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Peepshow 2011

Squeaky Wheel’s annual art-stravaganza is this weekend at Dnipro

Squeaky Wheel’s annual fundraiser is one of the wildest evenings out that this city has to offer: More than 40 installations and performances and the audiences they attract will transform the Dnipro Ukrainian Center into a shimmering, flashing, roaring amalgam of expression and transgression and digression and…

And aynway, It takes place Saturday, February 26, 8pm-1am, at the Dnipro (562 Genesee Street). Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door ($15 for students with valid ID. Advance tickets can be had at Cafe Taza, Sweetness 7, Talking Leaves, Squeaky Wheel, and online at 18 and over.

AV spoke to six of the dozens of participating artists to find out what they had in store for us.

Jordan Dalton and Katy Brown

Environmental installation

Have you been involved with Squeaky Wheel before?

While we have attended a few openings and performances at Squeaky Wheel, this is our first time doing work for a Squeaky Wheel event. They run amazing programs and are an incredibly valuable asset to Buffalo’s cultural community.

Can you explain the concept behind your piece for Peepshow?

Beyond the Multitude: Sewer Study #2 is the latest in a series of work focused around Buffalo’s buried waterways and hidden aquatic ecologies. While most of the works to date have focused on Scajaquada Creek, this one takes a bit of a wider view, exploring the complexities of Buffalo’s sewer system.

How is your work impacted by taking part in a group exhibition?

We are thrilled to be contributing to a complicated, lively evening. As we already operate in a collaborative fashion, considering our work in the context of a group show only makes the conceptual framing more interesting!

Among the goals you list for your work are “to educate, demonstrate, and activate.” Is an art show conducive to those goals?

Few people outside of a particular realm of not-for-profit activism and environmental engineering have any idea of the details of where their “household deposits” go after flushing the toilet. However, no one wants to be lectured about sanitary sewers and combined sewage overflows. By pairing a serious subject matter with a playful and interactive setting, we hope to engage a unique audience with a complex system with which they are all intimately involved. If we can get a handful of people talking about thinking about sewage and our city’s waterways, we will have made significant steps toward addressing the largest ongoing threat to our region’s waterways: sewage.

Anna Scime

Video installation

Have you been involved with Squeaky Wheel before?

I have long been a fan of Squeaky Wheel and have on occasion (since about 2007) screened my work at various Squeaky Wheel hosted events. I became more involved after taking a media curation course taught by Dorothea Braemer through UB’s Department of Media Study, where I’m an adjunct professor and MFA candidate. This fall I was nominated and joined the board of directors.

I was initially attracted to Squeaky Wheel not only because of the unique programing they offer—Chick Strand and Harmony Korine to name a few recent favorites—or the relatively inexpensive media arts workshops, but because of the warm and welcoming atmosphere this truly grassroots organization provides.

Can you explain the concept behind your piece for Peepshow?

The general description reads: “Narrative potential quickly becomes music in sacré bleu. It’s holy constipation instead of catharsis—a pairing of the crass with the sublime (nature with god) and the awkward with the seductive as a means of contemplating the continuity and fluidity between them. It ends as it begins (essentially going nowhere), and though it is loaded with symbolism, there are rises in intensity and what appear at times to be characters and motivations—it never reaches climax. As a myth of a culture of fiction, it is unabashedly dependent upon the viewer to author its meaning.

Starring Diane Gaidry, Neil Garvey, and Linda Stein, sacré bleu is the second of the four videos that comprise the Dnipro Shorts.

The Dnipro Shorts are the conceptual offspring of the Bridge Project, an international cinematic art initiative created by Richard Foreman and Sophie Haviland. As With “Total Theater,” of which it is borne, the total film of the absurd seeks to make the methods behind its madness plainly visible by negotiating a state of clumsy continuity where the invisible world hidden behind concave glass borders is heard, seen, and even felt.”

Can you tell us more about the Buffalo Bridge Project?

In 2004, Richard and Sophie initiated the Bridge Project to promote international art exchange between countries around the world through workshops, symposiums, theater productions, visual art, performance, and multimedia events. Since 2006, the Ontological-Hysteric productions have incorporated Bridge workshop footage during various live performances—Zomboid! (2006), Wake Up Mr. Sleepy! Your Unconscious Mind Is Dead! (2007) & Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland (2008) to name a few. Richard has also been editing additional stand-alone pieces.

During production stages, I was a member of the crew comprised completely of Media Study grads and led by veteran filmmaker, Media Study professor and long-time collaborator of Richard’s, Elliot Caplan. Specifically, I was a camera operator and props manager. Richard and Sophie wrote the monologues, and local actors, along with students from the UB’s Theater and Media Study departments, performed for the cameras. Several Media Study grads then received grants to produce tangential, independently motivated shorts from the material generated and shot with Richard and Sophie, and I was lucky enough to be among them.

John Fink

Video installation

Can you explain the concept behind your piece for Peepshow?

My installation Malfunction is a three-channel video instillation: Lacavore (starring Allie Funk), Homosocial Bonding (starring Josh Parkins and James Boatwright), and Hermit (starring Jon Zelasko). Each sequence mediates on an unraveling narrative, constructed by the individual viewer as they take in each interconnected narrative structure—the narrative itself begins to malfunction in the sense it is a narrative without function.

How is your work impacted by taking part in a group exhibition?

Working within a theme is challenging and liberating all at once—I enjoy being given a prompt and reverse-engineering a work containing my own sensibilities and interest, particularly in creating cinematic space and challenging the limits of cinematic language.

How does the medium of video limit/expand your expression when compared to other foms of art?

Working in installation allows a filmmaker such as myself to play with duration—what can take 90 minutes in a feature film can be done in 30 seconds as an installation exists within its own context, it’s not forced to behave. This is an avenue for working out abstract ideas that don’t necessarily lend themselves to a single-channel vision.

Josh Parkins

Video and performance installation

Can you explain the concept behind your piece for Peepshow?

My piece runs with the concept of the interconnectedness of relationships and personality. My performer, covered in mirrors, has her own image projected onto her which is then reflected onto the audience. In this way fragments of her “self” literally intermingle with the audience. At the same time her own physical form is disrupted by refracting light. It becomes hard to look at her but easy to interact with the reflections of her self. She and the audience participate within a tenuous mass of fragmented parts of her identity held together by the relationship of audience to dancer and dancer to self.

How is your work impacted by taking part in a group exhibition?

I personally enjoy group shows. I like the way that one can make connections between disparate works and craft their own narrative path through the space as a whole. It is an opportunity to see how different creative minds all approach the theme of the show while bringing their own unique perspective. I find that large group shows like Peepshow have a certain energy in the crowd and the artists that you don’t always achieve in a single artist’s show.

How does the medium of video limit/expand your expression when compared to other foms of art?

My background is sculpture, so I’ve always approached film and video as a sculptural object. I enjoy the temporality of the medium as well as the ability to play with the pop cultural issues that are present in a mass medium such as video. I try to make videos and performances that are lush and playful and can be enjoyed on a high conceptual level but also on a more visceral level that is accessible by anyone.

Part of my desire with this performance is that my dancer would have just as much fun being a human disco ball as the audience would have engaging with it in anyway they deem appropriate.

Caitlin Cass

Roving performance

Have you been involved with Squeaky Wheel before?

This is the first time I’ve been personally involved with a Squeaky Wheel event, but all of my experiences as an attendee of their events have been first class.

Can you explain the concept behind your piece for Peepshow?

As far as I’m concerned, the world can be split easily into two categories: Ideas and Things. Ideas have a tendency to pull you in a million different directions and subdivide until the world is so abstracted and confused that everything becomes meaningless. Things tether you to corporeal reality and beg you to pay attention to the finite until you get so focused that you forget to look at anything else. Isolated, both Ideas and Things can be debilitating. Together, Ideas and Things build bridges, paint masterpieces, and eat fried ice cream. With Tabula Emphaticus I plan to perpetuate the dialogue between Ideas and Things. Carrying a tray filled with philosophic concepts (printed on small cards in a tasteful serif font) and common household objects (think oats, rubber bands, egg beaters) I will approach the Peepshow crowd and engage them in serious conversation. Together we will try to make sense of what the tray has given: Funnels will shed light on logic, neckties will help us unpack the notion of universal truth. This project is all about making absurd over generalization and gallant logical fallacies. We’ll work toward unpacking the absurd: on confronting it, acknowledging it, embracing it. We will see a glimpse, the glory of the process; We will realize that truth does not necessitate genius, that it can instead spill out of the mundane, the silly, the mediocre.

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