Critics’ Picks

Still from Patricia Teodorescu, Bear (Revelation), 2000.

Still from Patricia Teodorescu, Bear (Revelation), 2000.


“New Video, New Europe”

The Contemporary Austin | Jones Center
700 Congress Avenue
November 22, 2005–January 8, 2006

“New Video, New Europe,” curated by Hamza Walker, offers three extensive video programs from a region that has, especially since eight Eastern European states joined the European Union in 2003, asserted its position within Western systems of commerce and communication. In the shop front windows of Arthouse, a former department store on the historic main street of Austin, Texas, a single screen, atop a pile of dusty television monitors, loops Anna Niesterowicz’s Beaver, 2001, a video of a woman’s legs as she boldly removes her underwear. Inside, the show immediately turns towards the mouth as a site for verbal communication and for physical performance in a small group of selected shorts. Ene-Liis Semper fills hers with dirt, planting a flower and watering it; Magda Tóthová passionately kisses a bust of Lenin; and Patricia Teodorescu’s full-painted lips crush a chocolate bear. The video program includes Adrian Paci’s Albanian Stories, 1997, a home movie of the artist’s young daughter mixing characters and narratives from several traditional fairy tales in an innocent account of the conflict in Kosovo. In Kai Kaljo’s video, we hear a series of statements from a middle-age woman. She has found an audience, but it responds mockingly, offering a chorus of uproarious, patronizing laughter after each meek yet persistent statement. She refuses marginalization—“I am an Estonian artist . . . I am very happy”—and summarizes the spirit that gives this show such steadfast presence.