– Studio Visit-
Date: Wednesday, August 17th
Studio Visit Synopsis:
Entering Brian Zegeer’s studio in Long Island City, Queens is like walking into a double-exposed photograph. His studio/domicile is actually a former speakeasy complete with a long wood bar, mirrors and bar stools. Brian projected a series of videos and stop motion animations filmed in the last couple of years on a screen adjacent to a cart made of scavenged materials stacked with a number of potted plants. A work in progress, the cart will serve as a “relaxation booth” installed along the waterfront at the Dumbo Arts Festival. Plants will canopy the viewer as they sit in the cart and are spritzed with water while viewing the lower Manhattan skyline. This mobile oasis of sorts is informed by a memoir The Book of Khalid by Ameen Rihani (1910), an immigrant’s tale that describes a conflicted vision of America. This literary work also informs and provides the text for the narrated voice-over to Brian’s newest work, Book of Khalid (To Man…), a video consisting of shots of Middle Eastern influenced architectural elements and construction sites in lower Manhattan near the world trade center tower site. The group discussed the sound component of the video, a low tone computerized voice-over that reads from Ameen Rihani’s text. Some participants found the computer voice incongruent with imagery of the piece, while others thought that it matched up with the surveillance-like qualities of the video and the rhythm of cuts and edits.
Field Notes from Little Syria, a series of photographs similar in imagery and content were projected along with this video. Brian pulled and combined imagery from these photographs to make digital print work. In some ways the digital print seems to mesh some of the collage techniques and aesthetics apparent in Brian’s animation work with the visual and structural interests of his new video piece.
Brian’s older video and animation pieces are surrealistic process oriented works that use an abstract language of refuse materials and distorted figuration. These pieces represent for Brian acts of discovery, and in many cases access ritualistic ways of image making. The group discussed ways in which ritual plays into different aspects of Brian’s work. In some pieces Brian seems to create imagery relating to ritual as in Shell Game; a figure (the artist) is wheeled around Queens inside a cart in an assemblage funeral procession, grasping various trash of seeming importance. In other pieces Brian constructs and works within a series of processes that are more like carrying out ritual as in his video/animation Poetics of Ditch Digging, a non-sequential narrative in which, among other phenomena, a sort of trash golem materializes before the viewers eyes.
In a society that has purged ritual importance, Brian’s work may reclaim ritual through materiality, performance and engagement with world history and current events.
– Amanda Lechner