The basis for City Breath will consist of a collection of around 20 short video 'breaths' or 'gasps', conceptual pieces and brief emotional encounters with places that can not be expressed in the dominant mode of narrative cinema or television. These breaths or essences seek to interrogate the official understandings of our cities given to us in television, film and other mass media.
A selection of these will then enter into active dialogue with the people of Cape Town in May 2009, when they will be presented as site-specific video installations in urban spaces as part of the Cape 09 Biennale. A DVD and video website will be produced to accompany the event, as well as regular movie theatre screenings of the entire collection.
City Breath insists on cultivating private dreams and mythologies in public places. It goes in search of the unspeakable. It makes a point of creating and collecting that which is rejected by mass media, simply because it is personal, because it engages beneath the surface, because it does not fit pre-defined categories, because it might take patience, because it might be raw and difficult, because it might not be popular, because it is not for sale. The project goes against the concept of the 'mass', an illusory category created by the field of marketing, and goes in search of deeply individual encounters, which might evoke strong reactions and stimulate debate.
Interrogating, breaking and manipulating tired historical forms, City Breath seeks new forms, new film making strategies and approaches, new sound and image technologies, new aims and intentions in the tradition of the international avant-garde. It relates strongly the new short attention span cinema of the digital age and the skillfully produced low or no budget film. To this end, City Breath is facilitating and encouraging new collaborations between South African poets, performance artists, dancers, alternative filmmakers, experimental animators, sound and video artists, as well as curating submissions from established artists. The emphasis will be on the emergent genres of the video poem, the screen dance / performance and experimental animation. We will be looking for conceptual pieces that can hold the viewer's attention.
"If Johannesburg is a virus, I was infected a long time ago, and negotiating and challenging the virus is what interests me, and therein lies the intimacy." (Stephen Hobbs) City Breath invites performers, poets and filmmakers to approach their urban spaces and their identity not merely as spectators, but also as actors, intervening in tired representations and unquestioned systems, rituals and places. It opens up opportunities for "aimless wandering, ludic nomadism, shadowing strangers, co-opting the streetwise strategies of direct action, cutting across the grooves of commuterdom - by turns playful and dangerous, such 'senseless acts of great beauty' bear witness to the great Situationist slogan 'Sous la pave, la plage' - under the pavement, the beach." [Ilona Blazwick, 2001. Century City : Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis. London : Tate Publishing.]
The early deadline is 30 January 2009. The final deadline is 30 March 2009. The Cape 09 Biennale will be held in May 2009. The maximum length for each film is 4 minutes.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for further questions.