By Jennifer Montgomery
Showing with DECODINGS by Michael Wallin
Post-screening conversation with Gregg Bordowitz


February 26th, 2011

THE AGONAL PHASE by Jennifer Montgomery (2010, HD video, 44 minutes)
“In the aftermath of a death things may seem very quiet, but there are struggles going on so deep not even those who struggle can recognize them. This film looks and listens for signs of those struggles. Psychoanalytic interjections consider the nature of time and rumination, and are used to step outside of the terribly interiorized state of mourning.” -JM

“The agonal phase: the visible events that take place when life is in the act of extricating itself from protoplasm too compromised to sustain it any longer. They are like some violent outbursts of protest arising deep in the primitive unconscious raging against the too-hasty departure of the spirit; no matter its preparation by even months of antecedent illness, the body often is reluctant to agree to the divorce.” -Sherwin Nuland, from How We Die

DECODINGS by Michael Wallin (1988, b/w 16mm sound, 16 minutes)
“Wallin’s achievement in Decodings is to create a powerfully inventive work that conveys with dramatic intensity strong feelings of remembrance and loss from images that have been extracted from the culture. … Wallin has succeeded in creating from various film sources a work that emphasizes the fragility and ultimate vulnerability of human expression and relationships.” – John G. Hanhardt, Whitney Biennial catalogue, 1989

“Michael Wallin’s Decodings is a profoundly moving, allegorical search for identity from the documents of collective memory, in this case, found footage from the ’40s and ’50s. … The search for self ends in aching poignancy with stills of a boy and his mother at the kitchen table, catching the moment that marks the dawning of anguish and loss; desire becomes imprinted on that which was long ago.” – Manohla Dargis, The Village Voice

Jennifer Montgomery’s film titles include Deliver (2008), Notes on the Death of Kodachrome (2006), Threads of Belonging (2003), Transitional Objects (2000), Troika (1998), Art For Teachers of Children (1995), I, a Lamb (1992), Age 12: Love With a Little L (1990), and Home Avenue (1989). Her newest film, The Agonal Phase (2010), recently premiered at the New York Film Festival. These films range from experimental essays to experimental features, and are distributed by Zeitgeist Films, Waterbearer Films, Women Make Movies, and Video Data Bank. Her work has shown at international festivals, as well as the 2008 Whitney Biennial (NYC), MoMA (NYC), the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago), the ICA (London), and the Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis). She has been the recipient of many grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. She currently lives in Chicago.

Michael Wallin has been at the nerve center of San Francisco filmmaking since the late sixties, when he studied with Bruce Baillie, James Broughton and Peter Kubelka; he was for years a co-manager of the Canyon Cinema Cooperative. He wasa recipient of the 1988 Phelan Art Awards in Filmmaking. Robert Anbian in Release Print described Wallin’s films as “intensely personal, autobiographical works [which] seek a kind of metaphoric transformation in the manipulated film image.”

Gregg Bordowitz is a writer and artist. His most recent project is an opera conceived as a collaboration with the artist Paul Chan, titled “The History of Sexuality Volume One By Michel Foucault: An Opera,” which premiered October 1 and 2, 2010 in Vienna, Austria. Bordowitz is the director and librettist for the opera. Afterall Books published his most recent book titled Imagevirus (2010), about the Canadian conceptual art group General Idea. Volition (2009), published by Printed Matter is a volume consisting entirely of questions. It’s a work of philosophy, poetry, or neither depending on how you look at it. The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings 1986-2003 was published by MIT Press in the fall of 2004. His films, including Fast Trip Long Drop (1993), A Cloud In Trousers (1995), The Suicide (1996), and Habit (2001) have been widely shown in festivals, museums, movie theaters and broadcast internationally. Professor Bordowitz is currently the Chair of the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and he is on the faculty of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

Filed under: film, video