|Shu Lea Cheang, Fresh Kill, 1996. Image courtesy the Walker Art Center.
Collection Playlist: Fresh Kill & The End of the World
Tuesday, October 27–Tuesday, November 10, Free
A classic experimental film from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection is paired with a contemporary work that is not in the collection. The two works resonate with timeless, conceptual connections.
In the mid-1990s, Shu Lea Cheang made a mark with Fresh Kill, her speculative feature about an apocalyptic New York City. Part eco-horror, part camp comedy, this impressive directorial debut from the world-renowned Taiwanese multimedia artist remains an underseen radical feminist gem. The film explores issues of environment, race, and class that still resonate today. It is paired with a simple one-take video by Bruce Farnsworth that captures the mood of this dreadful year. Total run time: 83 min.
ABOUT THE FILMS
“Shu Lea Cheang’s wicked directorial debut is a lethal comedy swimming through a torrent of toxic multinational treachery.” —BOMB Magazine
“People say the film is futuristic. It’s amazing. It’s happening now, right next to you. What’s futuristic about it?” —Shu Lea Cheang
Fresh Kill by Shu Lea Cheang
This post-apocalyptic world finds a lesbian couple (Sarita Choudhury and Erin McMurtry) living on Staten Island at war with a multinational corporation that is slowly poisoning working-class citizens via toxic cat food, contaminated sushi, and nuclear waste Cheang’s witty narrative challenges normative American concepts of identity and multiculturalism with her dystopian vision of a high-tech, transnational consumer society gone to hell. She unites form and content using rapid fire editing, suggesting that we live in a culture of constant interruption. TV commercials intrude on narrative scenes and characters drop-in when least expected. With activists busting in on corporate broadcasts, a raging virus, and dreamlike erotic scenes taking place in cyberspace, Fresh Kill’s transgressive, futuristic comedy plays to present-day existential horrors. 1994, video, 70 min.
End of the World by Bruce Farnsworth
Using subtle humor and mid-twentieth century tropes to highlight an apocalyptic theme, a sculptural installation by artist Stephen Grey is the portal into this funny, sarcastic, yet poignant ode to 2020. 2020, digital video, 3 min.
Shu Lea Cheang is an American artist and filmmaker. She lived and worked in New York in the 1980s and ’90s, relocating to the Europe in 2000. Active in experimental video and net art since the early 1980s, her work deals with the techno-body and queer politics. Following her first feature Fresh Kill (shown at the 1995 Whitney Biennale), she was commissioned by the Walker to create a cybernetic Bowling Alley installation linking public spaces and bowling through ISDN lines and digital sensory data. Cheang premiered her sci-fi porn I.K.U. at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000.
Anchorage-based writer, artist, and community organizer Bruce Farnsworth is the founder of the MTS Gallery in Anchorage and its director from 2005 through 2011. He is a founding member of Light Brigade, a multimedia collaboration of artists who stage site-specific urban art interventions in the built and natural environment, cofounder of Track & Field, and co-lead artist of Track & Field’s 8Boxes Project.