Screening and Book Release
With Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby in Person!
Co-Presented with WHITE LIGHT CINEMA


The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
March 19th, 2013

Copies of Mike Hoolboom’s (Ed.) new book, “The Beauty is Relentless: The Short Movies of Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby,” will be available for purchase.

The Nightingale and White Light Cinema are please to welcome Canadian artists and video makers Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby to present a mini-retrospective of their videos, including two Chicago premieres, and to continue the launch of a new publication on their work. Many of Duke and Battersby’s videos include original songs, sung by Duke, and tonight’s program will feature Duke singing a number of these songs live in accompaniment to the videos.

“The literary post-punk short movies of Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby have been tearing up the festival/gallery circuit for the past fifteen years with their blend of bedroom pop, perverse animations and hopes for fame.” (Mike Hoolboom)

“Often working with the disconnects between human and animal – and their urge to reconcile the sterile mechanics of our world versus the intuitive viscerality we keep buried within – their dark sense of humour has yielded a slate of bizarre taxidermies, installations, videos and sculpture, all tinged with a gutsy, mystical longing that’s sweet, sinister, hilarious and disturbing all at once.” (Murray Whyte, Toronto Star)

Program Details:
Bad Ideas for Paradise (2001, 20 min)
Steve Reinke on Bad Ideas for Paradise: “There is no such thing as self-esteem. Self-esteem as a construct is illogical and contradictory, so its frequent deployment as the lynch-pin of New Age discourse seems to me satisfyingly appropriate. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have frequent bouts of self-loathing. There is something truly monstrous about the self-righteous. Eating a well-balanced diet is a horrible act of aggression. Whenever I hear the word “culture” I think of bacteria mutating under an ultraviolet light and I’m happy again for a while. Within the petri dish: unfettered egoless desire, the proliferation of new possibilities ideas made flesh, uncaring and finally airborne. Empathy is a tool for making the cruelty more precise. Beauty is independent of taste; the sublime only works for suckers. Whenever I laugh I feel guilty.” Bad Ideas for Paradise is a 20-minute episodic videotape. Funny, touching and ambitious in scope, Bad Ideas continues to deal with many of the themes addressed in Duke and Battersby’s earlier works: addiction, spirituality, identity, relationship dynamics and the ongoing quest for joy.

Perfect Nature World (2002, 4 min) – with live singing
Perfect Nature World is a short single-channel animation. The genesis for the work was Emily Duke’s song of the same name, which describes the feelings of longing and inadequacy we experience when faced with the exquisite indifference of the natural world. The song was beautifully illustrated on a twenty foot scroll of butter-coloured paper by Shary Boyle and then animated by Cooper Battersby.

Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure (2006, 15 min)
Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure marks Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby’s return to the episodic structure of their earlier works Rapt and Happy, Being Fucked Up and Bad Ideas for Paradise. As with earlier works, Songs of Praise takes on difficult, often painful subject matter. Themes of addiction, violence, the destruction of the natural world and the agonies of adolescence are woven through the work, but as Sarah Milroy writes for the Globe and Mail, the work is “anything but depressing… [it is founded in] a sense of wonder at the endearing weirdness of life and all the vulnerable, furry little creatures immersed in it (especially us).”

Beauty Plus Pity (2008, 14 min)
Beauty Plus Pity sets a colourful single-channel video within a lush viewing environment populated by costumed taxidermic animals. Presented in seven parts, the video considers the potential for goodness amidst the troubled relations between God, humanity, animals, parents and children. While an animated cast of animal “spirit guides” quote Philip Larkin’s poem, This Be the Verse, and implore us to “get out as early as you can” from life and our parents’ grasp, a hunter dreams of a zoo where he might lie next to tranquilized animals calmed of their savagery. A senile and unstable God stumbles, forgets to take his medication, and turns frost into diamonds. Beauty Plus Pity contemplates the shame and beauty of existence; it is part apologia, part call to arms.

The Beauty Is Relentless (2010, 4 min) – with live singing
A diary of incidental images: a bedazzled cat in a deciduous wood; a dead or sleeping woman; a scarred arm; some whisky in a tumbler; a song that makes promises its singer cannot keep. Commissioned by Mercer Union’s Flipworks project, all footage was shot on a Flip Camera.

Here is Everything (2013, 15 min) – with live singing
Here Is Everything presents itself as a message from The Future, as narrated by a cat and a rabbit, spirit guides who explain that they’ve decided to speak to us via a contemporary art video because they understand this to be our highest form of communication. Their cheeky introduction, however, belies the complex set of ideas that fill the remainder of the film. Death, God, and attaining and maintaining a state of Grace are among the thematic strokes winding their way through the piece, rapturously illustrated with animation, still and video imagery.

Cooper Battersby (b. 1971, Penticton British Columbia, Canada) and Emily Vey Duke (b. 1972, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada) have been working collaboratively since 1994. They work in printed matter, installation, curation and sound, but their primary practice is the production of single-channel video. Their work has been exhibited in galleries and at festivals in North and South America and throughout Europe, including the Walker Center (Minneapolis), The Banff Centre (Banff), The Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver), YYZ (Toronto), The New York Video Festival (NYC), The European Media Arts Festival (Osnabruck), Impakt (Utrecht) and The Images Festival (Toronto). Their tape Being Fucked Up (2000) has been awarded prizes from film festivals in Switzerland, Germany and the USA. Bad Ideas for Paradise (2002) was purchased for broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and for the libraries at Harvard and Princeton, and has won prizes from the NYExpo (NYC) and the Onion City festival (Chicago). I am a Conjuror (2004) has received prizes from the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Onion City Festival.

Emily Vey Duke received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and completed her Masters at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She then worked for a year as Artistic Director at the Khyber Centre for the Arts in Halifax, NS.

Cooper Battersby received his diploma in computer programming at Okanagan College, and completed his Masters at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was the recipient of a Canada Council Production Grant in 2001. Duke and Battersby are currently teaching at Syracuse University in Central New York.



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