Copyright 2013
Winnipeg Underground Film Festival
June 1 to 4th, 2017

At the Rachel Browne Theatre (2nd Floor, 211 Bannatyne Ave)

Open City Cinema is delighted to close our fifth Winnipeg Underground Film Festival with a presentation of three videos by acclaimed Canadian-born, US-based media artists, Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby. Since 1994, Duke and Battersby have been collaborating on darkly comic and openly philosophical videos, which address and challenge notions about sex, spirituality, addiction, relationships between humans and the natural world, love, death, identity - basically everything (see their 2013 video Here Is Everything, presented at WUFF in 2014 and available for viewing online, for more on everything). They omnivorously deploy animation, song, diorama, aphoristic text, macro photography and found footage in creating work that is witty, direct, vulnerable and unapologetic. The beauty is relentless.

Part 2 of our series with Duke and Battersby took place in July, 2017, in partnership with the Gimli Film Festival and the Platform Center for Photographic Arts.

Lesser Apes dirs. Duke and Battersby
2013 | CA / US | 13 | video | Manitoban premiere
Lesser Apes tells the story of a love affair between a primatologist, Farrah, and a female bonobo ape, Meema. Bonobos are the species with which humans share the most DNA, but unlike our species, they are matriarchal, live without conflict, and are unabashedly sexual. A paean to perversion, the film combines animation, live action and song to challenge attitudes about sex, language and our relationship to love. -D+B

Dear Lorde dirs. Duke and Battersby
2015 | CA / US | 27 | video | Manitoban premiere
Bone collector Maxine Rose, a 14 year old teenage girl, is looking for validation from her heroes, amongst them the primatologist Jane Goodall, bishop Desmond Tutu and the New Zealand teen popstar Lorde. Offering them a gift of language, Maxine Rose stands for the desire to be visible and understood, not unlike the desire of an artist. We are particularly impressed by the multilayered story telling structure, the freshness of the characterization, and the honest exploration of an artists` vulnerability. -D+B

Bad Ideas for Paradise dirs. Duke and Battersby
2001 | CA / US | 18 | video | Manitoban premiere
Bad Ideas for Paradise is a 20-minute episodic videotape. Funny, touching and ambitious in scope, Bad Ideas continues to deal with many of the themes addressed in Duke and Battersby’s earlier works: addiction, spirituality, identity, relationship dynamics and the ongoing quest for joy. -D+B

“There is no such thing as self-esteem. Self-esteem as a construct is illogical and contradictory, so its frequent deployment as the lynch-pin of New Age discourse seems to me satisfyingly appropriate. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have frequent bouts of self-loathing. There is something truly monstrous about the self-righteous. Eating a well-balanced diet is a horrible act of aggression. Whenever I hear the word “culture” I think of bacteria mutating under an ultraviolet light and I’m happy again for a while. Within the petri dish: unfettered egoless desire, the proliferation of new possibilities, ideas made flesh, uncaring and finally airborne. Empathy is a tool for making the cruelty more precise. Beauty is independent of taste; the sublime only works for suckers. Whenever I laugh I feel guilty.” -Steve Reinke on Bad Ideas for Paradise

“[Here] exists a kind of nakedness, a peeling away of propriety, a questioning of behavioral and social systems - and yet I find their work refreshingly playful and deeply generous.” -Deborah Stratman on the work of Duke and Battersby

Duke and Battersby are currently teaching at Syracuse University in Central New York. In 2010 they were shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award. Their work is distributed by Video Data Bank in Chicago, Argos in Brussels, V-Tape in Toronto, and Video Out in Vancouver.

* images from Duke and Battersby's Lesser Apes (top) and Dear Lorde (bottom)