These Restless Times
Curated by Ali Subotnick

EXPO VIDEO features a dynamic, curated screening program for film, video and new media works by artists represented by 2017 exhibitors. Curated by Los Angeles-based independent curator, Ali Subotnick, the program was presented within large-format screening rooms on the main floor of the exposition.

Participating Artists

Stanya Kahn | Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles

Arms are Overrated (2012)
Don’t Go Back to Sleep (2014)
Stand in the Stream (2011–2017)

Erik van Lieshout | Anton Kern Gallery, New York

Ego (2013)
Basement (2014)
Die Insel (2016)

Guthrie Lonergan | Honor Fraser, Los Angeles

9 Short Music Videos (2005)

Curatorial Statement

Instability. Unease. Fear. Dismay. Angst. Anxiety. Anger. Malaise. These are just a few of the increasingly normal, everyday emotional and mental states in America, Europe, and beyond. Mixing these universal feelings with personal biography, artists Stanya Kahn and Erik van Lieshout create deeply relevant and provocative works that are both of our time, and timeless. Both artists achieve a delicate balance between the personal and political, public and private, drama and comedy by asking questions, eliciting contemplation, and potentially instilling hope or some sort of empathy in viewers. Their deeply moving, often hilarious, videos connect to the human condition on a visceral level, so we feel a little less alone. These unstable and shifting political situations recur over and over in our current climate—seeing them reflected through a personal lens provides fresh insight, and yet connects to the history of this endlessly repeating cycle of chaos, change, upheaval, and rebellion.

Making art is a form of protest, a political act, and without heavy-handed didactics or proselytizing, both Kahn and van Lieshout effectively engage viewers in their own activism. Kahn’s video Don’t Go Back to Sleep (2014) presents an apocalyptic scenario with a group of strangers all outfitted in uniform hospital scrubs as they go into survival mode, inhabiting an empty house in a world destroyed by mysterious outside forces. Her most recent piece, Stand in the Stream (2011–2017) follows the artist coping with her mother’s deterioration as she slips into dementia, while also reflecting on recent riots and political protests, as well as individuals making personal connections in cyberspace. These deeply stirring films document the recent shifts in society and how we communicate and relate to one another, both at home and in the world at large. Kahn also produces shorter, more lighthearted pieces, such as Arms are Overrated (2012), which follows the musings of characters (made of crumpled up paper) reminiscent of the loveable, cranky balcony Muppets, Statler and Waldorf.

In van Lieshout’s video, Ego (2013) the artist delves into his complicated relationship with his immediate family. Like Kahn, he uses his personal history to explore societal issues and human relations. Basement (2014) documents van Lieshout’s project for Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia in which he created a home for stray cats living in the cellar of the Hermitage. The absurd scenario reflects on the social and political aspects of the contemporary situation, as well as the history of the museum and role of the felines in the pre-Soviet Russian empire. For his recent film Die Insel (2016), van Lieshout focuses on a lake that has been recently gentrified and transformed into a natural wilderness and recreation facility, surrounded by neo-modernist villas for the nouveau riche. In classic Van Lieshout style, the video documents his irreverent confrontations with increasingly annoyed civil servants as he asks questions to expose the complications of the situation. Exploiting the humor and absurdity of contemporary life, politics, culture, and the role of the artist, both Kahn and van Lieshout excel at creating achingly honest, witty works that speak to existential questions and the human condition.

Punctuating the video program, Guthrie Lonergan’s 9 Short Music Videos (2005) reflect our increasing reliance on digital technology to dictate our lives and routines. Using the default sounds such as ring tones and email alerts, Lonergan creates music videos to accompany the noises that have infiltrated our lives and become as familiar as a doorbell or car horn.



Conversations at the Edge—EXPO VIDEO: These Restless Times

Stanya Kahn (Artist, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects) in conversation with Ali Subotnick (2017 EXPO VIDEO Curator, SAIC MA 1997)

Join EXPO VIDEO Curator Ali Subotnick for a discussion with Los Angeles-based artist Stanya Kahn, whose work was included in the 2017 program, These Restless Times. Featuring a dynamic curated screening program for film, video, and new media works, EXPO VIDEO is installed on the main exposition floor in large-format screening rooms. Presented as part of Conversations at the Edge (CATE), organized by SAIC’s Film, Video, and New Media Department.

About the Curator

Until recently, Subotnick was a curator at the Hammer Museum where she organized the mid-career survey, UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991–2015 and the retrospective exhibition LLYN FOULKES. Other exhibitions and projects include: The Afghan Carpet Project (2015), Mark Leckey: On Pleasure Bent (2013), Made in L.A. 2012 (co-curated with Anne Ellegood and the LA><ART team), Nine Lives: Visionary Artists from L.A. (2009), and The Bible Illuminated: R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis (2010). For one weekend in July 2012, she organized the first and only Venice Beach Biennial, a weekend exhibition/event on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, which was a collateral event to Made in L.A. 2012. In 2006, along with artist Maurizio Cattelan and curator Massimiliano Gioni (together they created The Wrong Gallery & Charley magazine), she co-curated Of Mice and Men, the 4th Berlin Biennial for contemporary art. She has written about art and culture for Frieze, Parkett, ARTnews and ArtReview among other publications.

Subotnick follows past EXPO VIDEO curators Daria de Beauvais (2016) | Curator at Palais de Tokyo; Alfredo Cramerotti (2015) | independent curator and Director of MOSTYN (Wales, United Kingdom); Astria Suparak, (2014) | artist and independent curator; and Dean Otto (2013) | Program Manager of the Film/Video Department at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center.