Retrospective of Deborah Stratman: In the Middle of the Landscape of Surveillance
Look under the cover of your everyday routine, stop and look around you. Where are you, who are you, where do you belong and why are you in a hurry? These are essential questions to which there are no easy answers. Learn the art of asking in the visually diverse film essays and experiments by multimedia artist Deborah Stratman. Watch the filmmaker’s first online retrospective from April 13 to 19 at DAFilms.com for free!
American artist Deborah Stratman easily escapes any labels. Her work straddles the media of film, photography as sculpture, drawing and installation. You can come across her name at the famous Rotterdam IFF, at Sundance as well as at renowned galleries such as MoMA and Centre Pompidou. Regardless of the medium she currently works in, the artist imbues the material with a visually distinctive or even experimental language which allows her to discover hidden communication patterns, the workings of social systems and the traces of the circulation of power in seemingly banal images. The artist’s first world online retrospective includes a selection of twelve films representing a summary of her work from the late 1990s up to the present. The selection includes features as well as short films.
Stratman‘s latest audiovisual work is represented by HACKED CIRCUIT (2014) in which the filmmaker uses a long tracking of the film camera to capture the paranoid play between the power of the system and man who appears under its constant surveillance. The explicit use of shots from Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” hyperbolically completes the motive of secret surveillance which has become a latent content of human unconsciousness in the modern society.
The social control of consciousness as well as unconsciousness has also become the main subject of the short film play VILLAGE, SILENCED (2012) in which the filmmaker makes use of an already existing footage again. This time, however, she reaches deeper into history, choosing the Welsh propaganda film “The Silent Village” by Humphrey Jennings which re-enacts the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and the tragic story of the devastated village of Lidice in a Welsh mining town. By means of editing, repetition and variation, Stratman creates an analytical pattern of power and a basic vocabulary of gestures and moves symbolizing this power. The memory of historical events which gave rise to the idea of shared national identity is set in contemporary modern American culture in O’ER THE LAND (2009) filmed on 16mm camera. In the film, the image of American patriotism is transformed into a sharp criticism of the culture of weapons, war and technological power which have gradually contributed to the emptying of the term of freedom.
Stratman’s early films do not leave the outlined terrain of the interest in the contemporary social landscape corrugated by the power relations of surveillance. The shallow borders between the personal and the public, the intimate and the shared, the uniquely experienced and the system-monitored is captured in the film IN ORDER NOT TO BE HERE (2002) which explores the specific organization of city suburbs. Filmed exclusively at night, the suburbs seem like isolated islands; just like in the film journey KINGS OF THE SKY (2004). The journey leads to the Uyghur ethnic community that is cut off from the rest of the world and that has been fighting the Chinese rule for centuries. Seamlessly blending the rich Uyghur mythology and Stratman’s poetic visual approach, the film does not lose sight of the parallel between the stories of the courageous heroes of the past and the contemporary political effort of the community to gain its autonomy.
Move to the other side of the camera and get a unique experience of a critical perspective! Watch the first world online retrospective of Deborah Stratman from April 13 to 19 at DAFilms.com for free!
Films for the event
Hacked Circuit (Orig.) / 2014 / United States / 15 min
A single-shot, choreographed portrait of the Foley process, revealing multiple layers of fabrication and imposition. The circular camera path moves us inside and back out of a Foley stage in Burbank, CA. While portraying sound artists at work, typically invisible support mechanisms of filmmaking are exposed, as are, by extension and quotation, governmental violations of individual privacy...
O'er the Land (Orig.) / 2009 / United States / 52 min
A meditation on the milieu of elevated threat addressing national identity, gun culture, wilderness, consumption, patriotism and the possibility of personal transcendence. Of particular interest are the ways Americans have come to understand freedom and the increasingly technological reiterations of manifest destiny...
Ray's Birds (Orig.) / 2010 / United States / 7 min
Ray Lowden keeps seventy-two large birds of prey, five deer and some wallabies at his place in Northumberland, England. He’s had ten days off in twelve years and loves what he does. The film is a little homage to his variously coy, imperious, curious, stubborn and comic raptor menagerie.
...These Blazeing Starrs! (Orig.) / 2011 / United States / 14 min
Since comets have been recorded, they’ve augured disaster: catastrophe, messiahs, upheaval and end times. A short film about these meteoric ice-cored fireballs and their historic ties to divination that combines imagery of 15th-18th century European broadsides with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory footage...
Kings of the Sky (Orig.) / 2004 / United States / 68 min
An experimental documentary about resistance, balance and fame, Kings of the Sky follows tightrope artist Adil Hoxur as he and his troupe tour China’s Taklamakan desert amongst the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim people seeking religious and political autonomy. The film gracefully hovers between travelogue, ethnographic visual poetry, and an advocacy video for preserving a traditional art form...
Kuyenda N'kubvina (Orig.) / 2010 / United States / 40 min
Relatively little export, cultural or otherwise, reaches the west from southeastern Africa. Spurred by curiosity about how knowledge of place spreads, Kuyenda N’kubvina looks at how thought and culture propagate in Malawi...
In Order Not To Be Here (Orig.) / 2002 / United States / 34 min
An uncompromising look at the ways privacy, safety, convenience and surveillance determine our environment. Shot entirely at night, the film confronts the hermetic nature of white-collar communities, dissecting the fear behind contemporary suburban design...
Village, silenced (Orig.) / 2012 / United States / 7 min
A re-working of Humphrey Jennings' seminal 36-minute 1943 docudrama "The Silent Village," wherein Welsh coal miners from the village of Cwmgiedd collectively re-enact the Nazi invasion and annihilation of the resisting Czech mining village of Lidice...