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This year, the Modern Image Makers Association (MIMA) and the Contemporary Music Events Company have collaborated in producing what will be the largest survey of contemporary electronic art, installation and film for 1994. This unique biennial event will also include seminars, public lectures and presentations by festival guests, and the publication (both electronically and in hard copy) of a comprehensive festival catalogue.

Extending over eleven days, the aim of this year’s programs, as with the previous four events, will be “to foster and promote Australian film, video and electronic media related art; by providing broader public access to, and critical awareness of this work in an international context.” To achieve this comparison, a number of programs of works by international artists will be run in conjunction with satellite exhibitions and programs.

Previous Experimenta events have profiled contemporary trends in cinema, the electronic arts, performance, and the visual arts, but have also included a substantial retrospective component. Experimenta director Peter Handsaker feels that this year’s event will have a more contemporary orientation.

“We don’t have such a large retrospective component this time around. There’s a larger international component, a broader survey of what’s going on in other major centres, including those centres that haven’t been represented that often—to also cover topics and themes—from the UK, South Asia and Japan for example—that represent the margin—or the minority within a dominant culture.”

Modern Image Makers Association are also working with the Contemporary Music Events Company to produce an extensive survey of Australian sound and time-based arts.

“Rather than trying to work on it ourselves—as we might have done previously— we’ve found the most appropriate organisation to put together a proposal and a budget to enable us to produce what I think will be a much stronger program for 1994. It’s also a model that applies to the international component. What we’ve done is identified appropriate curators overseas—gone to them and asked them to put programs together.”

One of this year’s international guests is Ian Rashid, who has curated a number of programs of film, video and installation for the Linden Gallery and the State Film Theatre. Beyond Destination (Beyond Destiny), is an exhibition of film, video and installation by 12 artists of South Asian origin (living and working in the UK, Canada and Australia) and includes work by Sutapa Biswas, Tanya Syed, Alnoor Dewshi and Emil Goh. “The artists in this program”, comments Rashid, “resist being among the exiled, of the diaspora, of always referring back to a mythical or real homeland.”

Alnoor Dewshi’s Latifah and Ilimi’s Nomadic Uncle provides no resolution to the drift between margin and centre, as the city of London is refracted into multiple landscapes. “The women are not able to map it – nor can they fix their identity against any bulletin board of history. They just continue on against an ever shifting backdrop, exchanging breezy wisdoms and checking out the territory.”

Uneasy Tales of Desire, also curated by Rashid, surveys recent British Gay and Lesbian works (film and video). David Farringdon’s controversial Continental Holiday (1992) uses found footage to explore the multiple worlds of gay tourism, while Derek Cerith Wyth Evans (a contemporary of Derek Jarman) explores desire in vision (through state of the art film and video techniques) in Degrees of Blindness (1988).

Curated by Misuzu Nishimura, Inside and Outside the Cocoon is a contemporary survey of films by Japanese women. Harumi Ichise’s Walking Man (1993) uses a Proustian trope of involuntary memory (the tying of shoe-laces) to produce a nightmarish evocation of what discrimination feels like. “I grew up in downtown Osaka”, Ichise reveals. “Every Summer, the BON dance festival was held at a nearby shopping area. Everybody danced there – gays, yakuza, storekeepers and so on. Although I loved the energy of this town, the word ‘discrimination’ has never left my mind.” Asako Sumi (whose film M for Menstruation also features in the program), will be a special guest for this year’s event.

Peter Mudie (from the School of Architecture and Fine Arts of WA) has curated a program of films from the Austrian Filmmakers Cooperative spanning a thirty year period. Adrian Marc’s Orange (1962-64) is described as a random associative montage film that circulates around the idea of an orange. Valie Export is one of the finest representatives of feminist aktionism. Her work has evolved from “body at risk” performances of the 1960s into complex cinematic investigations of how the female body (as an assemblage of partial objects) is manipulated by the media and institutional discourses. Two of her films, …Remote… Remote…(1973) and Syntagma (1993) have been included in the program.

The Canadian film-maker, Mike Hoolboom will present two programs of experimental films dealing with sexuality and gender. The first, The Agony of Arousal, is a retrospective of his own work (from 1990-1993), including recent films like Shiteater, Frank’s Cock, and One Plus One (all from 1993). Hoolboom’s second program, Archaeologies of Gender, surveys recent Canadian experimental film which explore “masculine” and “feminine” identity.

Also included in this year’s programs is a survey of contemporary French experimental film (curated by Yann Beauvais), a selection of works of contemporary computer animation from the 1993-94 Prix Arts Electronica, plus the Australian premiere of two new works by Stan Brakhage, one of the great vernacular romantics of American avant-garde cinema of the fifties and sixties.

An exhibition at the Access Gallery (in The National Gallery of Victoria) will include installation and time-based work by Joanne Lewis, Michalea French, Greg Ferris, Laurens Tan and Natasha Dwyer. Greg Ferris’s Kinder-Und Hausmarchern (the title comes from the Brothers Grimm) continues an ongoing project of interactive video narratives which allow the reader/player to redirect the flow of the narrative along branches of their own choosing. Laurens Tan’s Lost Codes (Test Pattern X), refurbishes motifs within the SBS test pattern as screens upon which other images may be configured. Natasha Dwyer’s computer interactive, Choose Your Own Aphrodisiac, is based on the game of stone, scissors and paper, a critical parody of the system of symbolic exchange governing women as consumers.

Extra Terrestrial is an exhibition and forum to be held at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (from the 11th to the 26th November) and includes works by Ross Harley, Emil Goh and Jon McCormack. Ross Harley’s Digital Garden is described as “an ongoing computer graphic project which focuses on the changing relations between natural and artificial environments…The Digital Garden will imitate the patterns of biological and electronic growth in real-time, allowing the visitor to produce an ever-changing variety of life forms in a garden that is at once familiar and bizarre.”

Emil Goh’s Elements is a “sensory soup” of wind (generated by eight industrial fans), sound, and the visual sensation of fire (produced by a 3 x 5 m video projection). For this installation, the “spectator” will be situated so as to piece together a feeling for the social drama of the riot. Writer Jane Goodall (whose recently published Artaud and the Gnostic Drama is reviewed on page 21 of RealTime) will speak, along with other artists, at a special forum to be held on Saturday 12 November from 2-5 pm in the Erwin Rado Theatre.

Experimenta - a major exposition of film, video and electronic media art
will be held in Melbourne, 17 – 27 November, 1994.

Sydney Intermedia Network will screen Ian Rashid’s curated program Uneasy Tales of Desire at 2 pm, Saturday November 12 and Mike Hoolboom’s program The Agony of Arousal at 2 pm, Saturday December 3. Both screenings will be at the Domain Theatre, Art Gallery of NSW.

RealTime issue #3 Oct-Nov 1994 pg. 9

© Colin Hood; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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