Poem: Videos at the Screening Room

“You must be an artist, only artists smoke in New York City anymore.”

The sculptor Robert Chambers is being projected onto the wall. He’s destroying a piano with vigor in some South Floridian place. It looks hot and there are trees.

“I’m an artist” she says, “I paint, I dance, I act, I write, I am versatile… and visceral” she winks.

The words are from a poem being read by Antonia Wright. In it, she’s recounting the utterances of an older artist she met in New York. Wright gave the poem to six fellow artists, so they could each make a video to accompany it. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the New School, and has a body of video works that combines performance and poetic gesture to produce a sort of experiential symbolism.

“Drink some beer”

Rona Yefman, an Israeli artist, places her casual characters in different positions in a living room. They look bored, in a semi-forlorn way, and at other times, cheerily so. Yefman appears, breaking the fourth wall, but you can’t really tell. One of them wears a horse-head.

“New York is so boring. Even Paris is old. I miss my French boyfriend. He could make me come twenty times in an afternoon—because he painted, painters can do that… passion.”

The six artist’s videos are projected synchronously, in different places in the room, as the audio of Wright reading the poem goes on in loops. The manifold viewpoints create different atmospheres for the poem, which on its own is fairly straightforward upon reading. But the brain is distracted by the visuals, causing different associations with what is being seen and what is being said. In a way, it diverts attention from the poem, but it also enriches it by creating new flourishes, syntheses, and interpretive screens.

“My husband was a poet; never marry a writer then—too much competition, it gets too complicated…”

Rollerblading raves and splashes of sunsets make up the aesthetic of Natasha Lopez de Victoria’s video. Daniel Joseph’s is a cell phone-like montage of someone’s face in a blurry room. And Matthu Placek shows a simple shot of Wright’s own profile, reading the poem.

“Anyways, they say Beijing is the new Paris, Berlin the new New York, Miami the place for artists.”

Projected on the floor is a pixelated image of the sea, rolling in lightly and shimmering abstractly, created by Justin Long. The scene is purely for pleasure: rather than activating heady thoughts about contradiction, authorship, and genre, the waves just keep coming, to the rhyme and rhythm of the poem.

“More beer?”


Poem: Videos, a multi-channel poetry video installation from Antonia Wright in collaboration with Robert Chambers, Daniel Joseph, Justin Long, Matthu Placek, Rona Yefman and Natasha Lopez De Victoria is on view at The Screening Room in Miami through August 1st, 2015.

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