“Vanessa Renwick is pretty much as punk rock as they come. She’s been self-producing films and videos in her own inimitable style since the early 1980s, and now boasts a wildly eclectic DIY filmography. She can be fast and aggressive, or slow and contemplative. Sometimes she uses archival footage, but not always. The work is sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly. Without fail, however, the work is intense, hard to pin down, and even harder to forget.” – Penny Lane, Brooklyn Rail
Headroom Screening Series is thrilled to be the very first stop on Renwick’s 2015 NSEW tour!!
Founder and janitor of the Oregon Department of Kick Ass
Daughter of the American Revolution
Born 1961 in Chicago, Illinois. Film / Video / Installation artist. Lives in Portland, Oregon
An artist by nature, not by stress of research. She puts scholars to rout by embracing Nature’s teaching problems that have fretted trained minds. Working in experimental and poetic documentary forms, her iconoclastic work embodies her interest in landscape and transformation, and relationships between bodies and landscapes, and all sorts of borders. She is a naturalist, born, not made : a true barefoot, cinematic rabblerouser, of grand physique, calm pulse and a magnetism that demands the most profound attention.
a glimpse into the PROGRAM
Britton, South Dakota
(2003, 16mm to video, 9min)
Ivan Besse was the Strand movie theater manager in Britton, S. Dakota during the Depression. He had a 16mm camera and went about town shooting people at their various activities during the day. He would show the footage before features and newsreels as a way to lure the people into the theatre.
Most of the 2 1/2 hours of footage that he shot is of people walking down the street, there are also scenes of a barn being moved, a corn husking contest and kids running out of school.
The footage that really stood out to me was these 8 minutes of portraits of children. They had no idea of what a movie camera was.
The lack of narrative invites dressing these cinematic dolls with futures, now histories. The melancholic drone of the accompanying organ music tends to lead them into sad tragic finery. – VR
Portrait #2: Trojan
(2006, 35mm to video, 5min)
“The astonishing five-minute color film was shot in 35MM and transferred to video, sporting a perfectly synched musical score by Quasi’s Sam Coomes. No narrative, just a picturesque haunting reminder of our lives under the totem of a nuclear state. Long defunct, the monumental tower was imploded earlier this year and Renwick (of Oregon Department of Kick Ass) decided to capture the haunting silhouette that has simply stood there menacingly for years. She calmly documents its demise, which is very much an anti-climax. The short film adores its subject, the towering cement structure. Over a varying course of time, with lapse and stills we view a building painted in pastel light, stark at night, at dawn and dusk. Its inevitable course in its history would be told through a moment in time when it was no more. In essence, the very moment of implosion infers the ultimate destructive potential of its former chilling power. The film, shot by veteran cameraman Eric Alan Edwards (To Die For, Copland, The Break-Up), is stunning to watch, and perfectly blunt.” – TJ Norris
(1983, 16mm to video, 3min)
Penetration up the wazoo, blood, fire, gas, needles, tampons, liquid power and cocktails of the burning sort. My experimental response to sweating out near death with Toxic Shock Syndrome. – VR
9 is a secret
(2002, 16mm film & video, 6min)
“Renwick recounts a sad time in her life, when a friend was dying and she suddenly became aware of the presence of crows. The dark birds in turn point her to the practice of counting crows, which is both a children’s rhyming game and a form of divination in which the number of crows suggests events in the future. Eight crows auger death: nine crows reference a secret. Renwick combines these fragments with glimpses of imagery- a bed, the crows captures as silhouettes, a man’s twisted body – to craft a lyrical and moving essay that works its magic through poetic accretion rather than narrative logic.” – Holly Willis, L.A. Weekly
(2014, HD video, 6min)
A swan song for the factory age. A vortex of swirling Vaux’s Swifts which layover for three weeks in Portland, Oregon each fall on their migration to South America. Birds swoop over our demise, their relentless choreography signaling a new start. – VR
Portrait #3: House of Sound
(2009, 35mm to video, 11min)
“Circling the empty corner where a historic Portland record store once stood among a strip of black jazz clubs, Portrait #3: House of Sound is a testimonial to a community and cultural space recently demolished. The beautiful black and white 35mm footage, subtly tinged with loneliness, both juxtaposes and compliments the rich, vibrant voices sampled from a radio broadcast tribute to the record shop. The film moves between laughter, fond memories, melancholy and finally, conviction that despite physical destruction, the House of Sound will never die.” – MIXFEST