David Askevold: A Video Retrospective

David Askevold

2008, 93:58 minutes


In 2005, the Centre For Art Tapes (CFAT) Programming Committee decided on a new program that would highlight the work of senior members. This initiative would result over the next five years in five retrospective screenings with the production of a DVD of the work to document the event.

The nine works selected for this video retrospective were made between 1969 and 2003.

1. Nova Scotia Fires, 1969, 2:30 min.
Along the South Shore of Nova Scotia, I poured a mixture of gasoline and oil on various stone configurations and along some beaches, lit them and filmed the results.

2. Fill, 1970, 8:20 min.
The screen is filled by laying sheets of aluminum foil on a microphone and wrapped one at a time and then unwrapped. The audio implodes during the wrapping and explodes as the sheets are pulled away from the microphone. This was my first video.

3. Rubber Band, 1971, 3:18 min.
Holding a rubber band between my thumbs and forefingers, I strum as fast as I can close to a microphone. The camera is static and ran until the S8 cartridge ran out. The sound is recorded on tape separate from the film, so the audio which sounds like a drum, slowly moves out of synch with the image.

4. It’s No Use Crying, 1972, 3:30min.
The performer’s upside down face and head fills the video screen, staring into the camera trying not to blink for the duration of a recording of Ray Charles’
It’s No Use Crying.

5. Bliss D.F.², 1979, 6:30 min.
The performer describes how to shrink a head using an avocado and its pit. This is recorded on one audio channel. The other props include a tablecloth, a pan of water and a wine cork. The second audio channel plays a tape by Tamara Rand, a sex therapist who describes how to maintain an erection.

6. Rhea, 1982, 6:50 min.
Rhea opens and closes with a wandering spotlight in a dark interior. Faces appear against vague landscapes or without settings to speak the names of others. A panning movement links the faces, allowing them to combine in essence, then in form. As the visages transform, the other implied in the spoken name loses otherness and all names come to de-note a commonality and singularity.

7. 1/4 Moon, 1986, 8:30 min.
A musician plays a violin to a black dog, a white horse, a sheep, lamb and chickens in a barn yard while it is raining at a small farm yard in Clam Harbour, Nova Scotia. The hand held camera wanders, documenting the violin player and the animal audience.

8. Don't Eat Crow, 1994, 29:00 min.
Don't Eat Crow, a somewhat situational piece, consists of an audio narration by Katherine Grevatt, an unpublished novelist who lives along the South Shore of Nova Scotia. For a full day David Askevold set up a feeder to see the reaction of the crows (who regularly fly around his backyard) to his camera he had placed on a tripod nearby. The resulting footage is juxtaposed with the letters Grevatt wrote to long time friend Norma Ready between October 1993 and July 1994. Background sound consists of appropriated music from the radio and original keyboard music by Askevold created while listening to the three tracks and viewing the edited footage.

9. Two Hanks, 2003, 25:30 min.
This piece is about placing two major recording artists on the same stage together after they have been dead for some time. Since Hank Snow and Hank Williams never performed together during their lifetimes this was a way to bring them together with their two songs,
Rambling Man and I’ve Been Everywhere. The thereminist, Scott Marshall, takes the two songs to another place. Footage of the audience, which was built into the construction of the work, constitutes a component of the video.

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