When Phil first suggested that I should go look at Dara Birnbaum I lost the first half of the sentence and for several sentences I thought he was talking about my tutor Ana. I guess it was a happy mistake because it made me really interested. When I realized my mistake I didn’t really care, it sounded like something worth seeing.
mentioned that Birnbaum was on the vanguard of videoart, I’m kinda glad
that he did, because it was helpful to have that in mind when I looked
at the older pieces up stairs. I mean, the one called “attack piece” was
really cool, but then there was a lot of different variations on “doing
weird shit in front of the camera” which just bored me. The “Attack
piece” one was interesting, it consisted of two screens facing each
other in a small room. It alternated between showing the same scenes
from a garden picnic slightly out of sync and showing video on one and
photos on the other. The video and photos corresponded to each other in
that the photos was of a man filming something while running around and
the video was of a woman running around with a camera taking pictures.
It was fun and playful, but also had something of an afterthought to it.
was also two other video pieces, I liked the one with interviews with
people on the boat outside Ellis island, the one with the confusing
narrative I might’ve liked if I’d felt better and had more time to look
there was the new piece. “Arabesque” It consisted of four screens
showing series of video in a loop. Some of the time all four screens
showed footage of girls playing the piano. On the far right screen this
was sometimes cut with scenes from a play where a couple agonized about
their child leaving home or something, old television style. On the
screen next to it the piano scenes were cut with text waxing
melancholicaly about loosing ones ability to do what one loves most.
who actually read the little booklet told me that the couple in the old
television style drama was ment to portray Robert Schumann and Clara
Schumann. The melancholic snippets were from Clara Schumanns diary. And
the music played was alternately a piece by Robert and a piece by Clara.
Maybe I’d be more able to tell any qualitative difference between the
two compositions if I had studied music, but as an ignorant I found it
difficult to understand why one piece could lead to a man being praised
for centuries, while the other didn’t bring any recognition for a woman.
A woman who the leaflet informs us, actually supported her family of
eight children by playing while Robert was plagued by depressions.
“Arabesque” is a haunting piece if you read the information or not, but
if you do read the little leaflet it might give you some pause too.
After all, there might be many more women out there who did astounding
things, but who were never recorded because their contribution to
culture was deemed irrelevant.
Sadly Saturday was the last day of the exhibition, but I'm sure there must be something online if anybody is interested in checking it out.