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We Are the Spirit Guides and We Are Watching You: Videos by Duke and Battersby
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Los Angeles, CA
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We Are the Spirit Guides and We Are Watching You: Videos by Duke and Battersby
Sunday, December 14, 2014, 7:30 pm
Los Angeles Filmforum presents
We Are the Spirit Guides and We Are Watching You: Videos by Duke and Battersby
At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028
Duke and Battersby in person!

Los Angeles Filmforum is thrilled to welcome Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby to town for their first Los Angeles program, providing an eagerly awaited and long-overdue opportunity to experience their singular and uncategorizable work, with the artists in person!

Complex, revelatory, and truly entertaining explorations of empathy, guilt, shame, caring, and humanity are teased brilliantly from an unconventional mixing of elements, including diaristic video, found footage, homespun songsmithery, faux-naive animation, and nature photography.

"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

Cooper Battersby and Emily Vey Duke have been working collaboratively since June 1994. Their work has been broadcast and exhibited around the world.

Duke and Battersby are currently teaching at Syracuse University in Central New York. In 2010 they were shortlisted for the prestigious Sobey Art Award, and their work is distributed by Video Data Bank in Chicago, Argos in Brussels, V-Tape in Toronto and Video Out in Vancouver. In 2012 the book The Beauty Is Relentless was published about their work.


Bad Ideas for Paradise (2001, digital, color, sound, 19m)
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.  D&B

"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."  Steve Reinke  

I Am a Conjuror (2003, digital, color, sound, 8.5m)
A short science-fiction narrative about a couple who have revolutionized the course of medical and scientific history. Beautifully shot and carefully paced, I Am A Conjuror asks the viewer to reconsider some of the most basic ideas we hold about science, culture and everyday life.

Curious About Existence (2003, digital, color, sound, 10.5m)
Curious about Existence is collection of short episodes incorporating music, animation, and live action. It deftly combines humour and humanism to maintain the engagement of the viewer as s/he is drawn through a number of divergent narrative worlds. The thread that holds these worlds together is a sense of curiosity about the world, (spiritual and material) and its inhabitants: humans, animals, the laws of nature, and so on.  D&B

Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure (2006, digital, color, sound, 14.5m)
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)."  D&B

Songs of Praise is a 14 minute episodic piece that has been described as "a moving yet relentless experience of contemporary life (human and biological) in the face of moral, physical and environmental degradation" [Emily Jones, Catalogue Essay, Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 2007] and "a series of pagan hymns that unearth slight but potent saving graces amid seemingly inescapable pain and anguish." [Jon Davies, Canadian Art, Fall 2006]. Davies goes on to write "Rather than offering transcendence and redemption, these illustrated songs and monologues suggest that the distinction between desperation and hope is a question of degree and not kind."

Beauty Plus Pity (2008, digital, color, sound, 14.5m)
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.  D&B
This program is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city's longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2014 is our 39th year.
Memberships available, $70 single, $115 dual, or $50 single student
Contact us at lafilmforum@yahoo.com.
Find us online at http://lafilmforum.org.
Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LosAngFilmforum


Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
United States


Arts > Visual
Film > Movies
Film > Premiers

Dog Friendly: Yes!
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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