Many Thanks

October 2, 2008

Thanks to all of the artists that participated in Near Sighted-Far Out. I look forward to working with you again in the future. 

Uncle Bob and guest

* The house was packed on opening night. Thanks to Danielle Abrams aka Uncle Bob for an entertaining performance, and to her guests for their thoughtful responses.

The Solmi Family

* Federico Solmi and Nanna Debois Buhl had the opportunity to talk with Uncle Bob and the audience about their work. Congrats to Federico and Jennifer on their new addition to the family, little Luca!

Stills from various Kelley videos

Stills from Kelley's video "Big Gurl"

* Just before the festival began, Houston resident and participating artist Lauren Kelley, was without power  due to Hurricane Ike. Best wishes to you and the city of Houston. Get the Bones… was well received and we look forward to seeing more of your animations in the future.

* Coral Short traveled from Montreal to perform at the festival. If you missed Short last Thursday, you can watch a video of her performance on Maya’s blog. Thanks Maya Suess for all of your hard work.

 Still from Silver's "in complete world"

Still from Silver's "in complete world"

* Shelly Silver introduced her piece “in complete world,” which screened almost simultaneously in Brooklyn at Video Dumbo. As many viewers said, it was the perfect precursor to the McCain/Obama debate later that night. Thank you for making this important piece, Silver.

* Thanks to Carol, Dan and Hans at Harvestworks for hosting the festival, and to the fabulous interns that assisted with the events.



Shelly Silver, "in complete world" (still).

Fast forwarding to the last night of the festival, works by Tommy Mintz, Lilly McElroy and Shelly Silver comprise the program for Friday, September 26th. These three artists use video to document transient moments on city streets, subsequently allowing viewers unique and varied perspectives of human interaction (or lack thereof) in a metropolis. Mintz sells his Public Toilet Map in Times Square; McElroy gives unsolicited hugs on the streets of Chicago; and Silver (along with her crew) conduct street interviews throughout New York City, asking rather simple questions that result in a complex and often humorous narrative about the current political and economic climate. Silver’s brilliant feature-length documentary, titled in complete world (2008), will close the festival; this is only the second public screening of the artist’s most recent work.

Silver is a New York based artist whose work spans a wide range of subject matters and genres in her exploration of personal and societal relations that connect and restrict us; the indirect routes of pleasure and desire; the stories that are told about us and the stories we construct about ourselves.

Shelly Silver, "in complete world" (still).

in complete world  takes the tension between individual and collective responsibility as its focus and mixes political questions like “Are we responsible for the government we get?” with more broadly existential ones, such as “Do you feel you have control over your life?” and “Are you satisfied?”

Shelly Silver, "in complete world" (still).

Silver says, “The film can be seen as a user’s manual for citizenship in the 21st century, as well as a glimpse into the opinions and self-perceptions of a diverse group of Americans. It is a testament to the people of NYC in this new millennium, who freely offer up thoughtful, provocative and at times tender revelations to a complete stranger, just because she asked.”

Shelly Silver, "in complete world" (still).

Silver has exhibited at local and international venues, including MoMA, The PompidouCenter, The Kyoto Museum, the London Institute of Contemporary Art, and the London, Singapore, New York, Moscow and Berlin Film Festivals. She attended Cornell University, graduating in 1980 with a B.A. in Intellectual History, and a B.F.A. in Mixed Media. She subsequently attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Silver currently teaches at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Sciences and in the MFA Department of Photography and Related Media, School of Visual Arts.

Julia Brown

September 26, 2008

American Vernacular (still)

"American Vernacular" (still)

Julia Brown holds an MFA from CalArts and a BA from Williams College in Studio Art. She is the 2006 recipient of the Dedalus Foundation MFA Painting Award, and a 2008-2009 Winter fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA. Her work has been exhibited at LMAK Projects, New York, Greenleaf Gallery at Whittier College, 507Rose Gallery, Venice, Supersonic 1 at Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, and Artists Space, New York. This fall, Brown’s work will be on view at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT. Her video American Vernacular (2007) is on view at Harvestworks through September 26.

The current state of George W. Bush's effigy.

Brown writes:

Recently I’ve been thinking about the objects and images we make culturally as wishes [for what we want in reality]. In making American Vernacular, I wanted to animate figural decor objects so that their latent psychological content could be foregrounded.

A composite of images from the Oval Office video. Top left and right, Clinton; Bottom left and right, Nixon.

Currently I’m re-editing a piece about the color symbolism of the decor of the Oval Office. I’m also working on a video in which I make an effigy and perform a ceremony to spiritually heal George W. Bush (both projects pictured here).

Patrick Bergeron

September 25, 2008

Patrick Bergeron is a video artist that “manipulates images and enhances their meanings.” He is interested in concepts of speed, memories and details. His work is a mix between, animation, abstract and documentary film. For the last 15 years, he has worked for the film industry as a digital artist (compositor), including some of the most challenging shots on films like The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix. Bergeron’s piece LoopLoop will screen tonight, September 24th (7-8pm).

He writes:

I was musician making noise. I studied physic engineering…did a master degree in aerospace…suddenly decided that it was not what I wanted…I became a computer geek, administrating computers and networks. I built web sites…I started to help artists on software…I started to use them…I started to work on TV shows and feature films as compositor…I traveled 6 months in Asia and develop my camera skills by shooting little moments and objects that I saw everyday. My tools are the camera, the computer and my sensibility. I’ve never had the chance to draw, paint or to do sculpture.

In my mind LoopLoop is a cinematic installation, a never ending temporal machine, turning, rotating, zooming, looking for details, for history, for memories. I started it by building a static cylinder prototype (image 1). [It] was nice to take the time to build it, but I never had the chance to show it. Last year I started to do large prints with the main LoopLoop image. The first print I did was 12 x 9 feet (image 2). It was very exciting to show it last year in The Hague, Netherlands, during Today’s Art festival.

This 5 minute video loop is made from a video sequence I took in a train going to Hanoi in Vietnam, I filmed the houses boarding the railroad. The 1000 images of this sequence have been stitched into one long panoramic image. Into this long still image, I integrated other moving elements and built smooth transitions over it. The soundtrack is composed of original recording sounds in which noises warp as time shifts. 

While traveling in South-East Asia, I captured the day to day events, places, and people I encountered. When I came back home, many experiences had already been forgotten. My brain failed by the abundance of the subjects met. When I look at the video tapes of my travels, I remember those past events. My memory is activated by these images. By watching them several times, I detect new interesting facts; a dog hidden in a corner, a sign on a wall, a strange person. For now on each one of these new details, unperceived before, takes part and contributes to my memories and souvenirs.

I hope you enjoy the video version of my project!

I’m presently working on a few single-channel videos and installations. In my next project sound and music will be a big part of the creative process. By working again with sound and instruments, I’m closing a loop…I’m still a musician making noise.

Uncle Bob and Maureen. Photo by Tommy Mintz.


I can hardly wait to see you at the opening night of the Harvestworks Video Art Festival, Near Sighted-Far Out, and my first time ever veejaying. Although veejaying will be a new task for me to master, I trust that my many-some-odd years of schticking in the Borscht Belt, as well as having a high powered executive position for the U.S. government has adequately prepared me to do a superb job! And how could I fail with a marvelous and effervescent audience such as you??

First, we have a magnificent and highly talented group of VIDEO ARTISTS whose work will be showing.  These include Elizabeth Axtman, Alan Calpe, Nanna Debois Buhl, Brendan Fernandes, Natalie Frigo, Stephanie Hough, Amy Lynn Kazymerchyk, Jefferson Pinder, Federico Solmi, Donna Szoke, and Traci Talasco.

Then my right and left arms for the evening–THE VIDEO RESPONDENTS. They include a dynamic array of multi-talented, daring, darling, and delightful EXTRAORDINARY EVERYBODYS!!!!! They are masters in their fields; I have had one-on-one and eloquent conversations with them on everything from money matters to menus. They have consistently impress me with their diligence, charm, and positive attitudes. I would ask any of them in a split second to be a member of my staff.

Uncle Bob, Mom, and Tarique. Photo by Tommy Mintz.

Uncle Bob, Mom and Tarique. Photo by Tommy Mintz.

So, without further ado, let me tell you WHO THEY ARE:

Is a permanent fixture on The Uncle Bob Show. Whether in a pink feathered dance costume or a sequined evening gown, Lovely Lauren wrangles wallflowers to the dance floor, hands out prizes, dyes Easter Eggs, pops popcorn, and decorates Uncle Bob’s sets with festive signs and decorations. She is a generous, loving, devoted cutiepie of a granddaughter to her sister Danielle and to Uncle Bob.

Is the founder of “Stand Up for a Cure.” This organization raises awareness and money for cancer research. This September, Jordan produced a fundraiser featuring the Dave Matthews Band at Madison Square Garden. Jordan is a nurse at Sloane Kettering Hospital. He knows many celebrities in the entertainment industry, and is a mensch of a grandson!

Has discerning taste buds and can shepherd you to the cheap, tasty, yummy-in-your-tummy restaurants throughout all 5 boroughs. I have personally never experienced a loss of protein in my dinners with Seth and he has a sharp mind for numbers including the tip. Seth is a geriatric social worker, the “king of oatmeal,” and a true-blue movie buff.

Is the best dressed dame that anyone would ever know! Ask her all about those downtown sample sales. Maureen calls herself a video and installation artist but she is also a good listener who asks challenging questions. Maureen has exhibited her work all over the world and is about to travel to Romania, where she will be launching a collaboration with the Institute for Wishful Thinking at Periferic 8: Biennial for Contemporary Art. Maureen is a veteran on The Uncle Bob Show. She just can’t seem to get enough Mountain Dew and Mallomars!

I’m sorry to say that Steven–that dynamic librarian and writer (who’s also a great dresser!) –won’t be able to join us tomorrow. He’s got a pinched nerve. Rest up Steven and we wish you a quick and thorough recovery.

My longtime work partner, Tommy is a faithful employee of the Uncle Bob staff. (He is currently storing my Xerox machine.) Tommy takes snapshots of all of my dance lessons, speeches, meetings with important people (like those pictured above) and somehow manages to print my photos on the spot. Not only is Tommy a bright young man, he is a true magician! A native New Yorker, Tommy has designed published and sells the first ever NYC Public Toilet Map. Graphed from personal experience in our city’s toilets, he does the dirty job of rating their quality.

Was once Uncle Bob’s boss at the City University of New York. They both left CUNY! Margaret was always pleased with Bob’s job performance, so much in fact that she has agreed to join the Uncle Bob Family. I am impressed and astounded by Margaret’s paintings of African American singers wearing traditional African masks. And like Uncle Bob, Margaret also puts on a show or two. She is currently curating a collection at the Amistad Research Center at the New Orleans Museum of Art that will open in 2009.

Now here’s a young man that put the “men” in mensch. He is a klezmer with Motown in his ears, and plays the accordion as well as all sorts of other instruments–even the kazoo! Justin is a recent transplant to NYC from Detroit so be sure to bring a sign to the show reading: JUSTIN WEDES—UNCLE BOB WELCOMES YOU TO THE BIG APPLE!

Also a returnee to The Uncle Bob Show, Tarique is a devotee to the Dancing on a Cloud repertoire. He has done some fancy footwork on many a Conga Line and has been a fine participant in my Macarena lessons. Tarique is 12 and just started middle school. He is a poet who doesn’t take himself too seriously, and recently caught a baseball at a NY Mets game.

And last but not least…UNCLE BOB (aka Danielle Abrams)
I am proud to tell you that I’ve been a ballroom dance teacher and a Regional Administrator for the U.S. government’s Department of Labor (D.O.L.) for 40-some-odd years. I also compiled the vinyl LP titled It’s Like Dancing on a Cloud with Bob and Doris. Doris is my wife.

My granddaughter Danielle, also in the entertainment business, has taken a few dance steps where I left off. Together we host dance lessons, Champagne Hours, and even allow for an unsuspecting appearance at a family gathering or art opening. Having met such superb and scintillating celebrities through our social networks, we have been so delighted to create a venue where we could schmooze, snooze, nosh, and have a little chat. This, of course, being The Uncle Bob Show! Our first of many Uncle Bob Shows took place at The Jewish Museum last March as part of Andrew Ingall’s curatorial project, Off the Wall Artists at Work. See the movie here.

We had such a marvelous time with our guests at The JewMu that we decided to present them to you again at Near Sighted-Far Out. This time, rather than showing you what THEY DO, our guests will talk about what YOU DO; be prepared VIDEO ARTISTS for ingenious responses to your wonderful creations that our guests are preparing to present!

Can’t wait to see you all…and be sure to have your tummy ready for yummy yummy popcorn!

Your Uncle,

Brendan Fernandes

September 24, 2008

Born in Kenya of Indian heritage, Brendan Fernandes immigrated to Canada in the 1990s. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007; earned his MFA in 2005 from The University of Western Ontario; and his BFA  from York University, Canada in 2002. Accolades include grants from The Ontario and Canada Councils for the Arts, including the International Residency in Trinidad and Tobago. Fernandes currently works between Toronto and New York. His new video Foe will screen at Harvestworks on Wednesday, September 24th (7-9pm).

Fernandes writes:

“As a Goan who has never set foot in Indiamuch less Goa, and as a Goan-Kenyan who has lived the greater portion of his life in Canada, having left Kenya at a young age and currently residing in New York, I wonder what to call myself? The work Foe represents video footage of me receiving lessons where I have hired an acting coach to teach me the “accents” of my cultural backgrounds. I am not interested in the authenticity of these accents but in the idea of being taught to speak in these voices. This work is compelled by a personal narrative of my time in Kenya. Growing up there as a child, I used to speak Swahili fluently, but after having lived in Canada for twenty years now, I cannot speak the language anymore. My realization of this came when I was given the opportunity to speak with my caregiver, a woman who looked after me and whom I considered my second mother. After years of being away, our phone reunion concluded that I could not form the words to speak to her; I had forgotten the language. Although traumatic, this event has made me question my migration and ideas of who I [am or] have become since leaving my place of birth.

The text that I am speaking is taken from a book with the same titled as my piece. This book, a sequel to “Robinson Crusoe” was written by J. M. Coetzee. In this book, Friday (the savage) has been mutilated; his tongue has been removed and he cannot speak. For this work I have memorized the specific passage where Crusoe explains this to another.

The video depicts my struggle to learn the accents that are supposedly a part of who I am. Throughout the video are cuts that include my rehearsal of the script where I am learning the accents, as well as movement exercises in which I am training my mouth to articulate the accent’s pattern and sound. The work is humorous as well as critical; I am questioning my authenticity to my place(s) of origin. The metaphor of Friday having no tongue is uncannily similar to my inability to speak any of my native “tongues.” My tongue in a way has been removed. What does this say about who I am?”

Fernandes has exhibited internationally, recently participating in The Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, China (2008) and the Western New York Biennial through The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York (2007). This year alone, he was a resident artist for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Emerge 10 at Aljira in Newark, New Jersey; and in the graduate program for Computer Arts at the School of Visual Arts (New York). He is represented by Diaz Contemporary Gallery in Toronto.

Amy Lynn Kazymerchyk

September 23, 2008

Amy Lynn Kazymerchyk is interested in the physical, tactile and collaborative aspects of experimental filmmaking. Her films and videos have screened at the Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival in Paris, The Boston Underground Film Festival, and the Women’s International Film Festival in Seoul to name just a few. Kazymerchyk’s film What Don’t you understand about “I’m leaving…again’?” will screen at Harvestworks on Wednesday, September 24th (7-9pm). The piece (pictured here) recently won the award for Best Cinematography at the 50/104 Festival in Saskatoon.

"I'm Leaving Again..." (still)

Kazymerchyk writes: What don’t you understand about “I’m leaving… again’?”is a non-linear rumination on catching oneself between the headlights of cowardice and conviction. The visual narrative, presented in two parallel images, captures the protagonist at a crossroad in the act of resolving either to run away- in the one frame, or run towards- in the other. Quiet gestures and fragmented reflections contrast and concord to illuminate the quelling of her psychic battle. Brash releases of humour, irony, allegory, and cynicism clash and tear up against a raw and cutting soundtrack composed by Canadian singer songwriter Rae Spoon, and pedal steel player Aaron Joyce. Between a rock and a hard place, [performer] Ila Kavanagh carves a refreshing edge to her dynamic evocations of hopelessness, resentment, shame, fear, hope, love, rage and desire. I’m Leaving… is a subtly confrontational wake up call for those who can never seem to stay, nor fully walk away.

Kazymerchyk began the process of making the film with a rough sketch of an idea-in this case the experience of running towards and away from a place, person, or experience at the same time. She then pulled the actors, musicians, and production assistants into the film’s development and facilitated a collaborative process. The location was chosen and then every scene was scripted on location the day of the shoot. To prepare for the shoot, Kavanagh made a mixed CD with one song for every emotion she and Kazymerchyk had brainstormed to invoke fleeing and returning. Before each shot Kavanagh’s would listen to a track on a discman and improvise an emotion-fear, jealousy, resentment, sorrow, joy, lust etc in front of the rolling camera. The entire film was shot on 15 minutes of Super 8 film, and almost every single shot appears in the final cut. The final scene in which Ila hands herself a balloon was constructed on the spot, after a last minute impulse to buy helium balloons on their way out of town to the shoot. Balloons figure prominently in Kavanagh’s own paintings and drawings, and are an important symbol in her own life. The finished film, edited and screened on digital video, is a balance of cinematic and digital movie making. Super 8 film offers Kazymerchykan opportunity to consciously and rigorously manipulate the aesthetics of the film grain, focal length, and sensitivity to light, while digital video allows her flexibility in post production sculpting, pacing, and framing.

Kazymerchyk is currently working on a personal essay in Super-8 film about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Lower Mainland Gothic, and pre-Olympic destruction and development. As part of her curatorial endeavors, Amy recently inaugurated DIM, a monthly series of contemporary moving images and cinematic collaborations at the Pacific Cinematheque. She is also promoting and touring “Deep Lez Film Craft,” a retrospective of Allyson Mitchell and Christina Zeidler’s (Freeshow Seymour) film and video work; and celebrating the success of her second program for Vancouver’s Queer Film Festival, “How do you say Queer in French,” a survey of Radical Queer Francophone films and videos. Kazymerchykholds a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from Emily Carr University.