False Histories

False Histories
Friday January 15th, 2016
7pm Doors, 7:30 show [real time not punk time]
Pay What You Can [$8 suggested donation]
Buntport Theater [717 N Lipan Street, Denver]

In a time when information about the past is (for most of us) easily accessible, there is also at the same time an overwhelming sense of misconception and half truths about how things once were. False Histories investigates ways media artists investigate the history of lands (borders, wars), consciously manufactured narratives, memory lapses, and folklore. Through these ideas the pliability of the past comes to the forefront and we can begin to address how one might see multiple iterations of the past. Constructed truths and accepted fallacies build on top of one another becoming part of our culture and propagating our legacy.

With works by: Felix Kalmenson (Canada), Karl Lind (America), Nahed Mansour (Canada), Nik Nerburn (America), Anri Sala (France), and Stina Wirfelt (Scotland).

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The GR8 TASK REMAINING B4 US – Karl Lind, 2.45mins, 2011
Summary: A time traveling animatronic Abe Lincoln appears at a Sparks Nevada sports mall to re-deliver the Gettysburg Address and adds a sense of universal urgency to an old tract.

Intervista (Finding the Words) – Anri Sala,
25min, 1998
Anri Sala, the young son of the former head of the Communist Youth Alliance discovers a twenty-year-old 16mm film, the record of an interview with his mother. But the film is silent, the soundtrack lost with time along with the idealism that it captured. His mother no longer remembers what was said. Intent on finding the lost soundtrack, Anri seeks out anyone who might remember, including the producers of the film, but must eventually take the film to lip readers at a school for the deaf. Finally confronting his mother with her younger self, past and present collide to offer a moving reflection on the chaos of personal and national history.

Satellite Telefizyoon – nahed mansour, 5mins, 2013

Satellite Telefizyoon takes all of its visual content from a popular 1987 Egyptian television quiz show titled Hawl El Alam (Around the World). In the show the iconic singer/ actress Sherihan would appropriate the costume, song, and dialect of an unnamed country and conclude by asking her audience to guess which country she was representing.

Focusing on the positioning of Egyptian women in relationship to their European, South American, Asian, and African sisters, Sherihan is made to quotes academics Laura Bier, Timothy Mitchell, and Anthony Shay through falsified subtitles to provide a brief history of Egyptian conceptions of modernity from the 1950-80’s. Parallel to the contrast between academic texts and 1980’s kitsch imagery, the juxtaposition of early products of cultural globalization with post-colonial and non-aligned rhetoric creates a visual dialogue addressing Egyptian Independence, neo-colonialism, and post-modernity.

Satellite Telefizyoon (the phonetic translation of Satellite ‘Television’ in Arabic) highlights the willingness of Egyptian media to engage, reproduce, and distribute stereotypical depictions of other cultures in order to highlight the state’s modernizing project in the 1980’s.

A Line is Not a Line  – Felix Kalmenson, 11mins, 2015
A Line is Not a Line turns a critical eyes towards the initial conceit of the 2015 exhibition Picturing the Americas at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada, namely that ‘we are all connected’ and examines the nature of visualizing landscapes as a technology of colonialism. Using Google Streetview and Earth as a contemporary analog to these technologies of power, A Line is Not a Line unpacks how we visualize and understand borders and bordering in global economies and ecologies marked by migration, extraction, and exploitation. The work will interrogate how this technology, like colonial landscape painting before it, reduces landscapes through a process of cultural and bodily erasure, flattening a multiplicity of subjectivities under the totalizing subjectivity of the colonial gaze.

Monuments – Stina Wirfelt, 7mins, 2008

Comprising a series of photographs shot by the artist, ‘Monuments’ documents a series of truncated, unfinished roads and abandoned highway ramps around Glasgow. In the fictional city of Metropolis, the deadpan voiceover describes these unused thoroughfares as remnants of ‘…a fallen paradise that remained standing – a constant reminder of what could have been’. Wirfelt casts the towering yet destitute landmarks as referents to an increasingly forgotten, or perhaps more succinctly, criticised modernist ideal, prevalent reminders of the New Towns that were never built and neighbourhoods that were not raised. The narration is is cringingly sincere, however. ‘Monuments’ is motivated by straightforward interplay between the dialogue and visual clues in the photographs. This approach enables a functional deceit; the viewer is encouraged to believe the loosely woven audio-diary and its historical inaccuracies about the area portrayed.

In The Shadow of Paul Bunyan – Nik Nerburn, 24.55mins, 2014

A personal history of the famous lumberjack and his big blue ox, traced alongside the geography of the US-Dakota War of 1862. While he’s usually thought of as the hero in Minnesota’s creation story, there are also the unresolved histories of conquest and conflict that exist in Paul Bunyan’s shadow. This is the hidden part of Paul Bunyan – the unresolved legacy of Minnesota’s founding violence, concealed by the reassuring myth of the jolly logger. Filmmaker Nik Nerburn criss-crosses both the real and imagined vistas of these competing folklores, from Paul’s humble origins as a joke bandied around lumbercamps, as well as his life as an enduring advertising icon, to the frozen landscapes of the largest mass execution in US history. In the Shadow of Paul Bunyan is a deeply personal expedition into the hidden corners of the landscapes we call Minnesota.