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An Experimental Video Smorgasbord 

REDCAT's Artist Theater Program

Thursday, Feb 24 2011
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Erika Vogt, a cross-disciplinary ball of fire whose film/video/installation work has blazed from CalArts to the 2010 Whitney Biennial, curates an evening of experimental video as jumbled as a bag of cats. But what provocative cats.

A shimmering highlight is the formally beautiful 2009 digital video Lake Pavilion, a moving still life of nature and empty architecture (in the form of a 1962 building on Philip Johnson's Connecticut estate) by UCLA photography department head James Welling. His filtered lens produces a disquieting quality of surveillance, remote observation. Stunning shifts of light and subtle pans from arching pillars to surrounding, wind-blown trees trace a preverbal longing and disconnection. This meditative work speaks volumes by not insisting.

Lucy Raven originally created 4:3 public service announcements (2008) to be shown on wee-hours public-access TV. Dryly ironic, its scrolling white-on-black text silently describes public-access TV history to presumably semisomnolent viewers: an archaic predigital system, a Blade Runner landscape of ossified technology.

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In Premonition (2010), 2008 Whitney Biennial artist Alice Könitz creates a modern re-enactment of Gaspar de Portola's 1769 discovery of the Los Angeles River. Filming at the now-concrete river banks, her actors sport faux-'50s modernist cardboard hats. She achieves a mock-historic pathos, remaking a site now known for Hollywood crime scenes into an ironic forest-primeval utopia. It's a past-versus-present drama in which the winner seems to be human self-delusion.

Several artists will be present at the Monday-night event, including members of New York's W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), whose graphically sophisticated video billboards decry artists' exploitation. These vibrant kinetic manifestos slide collaged text blocks over images, such as pie tins with single slices (representing artists' skimpy pay). Crowd applause greets the mad-as-hell voice-over.

The '80s had the Guerrilla Girls' performances protesting art-world misogyny; our New-Normal economy makes dystopic community-based activist art viable again. W.A.G.E.'s message: When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose by being rude.

THE ARTIST THEATER PROGRAM: A GROUP SHOW OF FILM AND VIDEO WORK BY VISUAL ARTISTS | Mon., Feb. 28, 8:30 p.m. | REDCAT | redcat.org

Reach the writer at vellison01@earthlink.net

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