Madness In Four Actions
Remember how earlier in this blog I mentioned that it’s the extended anniversary of my hospitalization from a psych drug induced mania? Well, now some weird fucking thing keeps happening with my computer. The language settings keep slipping to Canadian French, which means when it slips over I get shit like this when I type in quotations: Èè What the hell? It reminds me of every small petty annoyance I had living in Montreal. The French language is hijacking me! When I first got One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on DVD my friend turned it to the French language selection and I blew a gasket. “How could you be oblivious to such an obvious trigger!! Change it back right now!” I mean, the film itself was one big trigger, but making it an unintelligible language to me AGAIN, that would just slip me over the edge.
I’m having less triggers about hearing French. I quite like the language actually, I just think Quebec has some really shitty human rights abuses that go on unquestioned. I heard some FUCKED UP shit that they did to the warriors at OKA after the blockade went down and they got a hold of them, like torture under the Geneva conventions type shit. So many of those guys have snuffed it since.
Anyway, the video, which now has a name, is sitting in a DVD player at the Mendel, which is shut down this week for installation in all galleries. The video is called Madness In Four Actions, because it uses four repetitive actions performed by Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke in the Miracle Worker. Taken out of context they are pretty interesting because they are so adversarial and yet so meaningless. And I also liked using it because Patty Duke did go on to have a diagnosis of manic depression. She even states “Although I don’t think that my bipolar disorder fully manifested itself until I was about 17, I had struggles with anxiety and depression throughout my childhood. I have to wonder, as I look at old films of mine when I was a child, where I got that shimmering, supernatural energy. It seems to me that it came from three things: mania, fear of the Rosses and talent.”
One thing I noticed about it is that it references repetitive loops I fall into when I get really upset about something. If I get so upset I lose higher communication skills I will, quite literally, repeat a short five word or less phrase over and over and over, sometimes 15 times. I guess I feel like if I say it enough people will understand I really mean it, because sometimes if I just say it the one time they don’t really clue in that it’s bothering me. So making Patty Duke slap Anne Bancroft around over and over was pretty fun.
I also liked that it was using tropes of performance art moreso than other videos I have done. And it was more of a collage than other videos too, everything was sampled, even the text. There are still a couple tiny things I want to tweak, but I’m taking a break for a couple weeks and doing it later for the copies I’ll send to distributors. I think I’m also going to burn a bunch of DVD’s to go with the Betacam master I’ll send in case people do use it for installation.
I saw my friend Megan’s work at the gallery too, it’s really good. She did Velveeta (my ex from art school) really well. And it’s from a photo of when Velveeta and I dated and she looks really happy, which is cute.
Anyway, I’m glad I got to make this video while I was having The Anniversary. I think it helped me resolve a lot of my feelings around being in the hospital. This is the first time I’ve actually tried to evoke what it feels like to be involuntarily committed and also the politics around it. I quoted R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz, Benjamin Rush, and two survivors. And I read Mad In America during rendering times, for the second time. If you want to read a really good book on the psychiatric industry and it’s gross human rights violations throughout history, I recommend it. And it even describes an all too short humane alternative that worked and was abandoned around the turn of the century.
Once I am done being so exhausted I will compress it and post it on Youtube. In fact, I think I might use Youtube for videos more, maybe it will improve distribution.
Schrodinger is wandering around on the desk being cute. He’s such a sleek little weirdo.
I saw Paradise Now. REALLY GOOD, holy crap. I’ll have to write more about it later. Next I’m watching Mandalay, the second in Lars Von Trier’s American trilogy. I hope he doesn’t do something awful to the protagonist again, but I’m not holding my breath.