Aspect/Ratio is pleased to present a screening by Chicago based curator Ruslana Lichtzier mid.east.mid.west.
The videos in mid.east.mid.west bridge between two cultural and geo-political poles – the Middle East and the Ameri- can midwest. Featuring six video artists, the screening clashes the different explorations of the landscapes the artists surrounded by. Earl Elowsky, Thomas Comerford, and Carrie Schneider focus on the midwest, while Jumana Manna, Elham Rokni and Tamar Hirschfeld examine the Middle East.
Inspired by Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising,1963, BLESSED BLESSED OBLIVION, 2010 by Jumana Manna presents an intimate and provocative portrait of the male thug culture in East Jerusalem, shot in barbershops, autoshops and body building centers. Both enchanted and criticizing, the work exhibits the complexities of the nowadays Palestin- ian masculinity. Tamar Hirschfeld’s parody series (2013 – present) features a grotesque character of the Sephardic Jew – the Schwartze – traveling between Israel, Palestine, and Austria.Through Schwartze’s brutal and ignorant behaviour, Hirschfield exposes the nonsensical nature of the national Israeli pathos. Drive!, 2008 and Untitled (Mattress), 2010, by Elham Rokni, reconstruct and reenacts traumatic events both from the artist’ personal biography and the regional history. In what at first seems serene road videos, Rokni plants possibilities for unexplained abductions and accidents. Over what seemed to be a mundane landscape, hovers, after watching Rorkni’s video, unseen threats, and unknown conse- quences.
In a different mundane landscape Earl Elowsky captures, in Untitled, 2014, with an intimate gaze, the midwestern hunt- ing rituals and their relationship to nature, masculinity and domesticity. The Indian Boundary Line, 2010, by Thomas Comerford brings us back to the city, and follows, in a meditative historical documentation, the Rogers Avenue in Chi- cago, while tracing its history back to the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis boundary between the United States and Indian Territory. Carrie Schneider concludes the screening by placing us in the local surreal. Burning House, 2010 – 2011 by Carrie Schneider is a result of a year long project, in it the artist traveled twelve times to northern Wisconsin and built a wooden house on a small island, then set it on fire while filming it. This portending video lures seduction of destruction. It awakens the suppressed ghost of visions, which will persist to hover over the actual landscapes long after the end of the show.