A nearly 40-year span brackets the filmmakers’ shared interest in pageantry and policing. Iconic Americana is both celebrated and critically framed as it plays out on our nation’s lawns, forests and streets.
Program runtime: 1 hour 7 minutes
O’er the Land by Deborah Stratman, USA, 2009, 51 minutes, 16mm
A meditation on the milieu of elevated threat addressing national identity, gun culture, wilderness, consumption, patriotism and the possibility of personal transcendence. Of particular interest are the ways Americans have come to understand freedom and the increasingly technological reiterations of manifest destiny.
This film is concerned with the sudden, simple, thorough ways that events can separate us from the system of things, and place us in a kind of limbo. Like when we fall. Or cross a border. Or get shot. Or saved. The film forces together culturally acceptable icons of heroic national tradition with the suggestion of unacceptable historical consequences, so that seemingly benign locations become zones of moral angst.
“…captures, as the artist herself put it, ‘iconic representations of how nationhood is defined.’ That nation would be the USA, home of French and Indian War reenactments in Kokomo, Indiana; high school football games in [Columbus, Ohio]; machine-gun festivals; and border policing—both to the south and the north, with a long take of Niagara Falls having a near-hypnotic effect after so much firepower. Yet whereas borders are vigilantly guarded in Stratman’s work, the Images Festival excels by doing precisely the opposite…” – Melissa Anderson, ARTFORUM
Love It / Leave It by Tom Palazzolo, USA, 1973, 15 minutes, 16mm
“Love It/Leave It is a raucous treatment of patriotic color, football, nudity and parades set to a refrain of ‘Love It’ and coalescing into Tom Palazzolo’s nightmare rendition of America the Awful. It sounds the theme song of this program [at the Whitney] and gives you a pretty good start on deciding to ‘Leave It.’” - Archer Winston, NEW YORK POST
Deborah Stratman works in a territory between experimental and documentary genres. In her films and frequent work in other media including photography, sound, drawing and sculpture, Stratman explores the history, uses, mythologies and control of landscapes of varying types and scales: from Xinjiang China to suburban California. Her recent works have variously addressed the milieu of elevated threat, patriotism, sonic warfare, comets, sinkholes and faith. She is currently collecting a decade’s worth of FEAR (call 1-800-585-1078 to participate) and teaches at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Anthony Elms writes, is Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and is Editor of WhiteWalls Inc.
His writings have appeared in Afterall, Art Asia Pacific, Art Papers, Artforum, Cakewalk, May Revue, Modern Painters, New Art Examiner, and Time Out Chicago. As an artist, Elms has been included in projects exhibited at Gahlberg Gallery (Glen Ellyn), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago), Mandrake (Los Angeles), Mess Hall (Chicago), Randolph Street Gallery (Chicago), and VONZWECK (Chicago), among others. He has independently curated many exhibitions, including: Sun Ra, El Saturn & Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground, 1954-61 (with John Corbett and Terri Kapsalis); Interstellar Low Ways (with Huey Copeland); Can Bigfoot Get You a Beer?, and A Unicorn Basking in the Light of Three Glowing Suns (both with Philip von Zweck).
Tom Palazzolo is well-known for his short documentary films. He was showcased at the Art Institute of Chicago in November and December of 2010. In a unique combination of cinema-verite and surrealism, Tommy Chicago( his nom de plume) has produced numerous short documentary snapshots of eccentric Chicago characters such as the Chicken Man, the Tattooed Lady, the Pigeon Lady, as well as the unveiling of the Picasso Sculpture in the Civic Center. In recent years he has moved on to surrealist narrative films such as Caligari’s Cure, whose subtext may be read as a documentary on the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, Palazzolo’s alma mater, and where he taught film.