Artists' Television Access


Friday, August 5, 2011, 8:00 pm, $6

A program of short films selected by NYC artist-curator Billy Miller*


Safari (2008), by: Catherine Chalmers
Photographer Catherine Chalmers (who may be best known in biology circles for her portraits of genetically modified mice) goes beyond brutal accuracy in her animal photography. In Safari, the artist straddles the border between the real and the fanciful. This wordless, hallucinatory nature documentary is not precisely natural, nor exactly a documentary. The video presents a ravishing experience of natural color by following the travails of some New York cockroaches, a species no longer found in the wild, after their release into an elaborate rain forest constructed in her studio. Other inhabitants include an African claw frog, for which cockroach spells dinner; red-spotted newts; a gorgeous lizard; a pair of ferociously battling beetles; and a harlequin cockroach, whose black and white stripes are ready for Fashion Week. Through the use of extreme close-ups we witness a world in which bizarre plants and animals engage in a constant dance of eat, and be eaten.

Heavy Canon/Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda (1968), by: Ira Cohen
Ira Cohen’s counterculture classic, The Invasion of the Thurderbolt Pagoda, showcases the music of Angus MacLise (who was the original drummer of the rock group The Velvet Underground) and the Universal Mutant Repertory Company.
“Heavy Canon” (1968/2011), was directed and conceived by Cohen, edited by his assistant Will Cameron, and scored with previously unreleased tapes from the Angus MacLise archive.
“(Invasion…) is so High ’60s that you emerge from its 20-minute vision perched full-lotus on a cloud of incense, chatting with a white rabbit and smoking a banana…. INVASION is a languidly opiated costume ball in which an assortment of masked and painted bohos, some sporting outsize elf ears, loll about a candlelit, Mylar-lined set, blowing soap bubbles and nibbling majoon. … What saves INVASION from preciosity is the vague menace of Angus MacLise’s improvised pan-piping, tabla-tapping, creature-yipping score. Although this masterpiece of Tibetan-Moroccan-Druidic trance music was reissued on CD several years ago, it truly blossoms in conjunction with the exotic smorgasbord served at Cohen’s psychedelicatessen.” –J. Hoberman, VILLAGE VOICE

The Confession (1997), by: Steve Davis
Steve Davis is a documentary portrait and landscape photographer. With his photo project Captured Youth Davis turns his lens on juvenile offenders and institutions within Washington State. To quote the intro to his book of the same title; “What are officially referred to as schools are, in fact, youth correctional facilities – jails for juniors. It’s a world kept secret from the general public, but there are no secrets inside. Everyone is watched.”

Today (2009), by: Jonathan Harris
Artist Jonathan Harris, creator of works like We Feel Fine, Sputnik Observatory and The Whale Hunt, embarked on a year-long project when he turned 30, the results of which you see here. He has won three Webby Awards and was honored as “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. His work has received coverage by CNN and BBC and has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In his own words, his work aims to “explore and explain the human world”. He studied computer science at Princeton University.
When he hit the big 30, Harris started taking a picture a day and posting it to his site. At the end of the year, he worked with m ss ng p eces and director Scott Thrift to fashion the year in photos into this video, which features the images and Harris’ commentary on the nature of capturing one’s life a moment at a time.

Nuntitled (2011), by: Peter Maloney
Australian artist Peter Maloney’s video Nuntitled uses painted and collaged newspaper headlines to evoke an atmosphere of incongruous mystery. The Dada-esque connections created by a seemingly unrelated series of phrases, is further heightened by the use of a soundtrack provided by David Wojnarowicz and Doug Bressler.
Maloney has been exhibiting his art since the late 1980s, regularly at the Legge Gallery Sydney and more recently at Utopia Art Sydney, Exile Gallery Berlin, and Wessel O-Conner and Famous Accountants Gallery in New York City. Currently he is a full-time lecturer and painting instructor at the Australian National University, Canberra.

Harvey’s Birthday (2008), by: Ashleigh Nankivell
Short and sweet, dorky, brutal, and FUN, Harvey’s Birthday is a hilarious mash-up of genres wherein Nankivell (a veteran of remix video) combines a 1960’s vintage Folgers coffee commercial with a surrealist take on a puppet’s birthday.
Ashleigh makes a second appearance at A.T.A. in this program, following up the 2010 screening of her masterpiece Helping Johnny Remember.

NOPRAH (2011), by: Tara Sinn
Artist-filmmaker-designer Tara Sinn is a native of San Jose California and currently lives and works in New York City.
Sinn, who has exhibited her art internationally, is a self-proclaimed lover of “cats, the internet, and poking smot” who creates multimedia work with a humorous and ironic twist. In “ “ -a work originally imagined as a video for a San Franciscan rock group- she depicts the tragicomic impact of media mogul Oprah Winfrey’s dominion over her subjects. In this short piece we feel the confusion and experience the pain of the Big O’s total domination of the minds and souls of complacent (yet occasionally hyper-excited) television viewers everywhere… be afraid, be very afraid.

Secret Historian The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (2011), by: Justin Spring
This short teaser video offers a look into the world of university professor, pulp-fiction author, tattoo artist, and sexual renegade Sam Steward. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and over the course of decades bedded Rock Hudson, Rudolph Valentino, Lord Alfred Douglas and in addition to an almost countless array of partners, mostly from the lower classes… and, documented the majority of these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail. Biographer Justin Spring -author of Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art- has uncovered an important and, until-now, overlooked chapter of pre-Stonewall 20th century sexual subculture.

In the Dark We All Can Be Free: The Life and Photography of Alvin Baltrop  (Unfinished – date of completion T.B.A.), by: Randal Wilcox
Al Baltrop was born in the Bronx in 1948 and passed away in 2004. From 1975 to 1986 he photographed the scene on the crumbling piers on the west side of Manhattan. Photographing obsessively, he created an incredible archive of thousands of photographs that show a captivating mélange of intimacy, decay, violence, creativity and anarchy. Baltrop’s work was the subject (and cover) of ArtForum’s Feb. 2008 issue; and has been exhibited in numerous gallery and museum shows as well as being the subject of several in-depth essays.
Artist-filmmaker Randal Wilcox gives us a taste here of an unfinished portrait of the late photographer’s life and work.

Total running time of program = 66 minutes.

*Billy Miller is an artist-curator-and independent publisher based in Jersey City and New York City.