“The dialectical image is an image that emerges suddenly, in a flash. What has been is to be held fast—as an image flashing up in the now of its recognizability.”
– Walter Benjamin, “The Arcades Project”
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to announce our fourth solo exhibition with Los Angeles artist Stanya Kahn which will feature the premiere of her new film “Stand in the Stream”.
“Stand in the Stream” is an ambient, narrative, digital film that follows perspectives of a subjective body in time, family, community, work, action and in the daily mundane. Kahn’s most ambitious and complex filmic work to date, it layers a dizzying multitude of facets into a roaring and deeply moving visual opera that pays homage to life and the inevitability of time. History here is speeding and dynamic, a storm to be watched and catalogued, even while it resists categorization, soaking and tearing the notes. Driven by its images and sounds – a multiplex of information from Kahn’s indexical collection of footage – the film braids threads of narratives in relation to change: the deterioration of the artist’s worker/activist mother, Kahn’s own role as a mother, and the shifting demands, tactics and digital visibility of resistance movements across the globe.
Shot over the course of six years, “Stand in the Stream” was made using multiple video devices—from cell phones to point-and-shoots, spy and POV cams, large format HD and webcams, and real-time screen recordings of live streams, but contains no found footage. As the cameras incessantly watch strangers in public spaces (IRL and online), intimates in the home, and the natural and man-made worlds, the inextricability of a personal life from a politicized being is made clear and inevitable. Varying stakes in participation, distance, and accountability shift in and out of focus as we move from the tangible world to comment feeds, to independent live-streams and back to IRL. While the visual landscape of the computer screen and its vortex of windows is a recurring location, and all interactions are mediated by a lens, Stand in the Stream returns again and again to the body (human, animal, plant, the artist’s), drawing attention to the pleasure and discord of modulating back and forth between screen life and “real” life, and the interstitial spaces where these overlap, both actually and psychologically.
Kahn’s sound design includes original compositions by Kahn and by the musician/composer Alexia Riner (a solo artist and half of the duo “Madame Gandhi.”) The title, “Stand in the Stream,” comes from the Bertolt Brecht play “Mann ist Mann (Man Equals Man).” The play is about the forcible transformation of an ordinary citizen (Galy Gay) into a soldier: the pliability of identity in the post-industrial West and the possibility, as Brecht suggested, that people are like machines and can be dismantled and rebuilt. In a brief and meta-narrative interlude in the play, the character Widow Begbick tells the audience that “Herr Brecht hopes you will feel the ground on which you stand, slither your toes like shifting sand so that the case of Galy Gay the porter makes you aware life on this earth is a hazardous affair.” Then a voice is heard declaring the start of war. The wry and weary Widow Begbick sings:
“Don’t try to hold onto the wave that’s breaking against your foot.
So long as you stand in the stream, fresh waves will always keep
breaking against it.”
Stanya Kahn received an MFA from the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College in 2003. Kahn has had solo exhibitions at Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO; the University Galleries of the University of Illinois, Normal, IL; Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, Marlborough Contemporary, NY and Weiss Berlin, among others. Kahn’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the New Museum, New York, NY; the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA among many others. Kahn was included in the 2010 Orange County Biennial and the 2008 Whitney Biennial (with collaborator Harry Dodge). In 2012, Kahn won a Guggenheim Fellowship for Film/Video. Her work is in many public and private collections including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Goetz Collection, Munich, Germany; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Stand in the Stream has a total running time of just under one hour and will play continuously every day starting at 10AM with a final screening daily at 5PM. During the opening reception, there will be 3 consecutive screenings of the film beginning at 5:15PM