Detouring with Traction: Stanya Kahn
Film program in the framework of the event series „Periphery“
Periphery is a multiyear event, research and exhibition series dedicated to the phenomenon of the “peripheral”. The program opened with the film series Detouring with Traction, which was curated by Kathrin Wojtowicz.
The connection between periphery and perspective is the starting point of the film series screened in five parts in cooperation with the cinema of the Historical Museum. What are possible perspectives on fringe areas and the purportedly clear distinctions between periphery and center? And how are questions regarding forms of coexistence, the construction and constitution of narrations, bodies or identities connected to this?
With Stand in the Stream and No Go Backs, the fourth part of the film series gives an insight into the filmic work of Stanya Kahn. The artist’s interest in the effect of sociopolitical conditions on the experiences one makes shapes her variegated working method, which in addition to an approach employing moving images also includes painting, sculpture/installation, drawing, writing, sound, and performance. Kahn sets the connections between fiction and documentation, the real and hyperreal, in relation to different aspects of time, and in doing so involves both her immediate surroundings and her own position.
Using an immense collection of image material in various camera formats, Stand in the Stream (2011–2017, 60 min.) reflects changes in the sociopolitical conditions, current developments in the media, global crises, and her personal life. In an unabating succession of sequences, Stanya Kahn arranges fragments of shots from the private and public realm, thus revealing the inseparability of the personal and political. The sound composition created with Alexia Riner combines, among other things, live streams of worldwide protests and news filmed in real time, quirky internet chats, diary-like recordings of everyday family life, cellphone videos and home movies. Her film takes us through different environments and contexts of public and private life and their intersections: landscapes, car rides, recordings of demonstrations, people in subways, digital worlds, urban, domestic and semi-public spaces. The artist directly integrates her own experiences in between all these images: her son as he grows up and the deteriorating condition and death of her mother, who during her lifetime was engaged as a political activist against exploitative structures.
In No Go Backs (2020, 34 min.), two young people—Kahn’s son Lenny Dodge-Kahn and his best friend Elijah Parks—leave the city on their bikes along the channel of the Los Angeles River into the wilderness. Beyond chrono-normative temporality, they follow the tracks of the Californian Water Wars through the monumental landscape of the Sierra Nevada. Their journey into the unknown leads them through abandoned structures, into extreme weather conditions and surreal as well as precarious situations. In an ambivalent atmosphere of adventurous playfulness, dream and the challenging search for basic supplies, light is shed on fundamental questions as to the way we treat each other and the environment. Language is lacking, a pervasive sound score frames the analog shots that condense to an allegory. What comes to light when more and more children and youths join the friends to form a community, is the potential of a generation that must invent different paths to a future that appears dystopian.
5:00 p.m. Stand in the Stream, 2011–2017, HD, 60 min.
6:30 p.m. No Go Backs, 2020, super 16mm film transferred to 2K, 34 min.
Stanya Kahn lives and works in Los Angeles. Her works have been presented at, among others, the Institute for Contemporary Art/Los Angeles, the Wexner Center for the Arts/Ohio, the MoMA/PS1/New York, the New Museum/New York, the British Film Institute/London, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis, the Hammer Museum/Los Angeles, the Astrup Fearnly Museum/Oslo, and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Her work created with Harry Dodge were on view at the Whitney Biennale/New York, the Sundance Film Festival, the MOCA/Los Angeles, the ZKM/Karlsruhe, and the MoMA/New York. Kahn was the co-author and performer of the feature film By Hook or By Crook (2001), her writings and drawings have been published by LTTR, MIT Press, UC Press, and 2nd Cannons.
Kathrin Wojtowicz is an artist based in Vienna. She works with sculpture, image and text and is interested in the relationships between social conditions, body politics and media. Her works have been shown at Halle für Kunst Lüneburg, Galerie der Stadt Schwaz/Tyrol, Sala Terrena/Heiligenkreuzerhof and in the exhibition space Schleuse/Vienna. She currently teaches at the University of Arts Linz.
Film still, No Go Backs by Stanya Kahn © 2020, Courtesy of Stanya Kahn and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Video still, Stand in the Stream by Stanya Kahn ©2011–17, Courtesy of Stanya Kahn and Vielmetter Los Angeles