A walk on the wild side

By GREG COOK  |  February 16, 2010

Take Katarzyna Kozyra's 20-minute live-action video "Summertale." Once upon a time, five dwarf ladies lived in a cottage in the woods. One morning, they found a giant mushroom, which hatched a gentleman in a suit, a hussy, and a lady in white. The white lady helped the dwarves in their garden. The man sang. The hussy was revealed to be a man when s/he peed standing up and made a mess on the floor. So the dwarves chopped the drag queen and the singing man to bits with axes. The white lady was tied to a chair and forced to watch. Later, she watched the dwarves tend their garden. Then the dwarves turned into giant mushrooms. The end. Is this about gender? Is it about new experiments in perception? Is it a lavishly produced gothic fairy tale in which cross-dressing is just part of the vivid show(wo)manship?

Can we talk for a minute about whether galleries are better places for video art than movie theaters or viewing at home? The running time of video exhibitions prohibits most viewers from taking it all in. Also, art-world style is to present videos in endlessly repeating loops. Invariably, I arrive somewhere in the middle and spend a long time piecing together what's going on. When it ends, I watch the beginning part that I missed. Or I catch a bit, leave, come back, catch a bit more. The result is that most videos are experienced as Pulp Fiction–like puzzles. Whether that's the intention or not, video art has become mainly about experimental chronology. I'm just sayin'.

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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