The Captivity Show

Curated by Ben Russell

In Conjunction with Gallery 400

The slow and steady slog of winter is painting black lines on your grey suit, ringing your windows with jailbar icicles, and making you shudder at the one-hour of sunlight you’ll have to endure to get from covered indoor space to covered indoor space. Your cellphone ring is a cell door clang and, I know – this a pretty awkward metaphor, for sure. For while the gloom of your February everyday may very well have all the trappings of our captive capitalist existence, at least you’re free to wander the dark and icy streets in all manners of undress – something that can’t be said for the incarcerated, much less the stars of our second Gallery 400 experimental film/video program. Presented in conjunction with Gallery 400’s “Captive Audience” (on view 1/16-2/24), we’ve got Men Tied To Each Other, A Boy in A Dunk Tank, Video Game Escapism, Sad Lemurs, A Jailbreak Hodown, Chuck E Cheese Psychedelia, London Housing Projects, Un Cárcel de Mexico, and A Naked Screaming Man. Captivating, without a doubt…

FEATURING: Three Legged by John Wood & John Harrison (3:00, video, 2001), Dipping Sauce by Luther Price (10:00, 16mm, 2005), And We All Shine On by Michael Robinson (7:00, 16mm, 2006), The Magic Kingdom by Jim Trainor (7:00, 16mm, 2004), Hillbilly Hoose-Gow feat. Tom Emerson (3:00, 16mm, 1950), Trauma Victim by Rob Todd (17:00, 16mm, 2003), Everyday Bad Dream by Fred Worden (6:00, DV, 2006), Block by Emily Richardson (11:00, 16mm, 2006), Mexican Jail Footage by Gordon Ball (18:00, 16mm, 1980), Exercise #3 by Eva Dransholt (3:10, DV, 2005)

TRT 85:00


Three Legged by John Wood & John Harrison (3:00, video, 2001) Chris Burden meets Boris Becker by way of Chan and Eng as two bound artists desperately struggle to dodge an unpredictable tennis ball machine.

Dipping Sauce by Luther Price (10:00, 16mm, 2005) “Epileptic static strain in to grays of mechanical fetish tube socks and kinetic clown S and M cascading objects caress and fondle.”

And We All Shine On by Michael Robinson (7:00, 16mm, 2006) ‘An ill wind is transmitting through the lonely night, its signals spreading myth and deception along its murky path. Conjuring a vision of a post-apocalyptic paradise, this unworldly broadcast reveals its hidden demons via layered landscapes and karaoke, singing the dangers of mediated spirituality.’ Michael Robinson

The Magic Kingdom by Jim Trainor (7:00, 16mm, 2004) This documentary “about the lemurs, monkeys and lesser apes of many lands with animated diagrams to aid our understanding of them,” is also a melancholy ode to comforts of home and the safety of cages. Jim Trainor hardly invites you to look into the eyes of a lemur and see yourself staring back, but you may ask who painted your jungle and whether they’ll mind you touching it up with a different shade of green. Sublime and heartbreaking. – Spencer Parsons

Hillbilly Hoose-Gow feat. Tom Emerson (3:00, 16mm, 1950) Featuring Tom Emerson in a hillbilly jail break song spoof.

Trauma Victim by Rob Todd (17:00, 16mm, 2003) For over a year I’ve been working on the subject of the Death Penalty and its significance to our culture. This piece has grown out of the footage that I’ve shot for that film, and some of the concepts I’ve been juggling as the imagery has been cultivated. In fact I initially put this film together with the intention of using the visual components in sequence to later serve as the fifth section of the larger work.

Travelling by car from prison to prison allowed me to see America as many of us have come to experience it: as tourists who can lay no legitimate claim to the space we pretend to inhabit. The inertia inherent to mechanical transport served to reinforce a not uncommon sense of the experience of travel as an entirely mediated activity, a contemporary paradigm for humanity.

Everyday Bad Dream by Fred Worden (6:00, DV, 2006) Like picking shards of broken glass out of pile carpet on a hangover morning.

Block by Emily Richardson (11:00, 16mm, 2006) From day to night. A portrait of an apartment building in London, the inside and outside of which are investigated and revealed.

Mexican Jail Footage by Gordon Ball (18:00, 16mm, 1980) Paranoid surreptitious in-jail camera held in this prisoner’s hands documents daily events and posturings of 25 gringos (and Mexican jailmates) arrested at Puerto Vallarta 1968 without charge. Was there Mexico, DF – Washington, DC collusion behind this round-up from Yelapa ferry boats, private town houses and palm-roofed wall-less jungle huts? It took place during national polarization (of youth culture, official culture) in US; older US tourists were shocked to find more new generation they thought they’d left behind, and official Mexico was already paranoid in the face of coming Olympics (police would shoot 108 people) six months later. Narration’s a dense web of comedy, horror and Kafkaesque grotesque behind a succession of raw sunlit images of comely youths imprisoned, male and female.

Exercise #3 by Eva Drangsholt (3:10, DV, 2005) Exercise #3 is both a humorous and alarming take on the experiences sometimes associated with being observed while one just wants to escape.