An Education in Equality: Intimate Explorations of Diversity in America

An Education in Equality: Intimate Explorations of Diversity in America

An Education in Equality is a documentary short film created by documentarians Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson as an Op-Doc video for The New York Times. Filmed over a period of 13 years, this short film presents a coming-of-age story of an African-American boy, Idris, who attends The Dalton School, a prestigious private school in Manhattan. The story of Idris and one of his close friends became the acclaimed feature-length documentary American Promise.

What began as an exploration of diversity in New York’s elite private-school world grew into a story that touches on the much larger themes of identity, race and class in American society. An Education in Equality is not only a powerful illustration of unintended racial alienation, but also a sprawling testament to parental devotion and the natural will of children, an intimate, epic American documentary unlike anything that’s come before it.

Read more about An Education in Equality in The New York Times here.

An Education in Equality: Intimate Explorations of Diversity in America

Musical Poetry of the Dark Unconscious: Scott Walker’s “Epizootics!”

Musical Poetry of the Dark Unconscious: Scott Walker’s “Epizootics!”

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
-Albert Camus

Epizootics! is the new ten-minute short film/music video recently premiered by avant-garde musical mastermind Scott Walker, a track from his forthcoming album Bish Bosch. Walker has accomplished the near impossible, showcasing an album that’s more ambitious, experimental and surreal than anything he’s created before. This first taste from his upcoming album is filled with dramatic artistry and shows promise that Bish Bosch will be considered one of the most thought-provoking albums released in years.

For those not familiar with Scott Walker’s work, Walker has been described as one of the greatest living avant-garde artists, with hardly any other American musician having had greater influence upon rock music, while at the same time remaining almost completely unknown to his countrymen. Walker grew up in Texas, New York City and Southern California, but he became a celebrity in England during the mid-1960s as part of the Walker Brothers band. The Walker Brothers was a vocal trio, which wed soaring vocal harmonies, lush soundtrack arrangements and a patently somber worldview into a uniquely theatrical package.

Scott Walker’s voice has been described as perhaps the most beautiful male non-soul voice of that era, and an increasingly free-thinking “Beat” attitude was at the core of the group’s appeal. Although the Walker Brothers became huge in Europe, Scott Walker’s eccentricity cast a dark cloud over the band’s public image. Scott began to write increasingly complicated interlaced music, and its sense of bleakness was intensified by his mix of translated Jacques Brel tunes with distinctly arty and pained original numbers. By 1969, his works were failing to appear on music charts at all.

An increasingly elusive Scott Walker slowly withdrew from public view. His voice began to lose some of its former pop-music sense of majesty, a reflection of his new interest in the experimental synth-driven avant-garde, which he helped revolutionize to major critical success, but only minor public attention. Walker seemed to vanish, while artists as diverse as David Bowie, Brian Eno, Julian Cope, Bryan Ferry, Ultravox and Marc Almond became fiercely ardent supporters of his unique body of work, citing him as a primary influence on their careers. Gale Harold (the actor in Queer as Folk) served as an Associate Producer, along with David Bowie as Executive Producer, of the acclaimed 2006 documentary about the influential artistic vision of Walker’s experimental musical work, Scott Walker: 30th Century Man.

Musical Poetry of the Dark Unconscious: Scott Walker’s “Epizootics!”

Scott Walker: 30th Century Man

Scott Walker is celebrated as an influential musical visionary by a roster of superstars, including Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn, David Bowie and Brian Eno. The enigmatic and notoriously shy former pop idol is the subject of Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, the revealing 2006 documentary by Stephen Kijak. Walker was born in Ohio and sang with Fabian on television as a teenager. However. after achieving immense popular fame in England as the lead singer of the boy band The Walker Brothers, he has lived mostly in seclusion, while creating avant-garde compositions and releasing critically acclaimed, idiosyncratic albums.

Scott Walker: 30th Century Man

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Flawed: That’s What Makes Life Interesting!

Flawed: That’s What Makes Life Interesting!

Flawed is an impressive personal 12-min. stop-motion animated story told in gorgeous drawings done in black ink and watercolor by Canadian filmmaker Andrea Dorfman. The film has been acclaimed on the festival circuit for a couple of years, winning at the Palm Springs Film Festival, and playing at HotDocs and SilverDocs. It has been one of the jewels of the National Film Board‘s impressive animation catalog, but only now has become available on the web.

Flawed tells a story that is serious, heart-warming yet also heart-breaking, in which Dorfman examines the conflicted feelings that arise when she strikes up a romance with a plastic surgeon. Through an intensely confessional narrative, she discovers that the secret to getting the man to accept her is to learn how to accept herself. The drawings help to keep the story light and visually compelling, while presenting Dorfman’s philosophical take on self-esteem, growing-up, relationships, personal identity and even cosmetic surgery.

Flawed: That’s What Makes Life Interesting!

(Best Viewed in Full-Screen Mode)

(Unfortunately, film rights are for the USA only and thus presently geo-blocked for International audiences)

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The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box is a fascinating short film by English illustrator and filmmaker Temujin Doran, which was named a finalist in the 2011 Nokia Shorts Video Contest. Thousands of videos from around the world were submitted and judged over a four month period, and from those seven films were selected as finalists. The seven finalists were screened and judged at the 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Temujin’s short film has been described rather simply as the story of one boy’s escapades with a large cardboard box, which he uses as a gateway to a multitude of fantasy adventures. The film is, of course, much more than that; it is no accident that Temujin cited the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip as the main inspiration for his film. As with the major underlying theme of Calvin and Hobbes, this film can be viewed as a contemporary narrative about one young boy’s uses of a transitional object in his play and illusions as explorations of ideas about identity and the self. Ultimately, the film becomes a perfect combination of humor and melancholy loss.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

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Performance in Photography Since 1960: An Audience of One

Matthew Barney, Drawing Restraint 9: Shimenawa, 2005

William Pope, Foraging (The Air Itself/Dark Version), 1995

Laurel Nakadate, Lucky Tiger #151, 2009

Ai Weiwei, Study of Perspective: Eiffel Tower, 1995–2003

Performance in Photography Since 1960: An Audience of One

Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 presents a wide range of images focusing on performance art that were expressly made for the artist’s camera, which was recently on exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Performance art is usually experienced live, but what documents it and ensures its enduring life is, above all, photography. Yet photography plays a constitutive role, not merely a documentary one, when the performance is staged expressly for the camera (often in the absence of an audience), and the images that result are recordings of an event but also autonomous works of art. The pictures in this exhibition exemplify the complex and varied uses artists have devised for photography in the field of performance art since the 1960s.

Many artists have experimented with the camera to test the physical and psychological limits of the body. Other artists have enlisted the camera as an accomplice in experiments with identity, suggesting the plasticity or mutability of identity itself. They have engaged the production of the self as positional rather than fixed and often played with shifting ideas of gender and/or sexual identity. The exhibition also includes both off-the-cuff and staged performative gestures of political dissent, as well as explorations of the dualities of consumerism and dispossession.

Staging Action demonstrates the complex ways in which photography, confronting us with its ability to both freeze and extend a moment in time, pushes against the grain of mere documentation to create performance art as a conceptual exercise that can be appreciated in the absence of a performing body. Often the technology of the camera is able to open up new space for performance, isolating exhibitionist, arresting, spectacular and just plain wacky moments. For every strenuous performance in this collection that challenges physical and psychological limits, there’s also a very playful one.

Viewers can read more about this exhibition in The New York Times here.

Tono Stano’s Performance Photography: Sense

Slide Show: Performance in Photography Since 1960

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Tripling: Playing Dress-Up to Disrupt Identity Politics

The Compatibilty Quiz

Paint by Number

Triplet Crime

Miss

Table for Three

Black and White

Triplet Pregnancy, Too

Tripling: Playing Dress-Up to Disrupt Identity Politics

Triiibe is a performance collective that originated in 2006 when performance artists and identical triplets, Alicia, Kelly and Sara Casilio joined creative forces with noted documentary photographer, Cary Wolinsky. Together, Triiibe creates political and social commentary through art using performance, video and photography. They explore diverse ideas together and their collective voice allows them to reach a broad audience. The images their exhibitions are carefully constructed observations on identity and the politics of identity. The works ask questions such as: How are we the same? How are we different? What is feminine? What is masculine? What role goes gender play in politics?

In 2009, Triiibe had their first solo exhibition of photographs at Gallery Kayafas. They unveiled a solo exhibition in Boston University’s 11,000-square-foot gallery 808 in the fall of 2010. Their current show at DODGEgallery is Triiibe’s New York debut.

Triiibe: In Search of Eden

Triiibe: Bailout and Bonuses

Slide Show: Tripling/Playing Dress-Up to Disrupt Identity Politics

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

Fear/Love is  a new short film directed by the veteran English street artist and urban videographer Rob Chiu, aka The Ronin.  The film was made in collaboration with an urban youth program called the I Care Revolution, which encompasses a multitude of talented artists working together to empower young people to make a difference in the lives of others.

Set against the harsh backdrop of inner city London, Fear/Love interweaves the lives of three adolescents who never really meet each other, but whose actions intersect and interpenetrate as they struggle with who they are, who they want to be and who they are becoming.  Their lives enact the central quest for the ever-evasive heuristic sense of identity, whether that means not knowing your identity, being ashamed of who you are, trying to become someone else or looking for acceptance.

Their intertwining journeys take them down paths mixing visions of potential identity with yearnings for love, wishes for intimacy that are inevitably thwarted by their fears of others.  Ultimately, decadent overindulgence gives rise to self-destructive acts, leading up to a horrible event.

Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

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