EMPAC at RPI Presents Film Series “Short Shadows” [Berkshire on Stage]
Throughout 2019, EMPAC at RPI in Troy will present the moving-image series “Short Shadows.” Featuring films, videos, poems, and performances spanning both real and fictional scenarios, the series aims to shine a light on cultural and historical events that may otherwise remain in the shadow. Spring screenings will take place at 7pm Thursday (January 31), February 28, March 29 and April 11.
Shadows are fundamentally linked to the history of cinema, both technically (images produced by light and shadow) and also in terms of its basic metaphors, including Plato’s Cave. But “Short Shadows” not only refers to the magic of cinema or phenomenological affect. It also suggests the disruption of cinematic illusion, a strategy fundamental to artists’ moving image and experimental film practices. “Short Shadows” alludes to the communal experience of an on-screen shadow cast by the late-arriving audience member, and revels in the deliberate disruption of a cinematic phantasm by artists who endeavor to excavate the surface of such scenarios in order to reveal their formation.
The artists presented in the “Short Shadows” series are concerned with the political importance of unexpected historical interconnections, and they advocate for a practice capable of attending to and moving within them.
The series-opening event on Thursday (January 31,) “Short Shadows: A life that is only circulations” takes its title from a poem by Bay Area poet Juliana Spahr, who will give a reading during the event. The text will serve to frame a pair of films made almost five decades apart: Joyce Wieland’s “Sailboat” (1965) and the Otolith Group’s “I See Infinite Distance Between Any Point and Another” (2012). Both films operate at the boundary between language and image, framed by the sea as a visual, poetic, and structural metaphor for exile, longing, and global circulatory connection.