A video still from “Do Good” by Alison S.M. Kobayashi, screening as part of the Vtape show Hanging Out In Deephaven.
by Alison Lang
This past weekend, we had the privilege of checking out a reception of a very cool new video art show at Vtape called Hanging Out In Deephaven.
Vtape is an amazing non-profit, artist run distributor of video art, with a collection of over 5,000 titles by 1,000 artists. They also run exhibitions that you can go and check out for free during their visiting hours at their Toronto office (401 Richmond, Suite 452, Mon-Friday, 10am-5pm).
The show’s curator, artist/grad student/curator/librarian Amber Christensen, has brought together eight artists (seven of them female) whose works explore youth culture through a framework that is often associated with the Internet – in their daily work they use Youtube, GIFS, animation, Tumblr and more. In Christensen’s own words, the show was directly inspired by the works of artist Ann Hirsch (who also has a piece in the show) and 19th-century author Sarah Orne Jewett’s book Deephaven (which chronicles the ownership of freedom and self-discovery of two 24-year-old girls.)
Two of the works are animated, and one of them looks at growing up through spliced, slowed-down VHS footage and sound. It is a fascinating and sometimes delirious program that examines youth and identity in ways that are hilarious, absurd, and a little heartbreaking. Learn more about individual segments below, and please go visit Vtape and experience Hanging Out In Deephaven for yourself! It runs to December 19.
DO GOOD – Alison S.M. Kobayashi
Five little girls (played by Kobayashi herself) in various Brownie-esque uniforms explain their “make-your-own-badge” creations and generalized notions of “goodness.” In Christensen’s curatorial notes, she explains: “Brownie’s, Guides and Pathfinders is a fairly common aspect of middle-class Western
girlhood, and in DO GOOD, Alison addresses some of the problematic of this pervasive childhood activity…. In many ways, they assimilate children into
a colonial nation-building project – teaching us how to be obedient.”
MILEY – Olivia Simpson
Guelph undergraduate student Olivia Simpson created this video where she re-enacts an interview with Miley Cyrus on the Today show. I feel the less is said about this one, the better for you. Go see it!
Introduction to me dancing 2 – Ann Hirsch
Christensen describes Hirsch as one of the “performance-based artists who consciously perform adolescence.” This piece is part of Hirsch’s 2008-2009 Scandalishious project, where she adopted the persona of an 18-year-old girl named Caroline who posed/vlogged/danced on Youtube and posted it nearly every day. In introduction, as Hirsch/Caroline dances around her bedroom, the screen scrolls down to a variety of YouTube comments and reactions. It’s intended to make us think twice about our perceptions of young women in “camwhore” or “selfie” culture.
Meet Me At the Mall – Molly Soda
Two tweens (both played by Soda, with one framed ingeniously in the Mac PhotoBooth app’s “underwater” filter) try to cross paths at the mall in front of various name-brand stores and locations. It is really really funny, and the performance is intriguing. As Christensen says, “(Soda’s) adolescent personi are like matryoshka dolls.”
These two Toronto-based artists/animators might be most familiar to Broken Pencil readers. Both animated pieces, while stylistically different, take an approach to youthful vitality and memory that avoids nostalgia. Says Christensen: “In both the randomness of thought – whether spoken or unspoken – evoke a sense of newness and now-ness that relieves them from any sort of nostalgic underpinnings.”
Letters to an Internet Whore – Ann Hirsch
In another feature of Scandalishous, Hirsch/Christina answers letters from her “fans.” The results, as you might expect, are alternately creepy, sad and deeply amusing.
Untitled (edited performance 3) – Zakary Sandler and Joshua Sandler
The artist siblings re-enact shared bath times from their childhood. It’s uncomfortable, which is kind of the point:”Childhood bathing is often celebrated as moment of innocence and familial bonding, and through the awkwardness of this performance it draws attention to the waning acceptability of familial intimacy as we progress towards adulthood,” Christensen says.
100 Prince Charles Drive – Leslie Peters
Toronto-based artist Peters has taken VHS footage of herself as a 16-year-old and run it through an editing process. It’s been slowed-down and cut-up, with repeating clips and fragments of audio conversation that doesn’t synch with the lips of the people in frame. I loved this piece and was moved and amused by a long shot of the young Peters casually smoking a cigarette as Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” plays in the background. There is a defiance to this and other captured moments in this piece that I found amazingly reminiscent of the carefree (and careless) nature of teen girlhood, and yet the entire piece is completely unsentimental.