...Mosquitoes and the Deluge
by Paul Smart WOODSTOCK TIMES July 21, 2011
Shalom Gorewitz: may I offer you apologies, for not having realized the intense beauty of your stunning digitalized video work over the years, and since your move to the Catskills. I’ve known about your showings here and there around the area, and run images and captions whenever I could. What you do is striking when it is quieted into a still image.
But now I’ve just spent a couple of days exploring what you do online…and I’m hooked.
For everyone else out there: Gorewitz, whose long career has stretched from the creation of an epochally psychedelic (and subtly politicized) Jimi Hendrix sign-off for the old USA Network back in the early 1980s through Guggenheim and Fulbright Foundation grants to a long-held teaching position at Ramapo College, plus scholarly works throughout the best of the avant garde video publishing world, will be screening his latest digital film at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23 at the Varga Gallery in Woodstock. I’ve been watching rough footage for this timely tome on YouTube, and can’t wait to see how the master manipulates what he shot during recent trips to Africa to draw out the emotional resonance of mosquito science (and politics), and sear this area of study into new heads.
Just as he’s done for water pollution, via Hot Stains, and the clutter of our television viewing habits (and overall visual street culture these days) in such trippy works as ExVideo, Open and Chocolate and Pretzels.
A Jew in Kumasi: Hebrew, Mosquitoes, and the Deluge is a whopping 18 minutes long, epic in terms of Gorewitz’s image-dense motif, and includes a host of great African music as the story and studies of Dr. Kofi Owusu-Daaku, a biologist studying mosquitoes, is presented. The result of a month-long residency funded by the Fulbright Foundation at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, the work is intended to provide a “field lecture” about mosquitoes in relationship with a “visually lyrical layer” added by Gorewitz via short, recurrent gestures and a growing deluge of “metaphysical electric data” comparable to speaking in tongues…all in the services of “a new way of looking at the border of interspecies struggle.”
“Everything in my artwork is real, but none of it is true…What might appear as confusion or ambiguity is carefully planned but not logical. I’m the interface between machines, the analog puppet with a digital master, pre-robotic prototype artist for the post-human era. I tickle the potentiometer and colors emerge; I pull a plug and rest,” Gorewitz has written of his unique aesthetics. “Oh, yes, this is Kabalistic, see how all of the energy flows through these morphs and transformations. Vaguely Jewish symbols and alpha wave music. Can you see how this might be healing? Think about having it on your wall to catch new details. Think about telling your friends the story I told you.”
Less obliquely, the works have a career video artist’s innate sense of movement and color, rhythm and effect, at play…usually with a pitch-perfect sense of odd musical accompaniment, to boot. Sure, such stuff is not everyone’s lemonade, but for those with an appreciation for the field of visual poetry in motion, and the vast amounts of expression to be found in the large plain between news and poetry, politics and the underlying phenomena of everyday life, this guy’s work is sublime.
Following this weekend’s special screening, at which Dr. Owusu-Daaku will be present to answer questions (along with Shalom Gorewitz), the video be available for streaming and sale on Amazon through the Tribeca Film Institute’s ReFrame program.
Again, the screening and discussion of A Jew in Kumasi: Hebrew, Mosquitoes, and the Deluge will be taking place at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23 at Varga Gallery, 130 Tinker Street in Woodstock, next to the cinema.++