenes of ecstatic collective protest.
The central piece, Black Iron Vatican, a 16 minute long silent
video, shifts through allusion and documentary toward evocative
results. Opening with a scene of discussion, possibly religious
testifying, the action quickly segues into found footage of the
Hennessey sisters, famous siblings and Franciscan nuns from
Dubuque, Iowa, long active in radical social activism. In 2001,
Dorothy, at the time 88, and Gwen, at the time 68, were sen-
tenced to 6 months each in federal prison for trespassing on Fort
Benning’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
(formerly the School of the Americas), a base implicated in the
training of Latin American paramilitary groups known for hu-
man rights abuses. Setting a foundation for issues of witnessing,
surveillance, testifying, higher powers and subterfuge, the Hen-
nessey sisters imagery gives way to hammering hands and com-
mences to a series of disconcerting intercuts, including recent
footage of Fort Benning protests, that suture together the mun-
dane and the fantastical as based in faith and body. In fleeting
footage that is sometimes frenetic and sometimes elusive, even
foreboding, the zone of trespass at Fort Benning is established.
When one protestor, enacting her belief, quickly crosses that line,
the force of her capture is felt through a long close-up shot. The
fuzzy and faded exposures and focus of Black Iron Vatican re-
call the formal qualities of independent cinema as well as leftist
guerilla filmmaking of the 60s and 70s, evoking questions about
the position of the sites, activities and aesthetics of contemporary
protest as they have been influenced by established histories and
Several other works in the exhibition, videos and posters, raise
questions of disappointment, powerlessness, worship and fellow-
ship. One video work, Announcing the Mysteries (19 mins), takes
as its inspiration long running Catholic Television programs fea-
turing rosary recitation. The original typically featured soft focus
and superimposed edits with multiple camera angles trained on
an idyllic youth in a lush landscape leading the rosary and slowly
joined by others in his or her faith. In his self-performed work,
Roche’s incantation is more guttural and ambiguous. Isolated in
a rural landscape his primal repetitions point toward an earth-
bound aesthetic and incomprehensible pain, as well as a faith
that eludes definition as either ironic or sincere. Roche’s posters,
drawn from Super-8 film sequences, explore these themes in
highly saturated imagery manipulated through film distortion and
layering, video processing, and radical scale shifts. Throughout
the exhibition, the failure to attain a true transcendence of spirit
is omnipresent; the body from which this expression is uttered
continually betrays the ecstatic witnessing that Roche portrays.
Gallery 400’s At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series annu-
ally commissions four new projects from Chicago area artists. At
the Edge aims to support experimental projects that might not
find support elsewhere."
BORN TO LIVE LIFE
From 2005, Born to Live Life is an experimental documentary that follows Victor Cayro from deep inside the body to far out into the astral plane. Around the time I made this one, charisma, here something like profound narcissism, transcendental narcissism, was a force I was trying to understand. The summer we shot this I was thinking about Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Space is the Place, and Zardoz. Victor was thinking about Robocop and Die Hard. Dubuque, IA plays itself, Peru, and its cablevisionary double. Victor does something similar.
This film was part of my MFA thesis at SAIC, and it has appeared in many galleries and festivals. One highlight of its screening history is when it won Best of Festival at the 2005 Iowa City Documentary Film Festival with Sam Green and Rebecca Baron as judges.
An imagined feature length version of this with the planned title Crossing Streams never happened, although another short resulted from some additional footage of Harpo Hutchinson, a legendary Dubuque, IA light bulb collector. In the larger film he and Victor were supposed to meet up as avatars in some other space and time, but Harpo didn't like his costume and wouldn't wear it.