Curated by Darrin Martin & Torsten Zenas Burns
The power to name is often antithetical to the open ambiguities of dynamic artistic expressions. The videos within this program could only be brought together under the same umbrella with the meta-neologism Apportmanteau. Neologism, in the sense that it is the curators’ own word derived from apport, meaning the transference of an article from one unknown space to another, and meta, in the sense that part of the word is derived from portmanteau, which by very definition is a word comprised of two or more words. The following video works engage language on a slippery slope through a number of methods that may at times solidify the object of meaning only to transfer it to another less indistinguishable realm.
Digicosmos may perhaps be the most direct work to initiate the spirit of apportmanteau in both its name and process. Deriving from an experiment that connected images of Paris (France) and Busan (Korea) over a network, Argentine Lee visually connects physical aspects of both the east and the west with a chimeric reference that facilitates a cyberspace between the abstraction of digital information and the epic clarity of its potential for representation.
The Widening Gyre also engages the later but instead of deriving its visual vocabulary from recognizable spaces, Geoff Bell initiates a series of ambiguous vision-scapes as a vehicle linking ever threatening geo-political anxieties with a processed nostalgic age. At times, the ultimate dream transference lies incomplete and becomes the “manifestation” itself.
This could also be said of Suzie Silver and Hilary Harps’ Nebula, a video that evades language. Through the use of intricate ambiguous forms, it’s a voyage that elegantly moves between suggestive structures that evoke the visceral internal world of the body and the possible gargantuan shapes of the mysterious universe.
Both Michelle Handelman’s and Karina Aguilera Skvirsky’s videos use the monster as a point of psychological transference through vastly different means. Handelman’s This Delicate Monster confuses the space between reimagined horror genre,other worldly fashion shoot,and speculative summer camp leaving us with the reality that all are equally seductive and ludicrous. Skvirsky’s Blowback instigates a political questioning of the day as nightly news representations of mostly Arabic victims of war are appropriated into the scenic xenophobic landscape of a zombie film. Both works, oddly enough, use rural backdrops to unfold their nightmarish visions.
Darrin Martin’s Other Turbans also engages the potentially monstrous through the lens of technology’s infringement upon the body. The unveiling of a screw or port embedded in the artist’s skull transpires through layers of colorful ambiguities and cinéma vérité camerawork confusing the intentionality of the video to exist as a medical documentation of something or as an artistic endeavor. Feeling Free with 3D Magic Eye Poster Remix also employs medicinal self-help on a more playful but still ferociously ambiguous level as the artist, Shana Moulton, performs the character of a woman existing somewhere between the banality of suburbia and a new age nether-plane. Her activities culminate in a kaleidoscopic revelry of celebratory kitche that is a land like no other. Cooper Battersby and Emily Vey Dukes’ Attention Public resides as a piece that most directly engages the use of language. However, the transference comes in the form of a “Freedom Language” that holds the potential to grant “psycho-emotional space” for those who are “with-it.” The recognition that the press cannot convey the message forces the protagonist out from the underground to relay her message.
Whether the videos in Apportmanteau are used as a key to grand sociological freedoms or to open up spaces between existing or imaginary worlds, they are all connected to the notion of reinvention. Like alchemists of old or scientist anew, the artists in the program are churning ideas of lead into gold even if some of the gold is for fools. Ultimately, the works reside beyond an economy that values the norm and sometimes the transference is all that matters.