The critical blog romanovgrave.com/studio-visits/lenore-malen recently posted an essay on Scenes From Paradise: a series of 3 channel videos and a film (2016). Their essay ranged widely from politics to film and expands greatly on previously written posts on this site. A still from the film is shown here. (The web version of the essay (see link above) has numerous pictures that illuminate the text.)
New York City, Central Park. Four animals, a horse, a goat, a lion and perhaps a Dalmatian, make their way as a team, seeming to rappel without ropes, across a rocky outcrop of 450 million year old schist rock. The blocking of the figures evokes the dance of death scene from Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. The pinstripe skyscrapers in rear bring to mind Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. The setting, Central Park, deploys, tragically, Olmsted’s culture performed as nature. We would do well to remember that Bergman staged his opus as a chess game between a returning crusader and the figure of Death as the bubonic plague ravaged Europe; that Hitchcock invented for his film a compass point that simply does not exist, while, with Olmstead, nature is nothing more than an echo of an anthropomorphized projection. As we sift and connect these dots, as we do for the above the very messy calculus we all know this will not turn out well. An end game is in at hand.
Approached in medias res in the studio this is an initial take on Lenore Malen’s current project, a multi layered and multi part film project titled Scenes From Paradise. Screened for us by the artist in her studio, provisionally arranged as a three-monitor installation, the work unconsciously, unknowingly, came to resemble the three altars of a place of Catholic worship. (Maybe prayer can save us, but we have our doubts.) The entire project has evolved over the past two and a half years out of Malen’s chance discovery, as she browsed the web, of a medieval manuscript illumination. The artist of that illumination, The Maître Francois, worked in the service of The Duke of Nemours, producing the rarified knowledge of the less literate, but in its own way knowledge filled, 15th century. Continue Reading
Shot on location in Ghent, New York, August 20-23, 2015 using 3 Sony A7 cameras. A rough cut, uncolored. Two characters, Adam and Eve, naked and unashamed and like time travelers find themselves on a sheep farm in upstate New York. They learn to be human going about it naively, polluting the ground with small hard candy wrappers. They interact with the sheep. They react to objects, phantom limbs, binoculars, headsets, crutches, ipads, they sit and talk. They read from scientific papers. They name the animals and they die. This project is the culmination of a decades long exploration of utopian dreams, touching on the wish for a perfect society and a world without suffering, while knowing the folly of every attaining such perfection, which is perfectly expressed in the paradox of the biblical earthly utopia Eden. With Jessica Weinstein as Eve and Tim Lueke as Adam. Camera operators Jessie English (DOP), Eric Feigenbaum and Ilana Rein. Sound Pete Moses, Production Assistant Fernando Do Campo, Props Alona Weiss, Costumes Ingrid Zhuang, on site in Ghent, New York. With immense gratitude to Dan Devine and Lawre Stone and their flock. Produced, written, and directed by Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony.
I was invited to speak and present my work at a conference in
Geneva titled “Approaching Posthumanism and The Posthuman” — June 4th, 5th, 6th 2015. Unforgettable talks including a keynote by Carey Wolfe on Extinction where he broadly ranged from poetics to biopolitics, history and the archive. Celan/Wallace Stevens/ James Fenimore Cooper/Deleuze/Derrida — beautifully written and delivered and sobering, all around the work of contemporary artists on the extinct California Condor and the passenger pigeon and including the work of Michael Pestel. Also presenting were Carole Sweeney on Houellebecq and the medievalist JJ Cohen http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/ on Posthuman Environs: Fnorteth and much more.
Some stills from a three- channel video installation, Scenes from Paradise, that’s currently in production. We’re planning on 6 scenes altogether, filmed in Central Park, a rooftop in Brooklyn, in the studio, and elsewhere. All were inspired by a medieval manuscript illumination I discovered on the internet (see posts below) and explore representations of animals and humans as seen through the eyes of a single creature. Read Boris Groys’s comments in e-flux journal’s issue 45: “Rather, the artwork remains present in the future. And it is precisely this anticipated future presence of art that guarantees its influence on the future, its chance to shape the future… Art shapes the future by its own prolonged presence.” and my response in a Brooklyn Rail essay The Unconscious, (also linked below).
I’m very pleased to be participating in FOODshed: Agriculture and Art in Action a excellent show curated by Amy Lipton at CR10, a showcase for media and visual art founded by Francine Hunter McGivern in Livingston, NY, just south of Hudson. With Joan Bankemper/Black Meadow Barn, EcoArtTech/Lelia Nadir & Cary Peppermint, Joy Garnett (The Bee Kingdom) Habitat for Artists Collective (Simon Draper, Aidan Draper, Michael Asbill, Carmen Acuna, Faheen Haider, Jessica Poser, Elyssa Willadsen and Green Up, Natalie Jeremijenko, Peter Nadin/Old Field Farm, Andrea Reynosa, Jenna Spevack, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Elaine Tin Nyo, Tattfoo Tanh and Linda Weintraub.
Here are some pictures from the installation and the opening: