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Janie Geiser Program 3: Double Vision

Saturday, Sep 16, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Location: Bartos Screening Room

With Janie Geiser in person

This series includes eight films made between 2013 and 2018 that investigate the photographic image. Found thrift store images and rediscovered family photographs are forensically examined, reimagined, reframed, unmoored, and re-revealed in all of their documentary truth and fiction.


Cathode Garden
2015, 8 mins, digital projection; sound collage: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins 
A young woman moves between light and dark, life and death—a latter day Persephone. The natural world responds accordingly. Neglected negatives, abandoned envelopes, botanical and anatomical illustrations, and found home-made recordings reorder themselves, collapsing and re-emerging in her liminal world.

The Hummingbird Wars
2014, 11 mins, digital projection; sound collage: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins
In this theatrical fiction, collapsing time and place, turn-of-the-last-century performers apply stage makeup as if for war, to engage in battle for the soul of the world. A visual/aural collage film, drawing on sources as disparate as Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Japanese Gagaku music, makeup illustrations for 19th-century actors, the biography of a Shakespearean performer, blooming and decaying flowers, and a World War I First Aid Book, The Hummingbird Wars suggests theater in a time of war, which is the theater of any time.

Silent Sister
2016, 6 mins, digital projection; sound collage: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins 
An elliptical meditation on the body, illness, landscape, and time. In Silent Sister, the body is turned inside-out, invaded, examined, using medical illustrations, charts, photographs of abandoned hospitals, miniatures, and photographs of pre-suburban Los Angeles (which was a haven for the chronically ill). Music composed by Cassia Streb; with additional sound design by John Eagle.

2013, 5 mins, digital projection; sound collage: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins
From the found book pages of an early 20th-century German book on forensics, Geiser uncovers hidden narratives Evidence is scientifically arranged and catalogued, suggesting a corridor to knowledge.

Look and Learn
2017, 11 mins, digital projection; sound collage: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins 
Look and Learn excavates the visual vocabulary we use to operate and construct the daily world, exploring the juxtaposition of material image forms: visual instructions (assembly guides, photography manuals, maps, diagrams, elementary school workbooks) and photographs—mainly a set of several 1950s elementary school group photographs. The visual instructions mimic maps in their hope of directing us to something or somewhere, perhaps to a better understanding of our world and how things work. New York Premiere 

Fluorescent Girl
2018, 2 minutes, digital projection; sound design: Janie Geiser
Fluorescent light reflects on a girl’s image, found in a book of photographs in a bookstore. She merges with other images of shadow and light, highlighting her ephemerality and ours. The photograph, Tailor’s Apprentice (1953), is by Paul Strand. New York Premiere

Flowers of the Sky 
2016, 9 mins, digital projection; sound collage: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins 
Flowers of the Sky (named after a medieval term for comets) draws on two panoramic photographs found in a Los Angeles thrift shop that depict a gathering of members of the Eastern Star, a Masonic order. In the first, taken at a banquet meal, the participants are seated at tables and facing the camera. In the second, everyone is dressed in ritual robes, looking away from the camera and toward a stage. A single figure stands there, centered on this platform, and faces them. Through isolating parts of the photographs and highlighting the different groupings of the Eastern Star members, Flowers of the Sky reveals and obscures the original events.

Valeria Street
2018, 11 mins, digital projection; sound design: Janie Geiser; sound mix: Kari Rae Seekins
“The starting point for Valeria Street was a box of seven slides that had fallen from a shelf in my studio. The slides depict a group of men, posed around a table, looking at a set of documents. They are in a generic office setting, with the blinds closed. Each slide is a different framing of the same event—clearly staged for the camera. In the center, seated, is one man. He holds a pen in his left hand. When I looked at the images, magnified through the camera lens, I saw that this was my father . . . I was intrigued and somewhat frightened by the idea of working with these photographs of my father. The images suggest something about work and family, and about how much of a life is lived outside of each other’s eyes.” —Janie Geiser. Music composed by Laura Steenburge

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / free for MoMI members at the Senior/Student level and above. Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.