March 22nd – Stephanie Barber’s Jhana and the Rats of James Olds

March 22nd, 2014
@ Tiny Park Gallery (map)
$10 / ERC Pass / $3 with DAREDEVILS voucher!

Add to Calendar 03-22-2014 19:00:00 03-22-2014 21:00:00 11 Stephanie Barber's JHANA AND THE RATS OF JAMES OLDS Join us a for a special screening of videos from Jhana and the Rats of James Old! Stephanie Barber will be presenting each of the videos this evening. $10 / ERC Pass. Full details at 1101 Navasota St #2, Austin, TX 78702 Experimental Response Cinema false MM/DD/YYYY

This is the second of two screenings with Stephanie Barber. For DAREDEVILS, click here. DAREDEVILS attendees will receive a voucher for reduced admission for this program! (Regular price $10; $3 with DAREDEVILS voucher!.

Between June 25th and August 7th 2011 Stephanie Barber moved her studio into the Baltimore Museum of Art where she created a new video each day in a central gallery open to museum visitors. The goal of this project, entitled Jhana and the rats of James Olds or 31 days/31 videos, was to create a series of short, poetic videos in the playful and serious footprints of Oulipo games and daily meditations; creating one new video each day. The exhibit was both a constantly changing installation as well as a collaborative performance in which museum visitors were present as spectator and often creative partner.

Join us as Stephanie Barber presents a number of videos from this project!

tiny parkTiny Park presents contemporary art exhibitions, readings, performances, and film screenings by local and national artists. Tiny Park also collaborates with guest curators and outside organizations to present conceptually and aesthetically diverse works.


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Jhana and the Rats of James Olds

“I am thinking about the emphasis given to product over production, or display over creation. The piece is a video screening and an installation and a performance—a spiritual obeisance, an athletic braggadocio, a consideration of marxist theories of production (with the assembly line so lovingly lit). It is a funny game for me to play, an exercise in concentration, discipline and focus, an extension of my everyday. It is a greedy desire to squeeze a massive amount of work out of myself; a dare; a show I would like to see myself. It is like the backstory before the story, an inversion of the way we usually experience art work. A moving from the inside out. I was thinking how the interiors of museums are really only able to share what is almost the exterior of a piece of art work––and though this colliding of the interior and exterior is fuzzy––a step towards the interior of any art piece might be the making of that piece. I’m interested in the tedious and repetitive qualities of meditation and art work, the difference and similarities in these two practices. The practice and work of these practices––the dispelling of the so-seductive myth of artist as creating through a vague and florid explosion of inspiration––or perhaps interested in romanticizing the effort and challenging technical, logistical, practical elements of creation. The tedious as IT. Or one of the ITs. Like all pieces of art, this project is accordion in its intentions, shrinking and expanding upon use.”—Stephanie Barber

The works, now removed from the course of production, compile a known fascination with the philosophical implications of photographic images; a grappling with memory and the way it shapes our sense of time; an acute awareness of our mortality and a desire to engage the formal concepts of ‘narrative’ in unexpected ways. Hopefully they consider these concepts with humor, pathos and imagination.

30,000 DAYS
3.16 min / digital / sound / 2011
Truth telling, gazing and memory. Lying, forgetting and merging. The power we put into the images of ourselves is still the power we put into the images of ourselves. A character study and contemplation of the way images have created our sense of ourselves and our lives. The way images have changed the way we ‘remember’.

48sec / digital / silent / 2011
Many of the videos created during this performance/installation at the museum were directly inspired by the practice of meditation, the study of Buddhist doctrine and entheogenic exploration that were a tremendous part of my previous year. This little kitten, pet by this little feather, is so funny and a lot less than a joke for me.

1 min / digital / sound / 2011
This is a collaboration with the artist duo Smelling Salt Amusements (Heather Romney and Peter Redgrave) who came to the museum and worked with me all day from idea construction through planning and taping the animation to writing, playing, singing and recording the song and down to the final edit. We had a beautiful day of laughing and rushing each other, fretting and feeling triumphant. The piece bears much of their gentle and fairytale-like aesthetic and, like the most compelling fairytales, hovers uneasily between adorable and horrifying.

45 sec / digital / sound / 2011

“In this air and company we think about a time
driving through a desert on a bus a big blue bus
all together all alone
the desert is endless then until it ends

hidden here in all this warmth we try to make some sense
of our endless sense of steadfast faith in consequence
we don’t melt we stay whole
we have secret wants and needs deep in our soul

if we close our eyes real tight we fear we’ll float away
floating there a cloudy vaporous decay
we will cry we’ll make rain
there’s no part of life we’ll get to do again”

It was wonderful, while writing the words and beat for this song, that the poet Megan McShea came into the exhibit. I asked if she would write a verse and the first of the three is her generous offering. Later in the afternoon I finally found some men willing to sing what I’d written (no easy task, recording a song you’ve just learned in a public place). I imagine the men at the baths singing this song while they lovingly exfoliate each other’s backs.—Stephanie Barber

2.22 min / digital / sound / 2011
Made in collaboration with Jenny Graf Sheppard, the piece is a confounding history or review of a museum’s collection, its stories and value.

1.38 min / digital / sound / 2011
So many of these short poetic pieces from this very difficult and enjoyable project are aghast at the preciousness of a life so guaranteed to end.

2.07 min / digital / sound / 2011
A micro-fiction. “Story” is stripped to the tiniest suggestion as the image is reduced to cartoon with only the merest hint of ‘reality’ suggesting possible riches.

4.54 min / digital / sound / 2011
A few of the films in Jhana and the Rats of James Olds are created from footage I had shot and captured earlier and never done anything with. This piece is one of two built from footage I shot in several Mexican tourist towns. Sam Rockwell kills it, as do the Mariachis, the clouds and nameless gulls.

2.01 min / digital / sound / 2011
A series of sentences read by museum visitors inspired by, and paired with, a number of miniature Elizabethan portraits. Words and paintings––each seem equally able and unable to represent a life. The man who reads the line “I think constantly about my coming demise” came through the exhibition several times and participated in a few different pieces. He is big, young, strong and confident. I had him read the line many times before he got it just right. I think it was hard for him to imagine a worry of this sort.

1.04 min / digital / sound / 2011
The other video created from footage shot in Mexico. An architecture propelled by the romance of unexpected beauty.

3.17 min / digital / sound / 2011
I met a magician the night before and asked him to come to the museum and do some sleight of hand for my camera. After taping him and watching the footage I wrote this story ––a mystery of “nothing proportions”. The man who agreed to read it came in late in the afternoon. I was getting nervous about finishing this piece––so many people said no and I was not happy with the readings of the few who said yes. Then David Speck came in with a big round voice and full of questions and excitement about my project. I love his reading of this story. He was a theatre director in Seattle, visiting his children in Baltimore. His family sat so patiently and pleased while he recorded his takes for me.

2.30 min / digital / sound / 2011
SOME ANIMALS is a song created by the presence or absence of these images of animals. The patterning of sound sound sound repeating like the shapes which make a giraffe’s coat or the molecules of steam which flow from the bison’s broad nose as he exhales the scent of a wildflower.

3.07min / digital / sound / 2011
A super condensed re-edit of an Unsolved Mysteries episode where cut-aways become the stars and real and imagined Youtube comments mingle together and compete with the original content. The comments on Youtube are my favorite part of that video viewing experience. I love the way they flop so gracefully between cruel and shallow, deep and kind. Strange and wandering they construct dialogs and narratives along an incredibly modular path and expand the viewing of any video making the medium necessarily interactive.

1 min / digital / sound / 2011
It is not only that his names are near anagrams of each other or that his paintings of horses are paintings of motion reorganized to suggest docility and submission, earth toned to make the colored silks of riders pop. There is more about Degas that gives us pleasure. More than Degas I am continually fascinated by what passes for biography–a timeline; a portrait; a solemn or inane anecdote. These all seem equally plausible. Like all the pieces I made for Jhana and the Rats of James Olds this piece was read by a woman who came into the museum unaware that she would help me finish and become a part of my work that day.

36 sec / digital / sound / 2011
The solar eclipse of May 28 in 1900 is part of the Saros Cycle 126. It was, as all eclipses are, not a result of any more or less motion but an expected interruption along our usual path. A shading that reminds us that we are moving and that other celestial objects are moving also.

1.03 min / digital / sound / 2011
One half of a phone call and a few aural clues. Two images hastily descended upon and then hovered over momentarily. How much narrative is necessary to construct a narrative? Frances Klein read this short piece for me. Her daughter wheeled her up to the microphone. They were at the museum to look at the Matisse.

5.36 min / digital / sound / 2011
Two museum visitors agree to read from two plays I had brought to the museum that morning. The texts of Irish playwright Shelagh Delaney and the Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka are woven together. The result is a conversation which begins to crack under the weight of its construction.

2.11 / digital / sound / 2011
A party invitation is considered. The stars are consulted.

3.15 min / digital / sound / 2011
Bruce Nauman serves as avatar, guru, cursor to scrolling text on the nature of desire.

37 sec / digital / sound / 2011
The sparsest of narratives still brings forth a story. I have one which sprung forth after writing and animating this piece. Not before. This trick of pulling elements away, seeing what remains, seeing what moves powerfully over our imagination when it is given these barest clues, is a thought experiment I seem never to tire of.

1.13 min / digital / sound / 2011
Two friends speak about connections while the gulls traipse.

10:47 min / digital / sound / 2011
Made in collaboration with KimSu Theiler this is a recreation of James Whale’s “The Invisible Man”

3.24 min / digital / sound / 2011
This is the first piece I made for this exhibition. A text of interior design entrancement scrolls along a series of photographs of living rooms. It is a letter of apology and ends in a song celebrating “chinoiserie”.

22 sec / digital / sound / 2011
“The only way left to be radical in America is to be old”

4.40 min / digital / sound / 2011
A collection of titles from a honeymoon trip around the world in the early 1950’s. The poetics of the words assert themselves, diminish the images which are tethered, physically and as regards our understanding of place, to the names of the sights.

2.24 min / digital / sound / 2011
A woman watches a television show. The human brilliance for empathy is exemplified.

1.49 min / digital / sound / 2011
Making characters, making voices and imagining the soft grass beneath a tree’s shadow.

2.46 min / digital / sound / 2011
It is never clear just how difficult or easy a day will be.

49 min / digital / sound / 2011
689 museum visitors say “I love you” to the camera one after the other.

Stephanie Barber is an American writer and artist. She has created a poetic, conceptual and philosophical body of work in a variety of media. Many of her videos are concerned with the content, musicality and experiential qualities of language. They ferry viewers through philosophical inquiry with the unexpected oars of play, emotionalism, story, and humor.

Barber’s films and videos have has been screened nationally and internationally in solo and group shows at MOMA, NY, The Tate Modern, London; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Paris Cinematheque; The Walker Art Center, MN; MOCA Los Angeles, The Wexner Center for Art, OH, among other galleries, museums and festivals. Her videos are distributed by Video Data Bank and her films can be found at Canyon Cinema and Her essays, stories and poems have been published in books, magazines and online journals. DAREDEVILS is her first feature.