Existing is a heavy task. Breathe in and the muscles rise. Yellow is a light colour. The bird flies, as if weightless. The saddest song echos. The eyelids close. Breathe out and the muscles fall. The air, through it we pass.
WARNING: This video contains footage of gun violence/war from 20:37 to 21:20 and physical aggression/bullying from 23:19 to 23:48. Viewer discretion is advised.
program 12 of 12
March 19 – March 31
Vote for your favourite experimental film or video art piece between March 19 and the last day of the screening, March 31. Rules.
Sites of excavation//
Sites of ruin
A family story untold, (re)told,
told twice over with every corner turned
Simulation, waiting waiting waiting then yellow
There is resistance there,
There is aggression there
There is a registration, its a process
Violence is monotone
Ghostly styrofoam and shoelaces
Bubbling sounds, carving echoes
Rippled asleep until we make a google search
Google = solitude song
Obvious extinction// virtual existence
‘Existing is a heavy task’
Then kinship/then leaves/then voices/then foreheads
Micro moss chests clanging on the surface
A relational language and a relational border
Burning more with breath
Yet a blood desert landscape is the final aftermath.
Nia Fekri submitted a written response, above, to accompany this program. We saw Nia’s beautiful work, “Mother’s Apricot Compote”, in program eleven, which just passed.
For this edition we invited selected artists to respond to one of the 12 programs in the medium of their choice. Thank you to all the participants, we are endlessly humbled by your contribution.
Sandjak – Chantal Partamian
8:20 · Armenia/Lebanon/Canada · 2021
In 1939, following an agreement signed by France, the Alexandretta Sandjak in Syria was annexed to Turkey. Thousands of Armenians, including my grandmother, flee Alexandretta for Aleppo or Beirut. In the fall of 1939, a small number moved inland to an already established “quarantine” zone near Burj Hammoud, which at the time was farmland. The camp takes the name of their homeland, Sandjak.
Navigating three types of images, shot in three different periods, the film explores the poetics of haunting through compositions of images that create an entanglement between the past and the present. An intimate but detached voice, a little stoic even, speaking of countless losses. The repeated affirmation of belonging to a place that is no longer.
Context: Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the camp gradually expanded and its population diversified. The increasing urbanization of cities in Lebanon has led to the eradication of the camp. The Armenian diaspora in Lebanon has made no significant attempt to prevent the destruction of the camp or to understand or eradicate the material and social conditions that have ensured that a camp persists for at least 60 years. Families in the camp reported receiving between $ 3,000 and $ 5,000 compensation from the municipality.
Simulation of Mr. Yellow – Mahan Khomamipour
16:45 · Syria/Iran · 2019
Abu Zokur is the name of an old man who always wears yellow and wanders around the
wreckage of Aleppo’s war-torn city every day and waits at a certain place. Not only his clothes but also his mobile phone, watch, refrigerator, home walls, and all his other living things are yellow.
“Simulation of Mr. Yellow” is a love story about an old man in yellow, who lives alone in
war-torn city of Aleppo. “Why do people still live in war-torn cities?” That’s a question I used to ask myself a lot before travelling to Syria. During my search I watched so many videos on the net about the war in Syria, most of them were about warriors, one of the political sides, or the refugee camp problem. I got more and more confused by searching, because each side only blamed the other side for the suffering of the people, but none of them really cared about the people at all. Although in those videos I could see the people who were still living in war-torn cities. I used to pause the videos to look at people’s faces, and made up my own versions of their life story, never being able to understand their purpose of living in war-torn cities. When I couldn’t find any specific answer for my question, I decided to see and to show the part of life in Syria which the media usually doesn’t cover. The life of a person who is not in charge of anything at war, a person who doesn’t care about the sides of war, a person who is not important to anyone. And I met Mr. Yellow in Aleppo.
Immersion- Dareen Abbas
10:00 · Syria/Belgium · 2020
“Immersion” is an experimental audio-visual work that combines two videos. In a landscape submerged with water, someone is holding a flashlight. Later she discovers that the building blocks that are supposed to build houses are dispersed in the water. In another video channel, the same building blocks are forming intersecting circles close to the structure of a clock.
Dawn Chorus – Salvador Miranda
6:18 · Mexico/Canada · 2020
A video essay on the extinction of the Kauai O’o bird, a songbird native to the Hawaiian island. The short film takes us through its very last recorded song, and its continued digital life in online media.
plant portals: breath – Nicky Chue
3:47 · Germany/UK · 2020
“plant portals: breath” is an experimental meditation on the unspoken history many queer and trans people of colour carry daily, connecting bumblebees, colonial trauma, alternate universes and the complicated concept of “rest” to ask: Can nature heal us?
Shot entirely on an iPhone, the film is intentional in imagining what is possible, and manifests a reality rooted in mindfulness.
Exercises in Being Close to You: A story for the Arctic Refuge – Krista Davis
15:00 · USA/Canada · 2020
“Exercises for Being Close to You” is an experimental documentary that follows a group of hikers through Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The team is in search of the Porcupine Caribou herd in hopes of collecting stories that could help push back on oil exploration and drilling on the caribou’s birthing grounds. The narrator, admitting to a perverse desire to be close to everything, wants nothing more than to spoon a caribou. As the film culminates in anticipation of the “money shot”, the audience is pushed to evaluate its expectations of nature films. Meanwhile, the expedition team is left to weigh intention with strategy when environmental filmmaking mirrors tactics of the extraction economy they are fighting against. The film uses documentary footage of the two-week expedition intercut with experimental vignettes — exercises, to rethink our relationship to the land and animals we hope to protect.
Hag’s Taper – Alana Bartol
3:19 · Canada · 2020
The many names of mullein include hag’s taper, Jupiter’s rod, flannel leaf, velvet plant, felt-wort, tinder plant, candlewick plant, witch’s candle, lady’s foxglove, candlewick plant, torches, cowboy toilet paper, and more. Brought by European settlers to what is now known as Canada over 250 years ago, mullein is native to parts of Europe and Asia. The introduced plant was valued for its medicinal abilities and its use as a fish poison. Today, it is considered a noxious weed in so-called Alberta. Thriving in disturbed areas including former coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, mullein is tied to legacies of settler-colonization and ongoing colonial violence and environmental degradation. From ancient to medieval times, the end of the plant’s stalks was used as torches in Europe. Parts of the plant have also been used for candle and/or lamp wicks. Mullein was used to light gatherings, funerals, and ceremonies. For those working in the dark, including mining prospectors, it provided light in caverns and tunnels. One can imagine witches and healers using mullein as medicine and light source, while accusers may have also made use of the plant, burning witches at the stake. This work is part of a new series of artworks exploring the past, present, and future of coal mining in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta.
Earthfall – Simone Hooymans
6:32 · Norway · 2019
“Earthfall” is an experimental animation where artist Simone Hooymans explores the transforming powers of crisis. An avalanche is threatening to crush everything in its way, but from the chaos and destruction emerges a glimpse of a new beginning: Unknown, yet hopeful? RAS is made of hand-made ink drawings and coloration brought to life by digital 3D animation technology. The film is a symbolic exploration of current global movements and challenges, yet it also suggests an inner journey and a passage through the emotional body to explore how a crisis can transform you as a human being.