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Dani Leventhal, Tin Pressed, HD video, 6:35min., 2011
Cecilia Dougherty, Laurie, video, 11:25min., 1998
Leslie Thornton, There Was An Unseen Cloud, Moving, Super 8 + 16mm on VHS, 58min., 1987
An Unseen Cloud collects three intimate video portraits that capture their subjects in varying, extreme states. Dani Leventhal opens Tin Pressed with a sequence of intense violence that illuminates the subtler kinds of daily violence, which go unnoticed in the world around her. Dougherty's subject, Laurie Weeks, recounts the drug-fueled prose of her recently-published junkie's novel, Zipper Mouth. And Thornton's near-feature-length, There Was An Unseen Cloud, Moving restages the plight of Isabelle Eberhardt, a Victorian writer who masqueraded in mens attire in order to move freely about Moslem regions. Each video presents an ode to life lived on the edge.
More about There Was An Unseen Cloud, Moving: A fragmented, experimental biography of the 19th-century poet and writer Isabelle Eberhardt, whose brief, unusual life ended abruptly in a flash flood in the desert. The tape makes no claims to telling the "truth" about Isabelle, choosing rumors about her tyrannical, nihilistic father, and her flight to Armenia, where she dressed as a man and "wrote one of the strangest documents a woman has ever given to the world." Following Eberhardt's travels and the strangely syncretic vision of her father, Thornton creates a portrait of cultural cross-breeding in which "neither this world nor the other remains." In all, There Was An Unseen Cloud, Moving is an arresting mixture of rare and iconic images that undermines its authenticity through re-enacted "historical" scene and deliberate anachronisms that place Neil Armstrong in 19th-century Geneva.