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Video night returns to art museum

Aspen Times Staff
More than 20 musicians record the song "You Don't Love Me Yet" in a video of the same name by artist Johanna Billing. It shows Thursday at the Aspen Art Museum. (Courtesy Aspen Art Museum)
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The Aspen Art Museum features two short video works by Swedish artist Johanna Billing when its weekly film and video series continues on Thursday.

This week, the museum’s Thursday Nights: Group Dynamics presents Billing’s (2003) and (2005) at 6 p.m. in the Lower Gallery. In both videos, the collective action of musical performance is examined through disjunctive performances of American popular music.

Named for a song written in 1984 by former psychedelic rock pioneer and 13th Floor Elevators songwriter Roky Erickson, Billing’s “You Don’t Love Me Yet” documents a group of more than 20 musicians recording the song in a studio.

Says the museum: “You Don’t Love Me Yet” has all the ambiguity and entirely relatable blandness of a pop ballad. Like other songs in the genre, where ease of identification with the sentiment is at the heart of mass appeal, “You Don’t Love Me Yet” becomes a screen for emotional projection.

“Magical World,” which was created during a residency in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2004, addresses Croatia’s difficult acclimation to life under the European Union. Filmed in an unfinished and rapidly deteriorating cultural center in the outskirts of Zagreb, the work depicts a group of children performing the 1968 Rotary Connection song “Magical World.” Beginning with the lines “why do you want to wake me from such a beautiful dream … can’t you see that I am sleeping,” the song, when sung by a group of young children in forced English, becomes a personal response to societal upheaval, according to the museum.

The video series is free, and complimentary beer and popcorn are served. The videos will play through May 18, when the last work in the series will be presented.

For the final presentation, the museum will show the video by Inventory on Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m.

Inventory, an interdisciplinary collective of writers, artists, and theorists, takes its name from a Walter Benjamin quote: “The inventory of the street is inexhaustible.” Formed in 1996 in London, where it is presently based, the group envisions its practice as a “collective resistance to established order … a rally against alienated existence, consumer culture, and the regimentation of urban space.”

In “Sleepwalkers” (2003), Inventory examines a British festival of Americana. A queer combination of cowboys and Cadillacs, mariachis and mechanical bulls, the Civil War and the California Highway Patrol, “Sleepwalkers” takes seriously the proposition of an anthropological expedition to Nottinghamshire to study the intricacies of the British relationship to American culture. Finding what the narrator describes as “a smorgasboard of U.S. history and material culture,” Sleepwalkers presents enthusiasts whose ideals are, perplexingly, both fragmentary and hegemonic.

Says the museum: Much like the cover songs used by other artists in the exhibition, “Inventory” practices anthropology twice removed, interpreting the interpreters. Instead of treating this type of excessive event as pure spectacle, Inventory addresses it as a site of meaning, as perhaps the perfect venue for investigating the affects of American popular culture on the British imagination.

The public is also invited to visit the museum’s Upper Gallery, which Distinguished Artist in Residence Javier Tellez is using as a production studio to create a western film based on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

For more information, call 925-8050.


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