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Glasstire on Ed Atkins in Äppärät

21 Oct 2015

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Ed Atkins
Even Pricks, 2013
Looped 16:10 HD video with 5.1 surround sound
Courtesy the artist and Ballroom Marfa
Photo by Thierry Bal

Christina Rees ponders over Ed Atkins’ Even Pricks (2013), part of our current Äppärät group exhibition, curated by Tom Morton…

Atkins’ images, which unfurl and flicker in a kind of methodical, episodic rhythm, are 100% CGI. There isn’t a pixel in them Atkins hasn’t essentially created from scratch, and this dreamlike surrealism runs beyond the intentional into something else: I want to call his work post-verbal, but as narrative it might actually be pre-received, or pre-processed. I mean that because we live with images on screen all the time and have for years, our instinct for Atkins is already in our blood, even if our ability to describe his intention isn’t yet fully formed. We internet addicts of a specific vintage—I mean we who’ve straddled a world both with and without personal computers—can locate Atkins’ fake-real markers well enough. Here it’s rendered human hands, a chimpanzee, leaves, water, sky, a bed. The insistent, grabby text frames look hokey and familiar, too. Thus we automatically understand that something is happening here we might recognize. That’s what hooks us, and our hunger to realize his pattern of communication is engaged like a heat-seeking missile.

Keep reading at Glasstire. Read Morton’s notes on the exhibition here.

Glasstire on “Sound, Speed, Marker”

18 Apr 2014

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Giant, 2014. Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler
High Definition video with sound 30min., loop. Courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin. Commissioned by Ballroom Marfa

Glasstire recently reviewed Ballroom’s current exhibition, Hubbard/Birchler’s Sound, Speed, Marker. An excerpt:

The evolution from documentation to dispersion is fulfilled in the last video, Giant (2014), which was commissioned by Ballroom Marfa. It is shown in the largest space, on three screens that fill the long wall in the gallery. When we see a continuous image across this expanse, the extreme horizontal aspect ratio calls to mind the epic grandeur of the eponymous 1956 film itself. Hubbard and Birchler’s formidable technical prowess allows them to capture stunning shots of the landscape, sunsets, thunderstorms, even ants swarming a dead grasshopper. The site of these natural wonders is an abandoned film set constructed by Warner Brothers for the original Giant. Now it is merely a skeletal ruin perched in the landscape, an armature about which the degradations of nature continue unabated.

Its role as an armature is twofold. It is a frame through which we see the landscape, in the present, and it is a relic, through which Hubbard and Birchler imagine the drafting of the contract between Warner Brothers and the land owner on which the structure was to be built. Giant cuts back and forth between these two scenarios. They introduce a new element that was absent from the previous two videos, historical reconstruction. A secretary in a sunny office in February 1955 sits at her typewriter, consulting the shorthand on her notepad, typing up the contract. We get extreme closeups of the typewriter mechanisms, the keys striking the paper, the carriage return; the secretary, all lipstick and eyeliner, smokes, is visited by a male supervisor, and gazes wistfully out the window for some reason.

Giant dispenses with spoken language altogether, and the convention of talking-head interviews. There are no “real” people telling their stories. The site of the historical movie is not defined by absence, as in the previous two videos. Instead, the history is concrete and well documented, which seems to grant license to Hubbard and Birchler to push further away from narrative. In this, they achieve fantastic visual pleasure with the landscape scenes in the present.

Continue reading over at Glasstire.

Glasstire Loves Cinemarfa

20 May 2013

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Glasstire just posted the second article in a two-part series on CineMarfa, the film festival founded by Marfa residents David Hollander and Jennifer Lane in 2011. In short, Glasstire’s Peter Lucas was feeling it. From CineMarfa 2013 (Part 1: The Festival)

“Because it is relatively small, free, laid back, and has an audience heavy in artists and cultural investigators, there was little distinction between the intermingling festival organizers, official guests, and audience members – all of whom were there simply to see films and to share their thoughts and ideas. (Of course, that should be the case at all film festivals, but believe me, it’s rare.) Discussions about the films, and art and life in general, spilled out between screenings onto the front steps, and in pockets at the Lost Horse Saloon and Padre’s Bar and Grill, at the festival’s rooftop cocktail hour at Hotel Paisano and the closing party at the Chicken Coop.”

Lucas also provides an enthusiastic assessment of the festival’s programming in CineMarfa 2013 (Part 2: The Films), including a look at the work of local filmmaker (recently seen in the role of Staff Sgt. Baldy in “Devils at Play”) Joe Cashiola …

West Texas Cloud Appreciation Society, a Texas-paced, work-in-progress documentary essay by Marfa-based filmmaker Joseph Cashiola, provided glimpses of the area’s diversity of characters and happenings—from ranching and cowboy poetry to punk rock house parties, UFO conventions, and art parades. The wilder life is brought down to earth with shots of the landscape and sky, and by scenes with folks like Marfa bar owner Ty Mitchell and Valentine, Texas artist Boyd Elder. This painted an intriguing portrait of the unique planet that is West Texas, and its screening being packed with enthusiastic locals reminded me that I was in the middle of it.”

In other film news, the Marfa Film Festival is gearing up for its return on June 26, and here at the Ballroom we’re putting the finishing touches on the New Growth film program, curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel. And, of course, we’re looking forward to the arrival of Alix Pearlstein in July as part of the Artists’ Films International program. Stay tuned for more information.