“Documenting Mythologies” is an investigation of myth in contemporary society created by the 2009-2010 UnionDocs Collaborative. The story follows eleven non-fiction media artists on a trip from Brooklyn, NY through New England to rural Maine, a kind of ritual escape from the city on a holiday weekend. Their simple journey becomes the frame for a series of complex short works in film, video, and radio. Diverse aesthetic approaches to documentary are used to develop the theme, which is inspired in part by the 1957 collection of essays by French author Roland Barthes titled “Mythologies.” For Barthes, myths aren’t only the traditional stories we tell; there are myths everywhere within our everyday lives. They are the meanings that we take for granted, “the falsely obvious,” a confusion of Nature and History, and a site of significant ideological abuse.
Interspersed between gas station stops, bonfires on the beach, and a small town’s blues festival, the group considers multiple myths including: the metaphysical attraction to one of the most popular wedding gifts in America; the growth of ambiguity in the word “Whatever”; the experience of queer interracial desire; a experiment in collaborative filmmaking via a game of broken telephone; the logic that underlies the phrase “New York is the Big Apple”; politicians’ obfuscation of reality in approaching “The Third Rail”; and the drama of online persona, among others.
In Boston on July 11th, as a final stop for this documented group trip, Artists in Context and Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab will present a work-in-progress screening and discussion of “Documenting Mythologies.” Highlights from the project will be shown, including rushes from the New England production, and conversation will be structured on issues of myth, collaboration, and documentary arts practice. All participants in the UnionDocs Collaborative will be present and the event will be recorded and incorporated as a scene in the final project.
UnionDocs Collaborative Program Directors
2009-2010 UnionDocs Collaborative Participants
Joshua Gen Solondz