Close Up

20 June 2012: Michael Robinson: Line Describing your Mom


Close-Up presents a screening of 8 films by artist Michael Robinson. Since 2000, Robinson has created a body of film, video and photography work exploring the poetics of loss and the dangers of mediated experience. "Robinson's collaged films thus do double duty: while pointing to the mechanisms of mediation and manufactured sentiment, he unlocks the power popular images exercise over our psychological and emotional makeup, reconfiguring them in a way that is funny but not ironic, sincere but not naïve, heartfelt but not sentimental." – Henriette Huldisch

"Michael Robinson’s works bring together images and sounds from a wide range of original and pop-culture sources, forging new and uncanny correspondences. He blends film and video to create lyrical narratives that are equally opulent and restrained, their parent materials pulsing in and out of abstraction. For These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us, footage of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1963 Hollywood epic Cleopatra is seamlessly combined with images of Michael Jackson’s mid-1990s Egyptomania, culminating in a mesmerizing phantasmagoria of hypnotic color strobe. Line Describing Your Mom – its title a cheeky nod to Anthony McCall’s canonical "solid-light" film Line Describing a Cone (1974) – sets altered footage of amateur liturgical choreography to the sounds of a woman’s YouTube confessional. Here and elsewhere, Robinson makes familiar media strange again, exploring collective memory through a poetics of devotion and loss." – The Whitney Museum of American Art, 2012 Whitney Biennial

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the artist.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
Michael Robinson
2005 | 8 min | Colour | 16mm

Viewed at its seams, a slideshow of National Geographic landscapes from the 1960’s and 70’s deforms into a bright white distress signal.

These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us
Michael Robinson
2010 | 13 min | Colour | Digital

Tired of underworld and overworld alike, Isis escorts her favorite son on their final curtain call down the Nile, leaving a neon wake of shattered tombs and sparkling sarcophagi.

Hold Me Now
Michael Robinson
2008 | 5 min | Colour | Digital

Plagued by blindness, sloth, and devotion, a troubled scene from Little House on the Prairie offers itself up to karaoke exorcism.

The General Returns from One Place to Another
Michael Robinson
2006 | 11 min | Colour | Digital

Through a concurrently indulgent and skeptical experience of the beautiful, the film draws an uneasy balance between the romantic and the horrid. A nihilistic monologue (from Frank O’Hara’s play of the same title) attempts to undercut the sincerity of the landscape, but there are stronger forces surfacing.

Light Is Waiting
Michael Robinson
2007 | 11 min | Colour | Digital

A very special episode of television’s Full House devours itself from the inside out, excavating a hypnotic nightmare of a culture lost at sea. Tropes of video art and family entertainment face off in a luminous orgy neither can survive.

All Through the Night
Michael Robinson
2008 | 4 min | Colour | Digital

A charred visitation with an icy language of control: “there is no room for love”. Splinters of Nordic fairy tales and ecological disaster films are ground down into a shimmering prism of contradictions.

Line Describing Your Mom
Michael Robinson
2011 | 6 min | Colour | DV

This is the new choreography of devotion, via the vlog of southern nightmares. This is the light that never goes out. This is the line describing your mom.

Victory Over the Sun
Michael Robinson
2007 | 13 min | Colour | 16mm

Dormant sites of past World’s Fairs breed an eruptive struggle between spirit and matter, ego and industry, futurism and failure. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory; nothing lasts forever even cold November rain.