Screen plays

Meshes Video Art Club

Attendees watch videos during the monthly Meshes video art screening.

Attendees watch videos during the monthly Meshes video art screening.

Photo/Ruben Kimmelman

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Arguably, the name that might come quickest to mind when discussing video artists doesn’t belong to a real person. “Knox Harrington, the video artist,” who may or may not have a cleft asshole, only abides on video, the character’s own supposed medium, in Joel and Ethan Coen’s iconic film The Big Lebowski. Now, how’s that for meta?

Meshes, the monthly video art screening night at the Holland Project, however, gets its name from an actual notable video artist, Maya Deren, and Deren’s own seminal film, Meshes of the Afternoon. The next entry in the series with be Aug. 27 at 8:45 p.m.

Alana Berglund, the series’s organizer, said that Deren’s film “changed everything.”

“Her writings talk about film being this endless opportunity, right?” Berglund said. “Because time doesn’t matter anymore, geography doesn’t matter anymore. Everything is spatial, right? So you could do whatever you wanted.”

Berglund’s monthly event showcases work by prominent, modern, real-life video artists. July’s screening showcased artist Valery Jung Estabrook.

On July 23, the small audience watched a short sketch from the TV show Key & Peele about an all-black flashmob, an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) video from YouTube, and a video satirizing apocalypse-peddler, televangelist Jim Bakker—created by the airhorn-loving, Trump-trolling viral-video-ace Vic Berger—before watching two of Estabrook’s original shorts.

“I wanted to choose videos that weren’t just other artists, because even though I do have lots of video artists that I admire and like, I don’t know if they directly inform my work,” Jung Estabrook said.

Her video Beautiful Face explored issues of racial identity and preconceptions. The inspiration of ASMR is apparent in the meditative and trance-like video My Hands Are Healing, which features the voice of Estabrook’s mother repeating the title phrase in Korean over layered clips of hands reaching toward the audience. The layering and arrangement of these clips combined with the tranquil, composed motions of the hands gives the impression of a multi-armed Hindu deity. Watching the piece, which is in part a response to the death of Estabrook’s father and ends with the artist’s face floating on screen with tears streaming, is spiritual and emotional.

“There was a lot of serious, a lot of hypnotic stuff, and some comedy,” said Adam Montano, 23. “I could have gone to the movies or something, but this is something totally different.”

The August video art night will showcase work by Shana Moultan, an accomplished artist who has had solo exhibitions across the globe.

Moultan’s video project Whispering Pines is “an episodic internet soap opera,” as described by the New Museum, which exhibits the project online at The soap opera has an original score, no real dialogue and is choreographed like a performance art piece, starring Moultan herself.

Whispering Pines is funny, but it also explores what Berglund calls “American self-help culture.” It’s a look at how people try to fix themselves in the 21st century, through fad workouts, pseudo-healthcare routines and conscripted—perhaps insincere—spirituality, leading to increased anxiety rather than healing.

The schedule for Aug. 27 has yet to be set, and Berglund is unsure if Whispering Pines will be featured.

Berglund said Meshes is an unusual setting to consume an avant garde medium. She differentiates her event from watching video art while sitting on a sterile bench in a museum.

“This is with your friends,” she said.