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Videos shine in Ground Play at Nexus


Video works by two artists stand out at Nexus. The show, Ground Play, includes art by a number of Nexus members, including work from six Nexus artists invited by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education to visit and respond to the history and topography of its Brolo Hill Farm, SCEE’s second site.

Anastasia M. Wong, Digout, stop-action animation still

Anastasia M. Wong, who was not one of the six participating artists, is showing delightful videos that bring a woman’s sensibility to the boy-world of video games, using stop-action animation. In Boss Fight 1 a pugilistic, tiny woman bounces up to battle the hydra-headed snake tongue emerging from a man’s giant head. The action, and electronic music from Mikronesia, suggest a video game battle. The woman may be naked and tiny, but she is a jumping bean, a force field to be reckoned with, taking on an unjust world.

Boss Fight 1 from ahmui on Vimeo.

Wong’s Digout is a bit further away from video-game world. It’s a brief stop-action animation of two women with Matisse-y dancer shapes crawling out from under the ground–not so much from a grave as from some alternate level of existence. The figures merge and then stretch and replicate into multiples, The elastic figures interact with random objects like floating lips, ears and trinkets. An expanding mouth on a stretching neck ingests, contains and internalizes the floating tokens.

When I spoke with Wong she said she hoped to move beyond mere animation to create actual video games. But what interests me here is how Wong has found a way to make feminist statements of power that charm and engage. I was unfamiliar with Wong’s work, but she’s been a Nexus member for a year, and she’s a MICA and then Penn grad.

Brolo Hill Project from Jennie Thwing on Vimeo.

Jenny Thwing’s video also brings up bodies from the grave–ghostly women in white working in the field, running through the woods, and whirling, inhabiting the vacant Brolo Hill Farm with spirits. The ghosts are Chaplinesque parodies of The Exorcist and other horror films, but there’s no horror here, only a mix of humor and the desire to capture a spiritual essence of the past.

Chris Macan’s pinhole photos are lovely, traditional views of neglected farm land that adds magic with the distortions of the technique. And Susan Abram’s photos of puddles behind the panes of an old window frame capture some of the magic of the mirror effect in puddles and windows.

The six artists who participated at Brolo hill are Abrams, Thwing, Nick Cassway, Jebney Lewis, Michael McDermott (aka Mikronesia, the composer for Wong’s Boss Fight), and Leah Reynolds. Others in this exhibit are Rebecca Gilbert and Elaine M. Erne.