Frieze Foundation

Frieze Film 2015

The artists participating in Frieze Film 2015 are: Charles Atlas with Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, Xavier Cha, Gery Georgieva and Thirteen Black Cats.

Charles Atlas (b.1949, USA)

Atlas has collaborated with New York choreographers Silas Riener and Rashaun Mitchell on a short video featuring dancers Cori Kresge and Hiroki Ichinose. Shot this summer at Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in upstate New York, the film is produced as an accompaniment to a long-form stereoscopic moving image work currently in development, this work will be made specifically for the televisual context.

New York-based artist Charles Atlas has created numerous works for stage, screen, museum, and television since the early 1970s, consistently pioneering the synthesis of technology and performance. A key-figure in the development of ‘media-dance’ in which performance is created directly for the camera, Atlas was videographer-in-residence with Merce Cunningham Dance Company for a decade, and continues to collaborate extensively with choreographers and performers, including Michael Clark, Yvonne Rainer, Diamanda Galás and Mika Tajima/New Humans, among many others. Recent exhibitions include the Gwangju Biennial (2014); The Contemporary, Austin (2014); Bloomberg SPACE, London (2013); De Hallen, Haarlem (2012) and the New Museum, New York (2011). He is artist in residence at EMPAC 2015-2016.

Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener are artists who work both collaboratively and separately on varied performance projects including site-specific installations, improvisational dances, traditional proscenium pieces, and highly crafted immersive experiences. After working together in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Mitchell and Riener began collaborating on dance projects in 2009. Continually pushing the boundaries of dance research, they have a keen interest in the way abstraction and representation coincide in the body. They are both drawn to space as an agent of perfomance and create dance in response to complex and active spatial environments, often using elements of fantasy to encourage innovation and affect environments. Their work is simultaneously playful, rigorous and diverse in its use of movement language, sonic forms and visual materials. It often includes visual art, literary and musical collaborators. Together they have amassed awards including multiple NY Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Princess Grace Awards. They are active in their community as educators, performers and agents of change.

Xavier Cha (b.1980, USA)

Cha has produced a series of short films capturing actors as they battle conflicting emotions, held in tense states of physical and psychological discord. While outwardly (and non-linguistically) expressing an extreme emotion, such as livid rage, a more subtle emotion emerges from beneath the surface. Both emotions function as foreign agents attempting to gain dominance, or hijack the vehicle of the actor’s facial expression and body. This new work continues Cha’s exploration of the body, individual, and self, and how these are contained, expressed, and mediated. Her performance-based works formalizes subjectivity within contemporary culture, isolating elements of production, perception, and communication into bare, abstract, and often illogical experience. abduct is produced in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. After its debut for Frieze Film, the work will be presented as an expanded installation, accompanied by live performances, for Cha’s upcoming solo exhibition (January 29 – May 8, 2016), organized by Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator.

Xavier Cha was born in Los Angeles and she currently lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions of her works have been held at the Whitney Mu- seum of American Art (2011); Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2010); and 47 Canal, New York (2012). Her performances have been presented at INOVA, Milwaukee, WI (2015); and New Museum, New York (2013). She has been included in group exhibitions at Kunstalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2014); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA (2012); The Kitchen, New York, NY (2015); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2009); and the 12 Biennale de Lyon (2013). In 2014, Cha was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts.

Gery Georgieva (b.1986, Bulgaria)

Georgieva’s film commission centres around the culture of Bulgarian chalga (pop-folk) nightclubs. Contrasting footage of her native country’s pop culture with other parallel environments, Georgieva is interested in how we configure and reconfigure our cultural identities.

Georgieva currently studies at Royal Academy Schools, London. Her work encompasses performance, multimedia installations and occasional musical collaborations (under the stage name Vera Modena). Georgieva has made work from a position of being empowered by her Bulgarian extraction. She often uses the immediacy of her own body to format and reformat images of different pop cultural vernaculars and consider construction of authenticity, taste and belonging. Recent shows include live performances and installations; ‘Solo Romantika’, Res. Enclave Deptford (2015), ‘OpenSource Contemporary Arts Festival’ (2015), London, ‘Premiums’, Royal Academy, London (2015), ‘Bijoux II’ (live), Spike Island, Bristol (2014), and ‘Autoethnography’ (live), Modern Art Oxford (2013) will produce a film commission centering around the culture of Bulgarian chalga (pop-folk) nightclubs. Contrast- ing footage of her native country’s pop culture with other parallel environments, Georgieva is interested in how we configure and reconfigure our cultural identities.

Thirteen Black Cats (f. 2015, USA)

Thirteen Black Cats will present 1/56, the first iteration of a multi-authored moving image work in which filmmakers and artists from around the world are invited to participate in making a serial film and video work inspired by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño’s novel Antwerp (2002), consisting of fifty-six chapters. 1/56 is produced in partnership with the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, curated by Nicola Lees.

Thirteen Black Cats is a research and production collective founded by Vic Brooks, Lucy Raven and Evan Calder Williams. Lucy Raven is an artist based in New York City. Her work has been included in exhibitions and screenings internationally including solo exhibitions at VOX, Montreal (2015); EMPAC, Troy, NY (2015); Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany, and Yerba Buena, San Francisco (2014). Other exhibitions include Hammer Projects, the Hammer Museum, LA (2013); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); and 11 Rooms, Manchester International Festival, Manchester (2011). She currently teaches at the Cooper Union School of Art and the School of Visual Arts in New York. Evan Calder Williams is a writer, theorist, and artist. He is the author of Combined, Uneven Apocalypse and Roman Letters, as well as two books forthcoming in 2015, Shard Cinema and Donkey Time. His writing has appeared in Film Quarterly, The New Inquiry, Historical Materialism, La Furia Umana, The Italianist, World Picture, and The Third Rail, and he is a contributing editor to Viewpoint Magazine. He has presented films, performance, and audio works at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2014); Images Festival, Toronto (2014); the Montreal International Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (2014); Artists Space, New York (2013); Tramway, Glasgow (2012) and the Whitney Museum, New York (2012). He is a 2015 artist-in-residence at ISSUE Project Room and teaches at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies. Vic Brooks is a curator and producer based in Troy, NY. As curator of time- based visual art at EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, recent and forthcoming artists’ commissions include Andros Zins-Browne & Karthik Pandian; Charles Atlas; Silas Riener + Rashaun Mitchell; Isabelle Pauwels; Lucy Raven; Rosa Barba and Tarek Atoui among others. She was curator-in-residence at LUX during autumn 2014 and in 2013 initiated The Jaffe Colloquia, an ongoing series of seminars centered around the conditions of, and perspectives on, time-based arts. Prior to EMPAC, Brooks founded the itinerant curatorial platform The Island with Andrew Bonacina and co-curated Serpentine Gallery’s artist-cinema program with Nicola Lees.

Launched in 2007, Frieze Film is a series of new films commissioned from established and emerging artists and premiered annually as part of Frieze Projects, Frieze London’s non-profit curated programme.

This year, Frieze Film is curated by Nicola Lees and supported by Channel 4’s Random Acts, who will also broadcast the commissions.

Victoria Brooks on Charles Atlas
A consistent pioneer of the synthesis of technology and performance, Charles Atlas has worked at the intersection of the moving image, visual art and choreography for over four decades. His work has been seminal in defining a vivid cinematic language for articulating dance on screen. He deliberately eschews the documentary model of dance films through an active, mobile camera that mediates our experience of movement in space. In his films, the camera is not just witness but also dancer, creating an image wholly inseparable from the dance it records.

Atlas’ collaborators Silas Riener and Rashaun Mitchell are equally driven by the potential of choreography to reach beyond the limits of its inherent language. They engage dancers’ bodies as a lens through which to see how social relations—such as the accumulation of training and environmental context—build up in a body through time.

In this new moving image work, made specifically for television, the camera moves with the dancers as a dense fog swirls at their feet. Framing their duet, it delicately switches positions from observer to part- icipant. The camera’s mobile viewpoint traces a liminal space beyond a theatrical language, into the cinematic realm and the other-worldly dimensions of the screen.

Charles Atlas’ Frieze Film has been produced in collaboration with Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is an accompaniment to a long-form stereoscopic film currently in development by Atlas, Mitchell and Riener at the center.

Victoria Brooks, Curator, Time Based Visual Art, The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), New York.


Rose Bouthillier on Xavier Cha

Xavier Cha’s performance-based works explore the body, affect and transmission. She directs actors or participants through focused, controlled scenarios, generating intense expressions. Language is broken down or eliminated. Technology dis- and re-orientates. Emptiness strains, fracturing a sense of ego. Unsettling and at times absurd, these encounters reveal the body as an enigmatic conduit, a malleable corporeal/psycho/social system. Sharply attuned to the ways in which the body is watched and conveyed, Cha also stresses how mediating frames—cameras, screens, and stages—shape behaviours and refine gesture.

For Frieze Film, Cha presents abduct, a new work that captures actors as they are overtaken by intense emotions. Isolated and starkly lit, the men and women are laid bare, vulnerable to the visceral phenomena passing through them. One extreme state, such as livid rage, overtakes the face while another feeling slowly begins to emerge; lips gently curl upwards, quivering to suppress laughter. These emotions function as foreign agents attempting to gain dominance, or hijack the vehicle of the actor’s facial expressions and body. These unruly, frantic and incoherent states are alarming; such physical and psychological discord careens towards breakdown, a dissolution.

abduct is produced in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. After its debut for Frieze Film, the work will be presented as an expanded installation, accompanied by live performances, for Cha’s forthcoming solo exhibition ( January 29 – May 8, 2016).

Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator and Publications Manager MOCA Cleveland


Amy Sherlock on Gery Georgieva
The nightclub in the basement of the Hotel Romantika Princess in Svilengrad, Bulgaria, the backdrop to Gery Georgieva’s Balkan Idol, is a baroque hallucination of leatherette banquettes and gold detailing. A poorly reproduced Pietro da Cortona fresco adorns the ceiling—the Dukes of Medici as refracted through the lens of Carmela Soprano. Clubs like Romantika are typically populated by burly men watching scantily clad women dance to chalga, an electropop update of traditional Balkan, Roma and Middle Eastern beats, playing out their own versions of US hip-hop’s ganstas and hos.

Georgieva, who was born in the Black Sea resort town of Varna, repeatedly stages herself as a pop-folk diva. Her performances and films explore the seductiveness of rap music’s garbled rendition of the American Dream for a nation still shaky on its post-Communist feet, as well as broader questions of aspiration, authenticity and economies of desire in globalized consumer culture. In a second strand of Balkan Idol, Georgieva performs in the derelict, spaceship-like Buzludzha Monument — a Soviet-era tribute to Bulgarian socialism. The mosaic faces of the movement’s founding fathers have been graffitied over and chiseled off— seeming more distant and anachronistic than the far older frescoes of Da Cortona and the immense private patronage these symbolize.

A poster child of capitalist meritocracy, the diva is individuated to the paradoxical extreme of becoming a brand. He or she (usually she) inspires both the fantasy of self-possession and a desire to possess. Interestingly, given Bulgaria’s noted problems with homophobia and anti-Roma sentiment, one of biggest chalga stars, Asiz, is a gay, transvestite gypsy. The chalga club is a space of willful self-exoticization and, perhaps, also momentary self-realization. Asiz knows he’s not Beyoncé but it’s a delicious illusion— and it doesn’t mean the tunes aren’t catchy.

Amy Sherlock
Reviews Editor, frieze


Laura McLean-Ferris on Thirteen Black Cats

1/56 (2015) is the first film in the series 56, an evolving, multi-authored moving image work organised by Thirteen Black Cats, a recently formed research and production collective, founded by curator and producer Victoria Brooks, artist Lucy Raven, and writer and artist Evan Calder Williams. With 56, Thirteen Black Cats have created an episodic film structure, which is loosely inspired by Roberto Bolaño’s experimental novella, Antwerp (1980). Bolaño’s book consists of 56 brief, fragmentary chapters and resists easy plot summary; broken threads of narrative are instead articulated by certain spaces, characters, crimes and interactions, which reappear throughout the chapters. 1/56 was produced in partnership with the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, 2015, curated by Nicola Lees, and was shot on location in Slovenia. Following this first chapter, Thirteen Black Cats will allocate single chapters sequentially to different artists and filmmakers to use as source material for short films made where they live and work. 56 will therefore become a freestanding omnibus film (with 56 directors) produced in cities and landscapes around the world, including those where previous chapters are shown. In this regard, 56 is also a touring work that treats spaces of exhibition as sites of collaboration and production, working to eventually fold these multiple spaces and their histories into a composite work.


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