CoLAB 2021: Feral Domestic
This winter brings restlessness as we retreat indoors, continuing to isolate to keep each other safe. But while sheltering at home, we can use this forced reduction of our world as a space in which to imagine new realities. Connecting to others, we can find new ways to be present in this moment, to learn from the suffering and instability of the past year, to transform the possibilities of the limited space we occupy and reimagine our own boundaries and futures in the process.
UnionDocs has retooled our Collaborative Studio with these goals in mind. (Read more about the CoLAB here). Our next opportunity in this ongoing experiment is shorter, concentrated, and offers participation in-residence or remotely. It’s still engaged with theory, practice, and co-creation, but focused on the process as much as the products of this engagement.
The facilitators of this endeavor will be Dani & Sheilah ReStack, and the collaborative’s work will take inspiration from their concept of “feral domesticity.”
Doubled Inhabitation: A Mirage in The Kitchen
We aspire to “feral domesticity.” The continuous desire in the work is to create a friction against boundaries of sense and norms of usage dictated by our heteropatriarchal society. Most often, this friction is made through doubling of inhabitation.
Feral is useful because it takes as its primary point a domesticated version of something—a recognizable—and holds simultaneous the deviation, the wild and untamed version of that norm.
Perhaps this strategy of doubling inhabitation is a way in which to activate a third possibility—that which exists between and has potential to destabilize. Perhaps this is a denial of recognizability, but we want to underline that it is through the embrace and (over) inhabitation of that very recognizable that makes it vibrate with other possibilities. That is why it is subtitled, mirage in the kitchen—it is a wavering vision.
Questions to Explore
How is your body your home?
Can you transform your house to be a space for unpredictable occurrences?
Can banal tasks be rituals?
What does doubled-inhabitation look like?
What are your desires?
What are you willing to do?
What are you willing to give up?
What do you resist and what are your methods of resistance?
How do you inhabit love, violence, curiosity, compassion, selfishness, vulnerability, humility, fear and trust?
With one foot in the past and one foot in the future we are pissing on today. How do we remain present?
Are you willing to be guided by animal knowledge?
How does the poison of capitalism seep into me? How can we find it when we don’t know it’s happening?
What does a construction of the future look like built from materials found around the house/apartment?
Footage taken from On The Choreographic led by Sarah M. Friedland
Seeking Artists, Activists,
Designers, Coders, Collaborators!
The UNDO CoLAB aims to bring media artists of all disciplines together (filmmakers, animators, designers, writers, poets, audio-makers, coders, architects, sculptors, printmakers, illustrators, painters and more), for creative production and solidarity. During a 10 week focused-engagement, the group will pursue a set of short creative exercises committed to being hyper-present and in search for paths of rupture to our dominant paradigms. This work will focus on opening up creative pathways within the everyday, to find shape in expedient or inventive forms to plant seeds for larger future projects. Rather than striving towards a final singular product, we’ll focus on process, opening up to trial, error and group critique, making sketches, drafts and ideas that can be immediately tested.
Five artists will be invited to become residents at UnionDocs, entering a productive bubble, living and working together in the space from February 1 – March 31. Seven artists will be invited to join remotely from anywhere in the world. All 12 will come together to form a supportive cohort to engage in artist encounters, and research sessions with radical thinkers, and regular project development meetings.
Dani & Sheilah ReStack
Dani and Sheilah ReStack have embarked on an artistic relationship that is formally and emotionally adjacent to their domestic lives, a quotidian zone they share with their young daughter Rose. Both artists have established careers on their own. Neither Dani’ video work or Sheilah’s multimedia performance and installation work could exactly prepare us for the force of the women’s collaborative efforts. – Michael Sicinski, Cinema Scope, 2017. ReStack collaborations have shown at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Iceberg Projects Chicago, Toronto International Film Festival, Images Film Festival, Toronto, Lyric Theater, Carrizozo, NM, Leslie Lohman Project Space, Gaa Wellfleet, New York Film Festival and The Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. They have received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council and Visual Studies Workshop, NY. They have been residents at The Headlands in Marin County and their newest video Ohio, premiered as part of Wexner Center’s Cinetracts series fall 2020.
Dani’s work is made with an emotional logic, questioning cultural, personal and animal realities. She got her MFA in Film/Video at Bard College in 2010. She has screened at the UnionDocs, Oberhausen, Rotterdam, MoMA PS1, Anthology Film Archives, Views from the Avant-Garde, and Projections.Dani is Associate Professor Painting and Drawing at Ohio State University.
Sheilah’s work is a feminist, queer proposal for new systems of knowledge and narrative. She has her BFA from NSCAD University, Halifax and MFA from Goldmiths College, London. Recent solo show Hold Hold Spill was at Interface Gallery in Oakland, California (2020). Residencies include Banff Center for the Arts (2012), Struts and Faucet Media Centre (2014), Headlands Center for the Arts (2016) and MacDowell fellowship (2019). ReStack is the recipient of the Howard Foundation Fellowship for Photography (2017), and Canada Council Project Grants (2013, 2017). Sheilah is Associate Professor and Chair Studio Art at Denison University.
Opening Up Process
With technical support from UnionDocs, the group will produce a collective “show” a kind of cable-access compilation, group video diary, or guerrilla media zine, garnering inspiration from experiments in artist-run television like the VideoFreex, Joanie4Jackie, K8 Hardy and Wynne Greenwood’s New Report, and others. Individuals and small teams will produce shorts, sketches, segments and interstitials during rapid two week sprints that will come together as a collective output. The ReStacks will provide artistic direction toward three themes inspired by the work of three different authors, that they have selected who will join the group for a seminar conversation and to share feedback on the sketches and works-in-progress. The thought is to document the collective production and to extend this unique experience to others interested in following along.
A lowkey, experimental live-stream will be quickly edited into short episodes, with highlights from project discussions, artist encounters, and author conversations included alongside the recent work created. The ethos will be one of eschewing perfection, understanding vulnerability as strength and as a space of open experimentation.
– 10 project development meetings (Mondays & Wednesdays @ 5:30p)
– 10 encounters with visiting artists chosen to skill share tactics and provoke new ideas (Sundays @ 3p)
– 8 seminars with radical thinkers to provoke your work (Mondays @ 6p)
– 4 episodes of the collective show
– Bi-weekly BBQs
– We estimate the program will require around 25 hours each week (7 hours in meetings, 5 hours reading/watching, 12 hours of production). Meetings will be scheduled on evenings and weekends, and production is on your own time.
– $1100 program fee (crowdfunding option available, and full 2 scholarships offered for BIPOC artists). This fee is subsidized with grant contributions and offered as low as possible given costs associated with running the studio, which include general operating, artists fees, guest honoraria, and contributions to partner organizations.
– Residency option is $1000 / month all inclusive (full details here) Dani will be joining in-residence for a period of the program!
Founder / Executive Artistic Director
Christopher Allen is a producer/director of documentary media projects and a programmer of multi-disciplinary events. After graduating from Columbia University, he co-founded UnionDocs and has been responsible for the organization’s growth from grassroots as the Executive Artistic Director. The collaborative projects he initiated — including Living Los Sures, Just to Get By, Documenting Mythologies, and Yellow Arrow — unite the creative efforts of hundreds of artists, documentary makers and communities. He directed the early interactive documentary Capitol of Punk, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2014 and 2016, Brooklyn Magazine named him one of the most influential people in Brooklyn culture. Christopher has served on the juries of film festivals such as RIDM (Montreal) and Doc Lisboa, and on funding panels such as NYSCA and LEF. He collaborates on live media performance projects such as Say Something Bunny! with artist A.S.M. Kobayashi.
Jenny has worked as a producer/editor/organizer dedicated to community arts programming with a penchant for nonfiction for the past 10 years. She likes to bring curiosity, care, and a strong political stake in bolstering local arts communities through collaborative practice, open dialogue and diverse programming to her work here at UnionDocs. She has called Virginia, Ohio, Chicago, and Brooklyn home and has worked and volunteered time with such communities in all of those spaces including with New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival, Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago Artists Coalition, Rooftop Films, MOMA PS1, The Nightingale Cinema, Printed Matter Inc, Renegade Craft Fair and The Dissolve at Pitchfork Media. While at The Nightingale in Chicago, she helped launch their roving, experimental documentary series Run Of Life. Jenny received a B.A. in English + Cinema Studies from Oberlin where she took an interdisciplinary approach to her studies which centered documentary arts, artists’ books, pop culture and DIY publishing / exhibition practices.
Alison S. M. Kobayashi
Alison S. M. Kobayashi makes short videos and performances that have been exhibited widely in Canada, the United States and overseas. She was a guest artist at the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar and her body of work was a Spotlight Presentation at Video Out, Jakarta International Film Festival, Indonesia and is a 2016 Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow. In 2012, she was commissioned by Les Subsistances in Lyon, France to produce her first live performance, Defense Mechanism. She is the creator and star of the New York Times Critics Pick, Say Something Bunny! Alison S. M Kobayashi was born in Mississauga, Ontario and is based in Toronto and Brooklyn, NY where she is the Director of Special Projects at UnionDocs.
Juan Pedro Agurcia
Juan Pedro Agurcia is graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he majored in Entertainment and Media Studies with a focus on Film and Television. Born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Juan Pedro has been involved in various productions and film festivals in and outside of the United States. Most recently, he’s been a part of Cinema Tropical and the Tribeca Film Festival.