Stanya Kahn: No Go Backs — Special Preview
one-week online screening

May 824, 2020



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Stanya Kahn: No Go Backs — Special Preview
one-week online screening

Extended through May 24th! Vielmetter Los Angeles and the Wexner Center for the Arts are excited to co-present a limited online screening of Stanya Kahn’s most recent short film, No Go Backs (2020). Available for viewing for one week, the 16mm film is a timely vision of a world on the edge of collapse and the young people set to inherit it. Because the film’s current exhibition at the Wexner Center and its opening at Vielmetter Los Angeles are both on hold due to the global pandemic, Kahn wanted to offer the film for a preview viewing for everyone sheltering in place. The film will be streaming on this website from May 8 – May 15th. A live conversation on Zoom with Wexner Associate Curator of Exhibitions Lucy I. Zimmerman and Curator of the Film/Video Studio Jennifer Lange, will be hosted by the Wexner Center and take place on Wednesday May 13 at 4 PM PDT / 7 PM EDT, RSVP is required at https://wexarts.org/talks-more/stanya-kahn-convers....


“Dad says water now costs several times as much as gasoline. But, except for the arsonists and the rich, most people have given up buying gasoline…It’s a lot harder to give up water.”
Lauren Olamina, 15, from Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler


A 33-minute short, shot on super 16mm with an original soundscore and no dialogue, No Go Backs follows two teenagers (and real-life friends) who leave the city for the wild, only haphazardly prepared. From the heart of the city, they cut an arduous path along sites of California’s historic water wars, traveling north into the monumental landscapes of the Eastern Sierra. In the haunted precarity of a collapsed world, the kids travel in dreamlike states of distraction, malaise, and resilience. As they eventually encounter other kids along shared roads and the prospect of camaraderie in facing the unknown, the film becomes a compressed, allegorical epic about an entire generation that must make a new way forward.


Deepening a process that embeds the real inside the fictional, the improvised inside the scripted, Kahn cast her own teenage son, his best friend and life-long neighbor and their friends as the young protaganists of No Go Backs. As in her earlier works such as Stand in the Stream, Don’t Go Back to Sleep, Sandra, Kathy and It’s Cool, I’m Good, Kahn grounds a constructed narrative with real-world relationships in No Go Backs. Always dream-like, otherworldly— aesthetically informed as much by the rupture of trauma as by the play of time and timing in comedy, literature, music and the sub-conscious—Kahn’s film/video practice is also rooted in praxis in the world-at-large. The films—and the processes through which they are made—are imbued with recurring concerns about agency and power in the world, about resistance, rhetoric, and creative refusal. Contributing ideas and some of their own music, the kids were active participants at the same time that they were subjects dwarfed by the film’s massive subtexts: issues like climate collapse and the global rise in authoritarianism. Working for the first time with 16mm film, Kahn wanted the film to live as a material record and to be made with the careful pace and consideration shooting on celluloid requires. As with most of her work, Kahn immerses herself physically, doing all her own editing, sound design and shooting the entire film herself (save for one or two images), operating the 16mm film camera in challenging conditions. She shot No Go Backs primarily with a long lens in order to film from a distance and allow the teens autonomy and space, and to acknowledge that young people inhabit a unique state that can’t be fully interpreted from outside. While the world alternately persecutes or ignores teens, while pilfering their inventiveness, Kahn wanted to hold them in view while dialectically sensing what can’t be seen. The camera’s proximity to its subjects also reflects Kahn’s interest in the practice of mutual respect in general: to see and acknowledge difference without invading, assuming to know, or attempting to co-opt. Working without dialogue, Kahn wanted to make a film that could be quietly polemic, to be more in service as an auteur, to allow the viewer more share of the discourse. Exhausted by word streams each day in the scroll of news and comments, all of us wrestling with position and rhetoric amidst what is the never-ending real violence of life in late capitalism, she wanted us to have a break. The camera often pauses, lingering to capture the magnitude of the earth. These scenes are meant to be generous, to offer a slowed moment in which one’s mind can rest, contemplate, become self-aware as a witness, while at the same time releasing the land from our grasp. These pictures are also of course an ode to the planet, and like the long shots of the kids, a loving record of the endangered.


“To think in film is to deal with a lack of security, of centers, of stable systems of thought. Filmic images call for supplements provided by imaginative minds, by a certain rage against injustice.
They call for a conception of history as stories of transient and vulnerable beings, of unsheltered lives, minding the non-famous people and regarding oneself as mortal.”
—Ute Holl on Harun Farocki


Featuring music by Stanya Kahn, Alexia Riner, Inect Ark, Eli.So.Drippy, Lil Peep and Brian Eno.


Starring Lenny Dodge-Kahn, Elijah Parks, Marisol Prietto, Serafina Prietto, Melissa Alonso, John Bello, Alexa Calderon, Dean Campo, Mae-Jean Campo, Angus Frazier-Herndon, Hollis Frazier-Herndon, Aero Greenfield, Ren Greenfield, Stephanie D. Kutsch, Dalia Lundquist, Kayla Parks, Gable Stinson, Kiana Wilson, Tynique Wilson.


Writer/director/producer/editor/sound designer: Stanya Kahn


Featuring original music by Stanya Kahn, Alexia Riner, Inect Ark, Eli.So.Drippy, Lil Peep and Brian Eno.


Starring Lenny Dodge-Kahn, Elijah Parks, Marisol Prietto, Serafina Prietto, Melissa Alonso, John Bello, Alexa Calderon, Dean Campo, Mae-Jean Campo, Angus Frazier-Herndon, Hollis Frazier-Herndon, Aero Greenfield, Ren Greenfield, Stephanie D. Kutsch, Dalia Lundquist, Kayla Parks, Gable Stinson, Kiana Wilson, Tynique Wilson.




Camera: Stanya Kahn and Consuelo Althouse


Assistant Camera: Simon Gulergun and Alisha Mehta


Production Assistant: Chester Toye


Colorist: Alexis McCrimmon


Additional Foley: Will Ogilvie


Thank you: Lucy Zimmerman, Jennifer Lange, Kiersten Puusemp, Michael Light, John Wentworth, Benjamin Weissman, Liza Womack, Hal Kahn, Lenny Dodge-Kahn


Made with the support of the Film/Video Studio Program at the Wexner Center for the Arts and an Emergency Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Art.


For more info, visit: https://wexarts.org/exhibitions/stanya-kahn-no-go-backs


Thank you to the whole staff at Vielmetter Los Angeles for this presentation of the film.


“But for my children,
I would have them keep their
distance from the thickening
center; corruption
Never has been compulsory,
when the cities lie at the
monster’s feet there are
left the mountains.”
— from “Shine, Perishing Republic’” by Robinson Jeffers as quoted by Jeffrey St. Claire in Born Under a Bad Sky: Notes From the Dark Side of the Earth.


Stanya Kahn is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in film and video with a practice that includes drawing, sound, writing, performance, sculpture, and installation. Kahn is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow in Film and Video. Recent solo exhibitions include "No Go Backs," The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; “Stand in the Stream,” MoMA PS1, New York, NY; "I can clearly see yer nuts," The New Museum, New York, NY; “Stand in the Stream,” Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City, CA; "Stanya Kahn: Die Laughing," Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY; "Stanya Kahn," Weiss, Berlin, Germany; “Heatstroke,” The Pit, Los Angeles, CA; "It's Cool, I'm Good," Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK. Select group exhibitions include The Gwangju Biennial (’18), Gwangju, South Korea; "Edens Edge," The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” The New Museum, New York; NY; “Laugh-In: Art, Comedy, Performance,” Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA; “Los Angeles – A Fiction,” Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway;California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. Her collaborative work with Harry Dodge has shown at Elizabeth Dee Gallery New York, NY; The 2008 Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; ZKM/Center for Art and Media, Karlsrhe, Germany, among others. She was a contributing writer and actor in feature film By Hook or By Crook (2001). Her works is in the collections of The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Goetz Collection, Munchen, Germany; among others.


Image: [still] No Go Backs, 2020, Super 16 mm film transferred to 2K video, TRT 33:30. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles