Happy Friday and congratulations on making it through yet another week. Do you feel accomplished? Well, that’s okay, too. Whether you conquered the world or simply managed to hold it together for 168 hours, you deserve a break with some contemporary ceramic art videos.
We’re kicking off this post with Swan (2015) a short film by Mark Rubbo, founder of Studio Rubbo. We picked this one because of its unique blend of grace and surreal unease. Clay itself is plastic, malleable. Fired porcelain shouldn’t move like this and so this animation approaches something like contemporary ceramics uncanny valley. We like that we’re kept guessing as to whether the swan is moving or if our eyes are playing tricks on us. Rubbo never lets us fully process the figure before he jumps to the next cut. The creature quickly leaves its studio habitat and visits the big city, full of post-industrial shots that create a sense of danger. The sound of its porcelain wings beating at the end will stay with me for a while.
Virtuoso Part 2
This video by Tslil Agmon highlighted my lack of patience, even though it’s very short. I was ready to hit pause on the player and move to another film when the movement began. I’m glad my ADD-raddled brain held on because Agmon’s use of practical effects created something that looks absolutely amazing and kept me guessing until the screen went dark. This gem of photo trickery left me feeling calm and satisfied.
I’ll admit: creepy dolls are among my least favorite tropes in horror (aside from clowns, which people are only afraid of because they think they’re supposed to be). “Porcelain,” a five year old film by Shuchi Talati, evokes the spooky animated doll trope, but she does it with more grace than others. There’s a dark fantasy atmosphere to the trailer that will be immediately recognized by fans of Neil Gaiman or Guillermo del Toro and it’s sold with ornate sets, props and sound design you can almost feel. I also like the themes of childlike innocence giving way to guilt in the character of the little girl. It’s melancholy regret rather than run-for-your-life fear, which is a great direction for this kind of story. I’ll definitely check out the whole film if I ever get the chance.
Shocking Art Supplies
I love it when videos in this series speak to each other. The preceding three in this list were surreal and create an inching sense of unease that could (but don’t quite) give way to dread. A couple years ago Portlandia made a great casting choice by having Shepard Fairey pose with creepy doll heads in this skit about hack art supplies for hack artists. Shepard is excellent for the bit because of his mass pop art background. Portlandia is an odd series. Cordoned off on IFC, it’s only accessible to the very people its satire targets. Because of that it runs the risk of being self-satisfied and smug instead of dropping comedy napalm on the rapidly-gentrifying Portland. Their guests are choice, though. Shepard’s skit and Jello Biafra’s chants of “No more yuppies. Die yuppie scum,” are high points in the series.
That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you again in seven days.
Bill Rodgers is a writer for cfile.daily.
Do you love or loathe these videos of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art? Tell us in the comments.