Ballroom Marfa Art Fund


Whitechapel Gallery Artists’ Film International Highlights Nicole Miller

5 Nov 2014


Jorge Macchi’s (Argentina) film 12 short Songs (2009), Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery

This video presented by London’s Whitechapel Gallery highlights the 2014 season of works for Artists’ Film International, a collection of artists’ film, video and animation from around the world. Among the artists highlighted is Nicole Miller, who will be featured in Ballroom’s sixth installment of Artist’s Film International. Artist’s Film International is on view November 22-January 11, 2015 at Ballroom Marfa, with an opening reception on November 22 from 6-8pm. Click here for all the details.

The video also includes work from artists Jorge Macchi (Argentina), Angela Su (China), Oded Hirsch (Israel) and Provmyza Group (Russia).

A description of Nicole Miller’s piece from Whitechapel:

Untitled (David) (2012) by Nicole Miller observes a man the artist encountered by chance on the street.
He recounts the events leading to the amputation of his left arm whilst his right limb is reflected in a mirror,

AFI – Nicole Miller Opens November 22, 2014!

27 Oct 2014

Nicole Miller “Untitled” (David), 2012 Still from one channel of 3 channel HD Raw video installation 7:09 min looped

Artists’ Film International: Nicole Miller
Curated by Erin Kimmel

November 22, 2014 – January 11, 2015
Opening: November 22, 6-8pm


Organized in conjunction with Whitechapel Gallery, London, Ballroom Marfa is pleased to present the sixth season of Artists’ Film International, a program that showcases international artists working in film and animation. This year in the north and south galleries Ballroom Marfa will feature two video works, David (2012) and Death of a School (2014), by Los Angeles-based artist Nicole Miller.

Miller’s videos explore self-representation and self-presentation in narrative form as a tool for the reconstitution of both physical and psychic manifestations of loss. In David, a man re-tells the story of loosing his arm in a brutal act of random violence while concurrently re-generating his phantom limb through exercises performed in front of a mirror. Interspersed throughout the two galleries, the four-channel work Death of a School is a predominantly silent and languid meditation on a soon to be shut-down school in Miller’s hometown of Tuscon, Arizona where the artist’s mother taught for the majority of her life. Presented together, the videos embrace malleable identity as a function of the story we construct about ourselves as subject or artist—one in which representation not only mediates knowledge through fragmentation and negation but constructs it as well.

Additionally, each of the 12 participating institutions has selected one artist from their region whose works will be screened as part of the international AFI program. Ballroom Marfa’s center gallery has been transformed into an interactive screening room for the viewing of the entire selection of works for the duration of the exhibition.

Nicole Miller (b. 1982; Tucson, Arizona) lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo shows include Believing is Seeing (LACMA), Death of a School (Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneve); The Conductor (LAXART) and Daggering (HMAAC).

An Alix Pearlstein Primer

18 Jul 2013

Some background reading on Alix Pearlstein for those of you still cramming for Ballroom’s Friday opening of our installment in the Artists’ Film International series. Click here for all the details.

From the December 2012 issue of Artforum:


From “The Nothing Act”, a profile of Alex Pearlstein’s recent work in the April 2013 issue of Art in America:

The circling camera of The Drawing Lesson was a device Pearlstein also used for her 2008 show at the Kitchen. Having created the four-channel video After the Fall in the venue’s black box theater downstairs, she then showed the piece in the white box gallery upstairs, alluding to the differing modes of performance in theater and art. Filmed using a set of four cameras, the video first shows a couple on the verge of having sex, and then the interplay between two groupings of actors, one in pink-and-red costumes and the other in gold-and-black. A couple of the actors feign injury from altercations. The way the actors are divided by costume and actions harkens back to Pearlstein’s earlier, more allegorical work. But the constant observation of the actors by the camera, as well as the greater immediacy of their connection with the viewer, makes the work feel more elemental. Building on such effects, Pearlstein went on to adapt the premise of the musical A Chorus Line (the 1975 play and 1985 film) for her video Talent (2009). A Chorus Line, which ran for over 6,000 performances, setting a Broadway record, is about actors auditioning for parts in a new musical. They laugh, cry, sing, dance and tell heartbreaking stories about themselves and their careers. Pearlstein stripped the musical of its songs and dialogue, leaving only the wondrous, spontaneous ephemera of actors at an audition: waiting, hopeful, bored or yearning for attention. At one point they share a loaf of bread. They turn their acting personas on and off and mingle occasionally, though they mostly stay in line as the camera moves in a parallel track back and forth across them.

Continue reading

And finally, an excerpt from a Q&A between Pearlstein and John Pilson in the Winter 2013 issue of BOMB:

JP You’re an artist who has not become all consumed by video, but who sees the opportunity of it containing everything. I remember asking you for advice about how to edition things. I was feeling a little insecure about DVDs, thinking that I had to make nice boxes for them or something. You set me straight, “You have absolutely nothing to make up for. Everything you have to say has been put into that video. Nothing is required to make it more of an object.”

AP I’m glad I said that.

JP Those anxieties never exactly go away, but what you said really helped. It also seems completely in line with your work because it never points outside of itself. You rarely seem to be imitating anything: your videos don’t look like movies or TV shows, and they’re not cinematic, necessarily. Everything in them is active: the camera, ideas about performance, acting, figures, and space. Everything is competing for our attention. Anybody using the moving image has to contend with genre. With TV, you could measure in milliseconds how long it takes to know what you’re looking at: the news, porn, a documentary, or a reality show. Video artists have to contend with that, but they also have a great opportunity to question the assumed passivity of the viewer.

AP I consciously evade genre. Although, there are moments that may suggest a genre, say sci-fi in Light (2012) or suspense in Distance (2006)—but the suggestion is misleading, impure, and it doesn’t hold.

JP One does get the sense in your work that you’re scrutinizing something, or many things at once. I’m curious about what those things are?

AP The center point of what I’m thinking about right now is the affective space and the fundamental relationship between the camera, the viewer, and the subject—and what activates it. Camera movement, positing the camera as a viewer, and the gaze from the subject to camera can activate this. Light and sound can activate that space too. In both works up now at On Stellar Rays—The Drawing Lesson (2012) and Moves in the Field (2012)—a powerful light and a shotgun mic are mounted on the camera. As the camera nears, the subjects become very brightly lit, almost blown out, spotlighted, and you can hear their breath. These elements act to implicate the viewer.

Keep reading in BOMB.


The opening reception for Artists Film International — Alix Pearlstein takes place Friday, 19 July 2013 from 6–8pm. There will be an exhibition walk-through with Alix Pearlstein on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 10am. All events are free and open to the public at Ballroom Marfa.

Isto Cash & Laxmi Luthra at Michael Strogoff

28 Jun 2013

Itso Cash & Laxmi Luthra
Notes on the Desert
Sunday, June 30 @ 7:00PM

‘The desert is spread everywhere but can always reach new depths.’

Michael Strogoff invites you for a pair of talks by Laxmi Luthra and Isto Cash.

Luthra will bring three seemingly disparate videos into relation through a close analysis of what speaks through them and what we can hear about contemporary existence by listening: a DLP Cinema-Texas Instruments trailer, a french pantyhose advertisement shown in movie theaters in the early-1970s, and a promotional video highlighting advances in the military-industrial mimicry of four-legged animal mechanics for robotic warfare.

Cash will present a snapshot of recent uses of the theory of abstraction in artistic discourse, including discussion of gallery and museum installations by Allan Sekula and Reena Spaulings, and will explore why this theory, innovative in the mid-19th century, might be having an afterlife in the early 21st.

Abstraction, mediation, and a good time will be had by all.

Micheal Strogoff
124 E. El Paso St
Marfa, TX

An Introduction to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

12 Jun 2013


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song screens at 8pm on 12 June 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

Note: For this screening, viewers under 17 will require an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is Melvin Van Peebles third movie, which he wrote, directed, produced, composed music for and starred in. Dedicated to “all the sisters and brothers who had enough of the man,” the film follows a young African American man on his flight from white authority. No studio would agree to fund the film, so Van Peebles financed it independently, shooting over a 19-day period, performing his own stunts and several unsimulated sex scenes. Sweet Sweetback is hailed as the beginning of blaxpoloitation as a genre and Van Peebles refused to submit the film to the all-white MPAA ratings board for approval. His opinion was that they were not a jury of his peers and they’d been approving crippling images of people of color for years, so why let them dictate his cinematic agenda? In the end, the film received an X-rating and Van Peebles made T-shirts that read “Rated X by an all white jury,” and incorporated it into his marketing campaign.

In the book Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song: A Guerilla Filmmaking Manifesto, Van Peebles recounts that the idea for the film materialized during his first soul-searching and auto-erotic trip to the Mojave Desert. Looking out at the at an endless row of electric pylons sandwiched by sky and land, he thought it through:

Daniel R. Small at Michael Strogoff

7 Jun 2013

An opening at Marfa’s Michael Strogoff

daniel r small
expert witness
June 7 – June 29, 2013
Opening: June 7, 6-8PM

Expert Witness is a new project by Los Angeles based artist Daniel R Small.

The exhibition will feature Daniel’s photographs and sculptures as well as the release of a limited edition publication of the same name, published by Colpa (SF, CA).

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An Introduction to The Brother from Another Planet

5 Jun 2013

The Brother from Another Planet screens at 8pm on 5 June 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

An Introduction to John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet

Last week’s film, Space Is the Place, extolled the virtues of a transcendent science fiction aimed at elevating the black population beyond its earthbound social state to the forgotten and immortal path beyond the stars through music. This week’s film, The Brother from Another Planet, inverts Sun Ra’s Afro-futurist and escapist rhetoric, offering a parabolic albeit comedic exploration of life in Harlem in 1984.

Written, directed and edited by independent filmmaker John Sayles, The Brother from Another Planet stars Joe Morton as an escaped slave from outer space, who resembles a black human being everywhere except in his feet. He lands in the ocean off of Ellis Island and blankly makes his way to Harlem where he must quickly learn about an abstract monetary system, class struggle and racial divide without using language, as he cannot speak. Sayles’ choice to make him mute turns the brother into a sort of mirror for society and leads to nuanced satire on immigration and assimilation.

Steve Kado at Michael Strogoff

15 Mar 2013

Another weekend, another happening at Michael Strogoff, the Marfa gallery from Nicolas Miller and Ballroom Associate Curator Erin Kimmel:


From the website:

Please join us for the opening of Steve Kado’s
Total Motion Sickness, Friday, March 15 from 7-9pm.
Light and talking performance at 8pm.

Michael Strogoff
124 E El Paso St
Marfa, TX 79843

Saturday 12-5
Sunday 12-5
or by appointment 917-226-5552

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