BAP’S FIRST MENTOR, PAUL PFEIFFER!
We would like to introduce BAP Mentorship series, an ongoing program wherein established artists with varying practices from different parts of the world will be invited to teach workshops and seminars that are catered to young artists and creative practioners. We hope this is just the beginning of a mentor-student exchange that carries on throughout each participant’s career development.
On September 9, Paul Pfeiffer facilitated our very first mentorship program. The workshop explored video art and its correlation with Rosalind Krauss’s Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism, 1976. He also discussed how video can take you to a specific state of mind or create a sense of communal well-being and how it is extremely influential to society. Pfeiffer states:
When you really think about video and historical perspective, [and] the creative possibilities of video and how it can affect and reach people, that understanding is inherently political. The better you use the medium, the less difference there is between poetry and the political.
He went on to share two clips from Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing: first, he showed a man realizing the weight of his actions during the Indonesian mass killings; and second, he showed the reenactment of a village-burning and how the actors were heavily affected by their emotions even after the director called “cut”. Paul mentions that, “these clips exemplify a non-verbal, emotional impact that images have, which is what makes video so effective.” He continues, “this is why video has been frequently used as a political tool for as long as film and video have existed.”
Paul later expounded on the aforementioned essay by Krauss and pointed out that with this paper, it attempts to answer the question: “What makes video distinct from film?” He summarizes:
A video is when you shoot an image and receive a feedback simultaneously. On the other hand, you can not do that with film. When creating a film, there’s a lot of group effort that is happening at the same time so the feedback comes later.
He further delves into Krauss’s idea regarding Videos. The essay argues that videos are like mirrors. It metaphorically functions as a reflection of ourselves. When you look in a mirror, you see yourself and your own sense of reality. It produces a non verbal effect that indicates that what our mind sees is our reality. This relates to narcissism. Narcissus--in reference to Greek mythology--falls in love with his own reflection so much so that he was willing to drown himself with it. Krauss pointed out that a video has the capacity to massively self-encapsulate people. Paul further explained that this idea is quite alarming on how media can influence people. This creates a division from history since we will only look at our own perspective. (Krauss, 1976)
For Paul, he does not agree with this idea in regards to Videos but Krauss was spot on with the use of medium as a powerful political tool. To read the article, click here.
The program then proceeded with the participants presenting their choice of videos that were a mix of intriguing and amusing videos; some even included works in progress and others finished works. The first few presentations were by participants with a film background in which their chosen videos ranged from David Bowie lip syncing to Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel” (which highlighted Bowie’s gender bending practices) to a clip from Cesar Hernando’s Botikabituka, an alternative Filipino experimental film.
Other participants who were curators, researcher, and other creative producers also presented their own works in progress that encouraged everyone to exchange ideas regarding the meaning of art and the disappearing demarcation between life and art. They argued that art successfully imitate life and the role of the artist has been blurred by society. This correlates with Paul’s and Krauss’ idea on how video art (or any art) effectively influences masses and why it is relevant to society today.
We would like to our express gratitude to Paul for sharing his time and ideas as an insightful and patient mentor. We would also like to thank all twenty participants for actively engaging with the program. This event would not be successful without the efforts of these people.
Stay tuned for more Mentors and workshops, coming soon!