Juan Downey & Kristin Lucas
The work I saw at EAI was just an introduction to some great artists. I can’t say that what I saw was representative of their careers, or whether the videos were remnants of ideas left behind a long time ago… but I think it’s worth sharing that the work I saw has stayed with me.
Juan Downey’s Hard Times and Culture: Part One, Vienna fin-de-siecle (1990) and Las Meninas (Maids of Honor) (1975) are works worth spending time with. If I could go back to EAI, I would watch these videos a few more times. Juan Downey’s videos are epic. They really set a new standard for me, in terms of artists who reinterpret history and do a lot of research in addition to making lots of work for videos. They can be quite dramatic and funny at the same time. They were perfectly paced and I thought the tone felt perfectly authoritative. I only wish I could find samples to share with you!
Kristin’ Lucas’ video Smaller and Easier to Handle I liked for the opposite reasons as Downey’s work. It was really sweet and really low tech. Here is the EAI description of the work:
Marked by Lucas’ characteristically incisive take on techno-culture, Smaller and Easier to Handle presents a hallucinatory set-piece in which a nuclear family assumes the roles of a mutant operating theater, with surgeon, assistants, and a half-human, half-animal patient. Employing outrageous costumes, surveillance footage, and a propulsive, multi-layered soundtrack, Lucas crafts a spooky parable for our fast-forward society. She writes: “Visions of future — as presented through mass media and adopted by the populus — have shaped perceptions of reality, inspired hope and optimism about the future, and fueled the capitalist drive to conquer the unknown, regardless of the consequences of our actions.”
This description makes the video seem so much more sinister than it was. The children were really adorable. During one child’s yearly surgery–where she transforms into another animal–her sibling medical assistant is asked whether or not a sponge’s absorbency is effected by its color. He quickly responds that it does, and that a green sponge does the best job. After the surgery the new animal reports that she enjoys her surgeries because every year she gets to be something new. I’m eager to get beyond how cute everything was to consider what the video comments on, of course– but perhaps its sweetness is what made me go there willingly.