Tell It Like It Is: Candor in Contemporary Video Art
A community chorus stands on the streets of Chicago complaining in harmony about airport
security, bad kissers, and tourists. A montage of Hollywood film clips shows African
American maids talking back to their white employers. A young woman from the Bronx
creates a YouTube video and translates academic art-speak into teenage vernacular:
“Identity politics is when people be makin’ artwork about who they are, like who am
I, what am I. . . Right, like basically, who’re your peeps.” All three scenes will
be screened in the Ulrich’s video program Tell It Like it Is: Candor in Contemporary Video Art.
This program taps a public desire for straight talk and love of humor. Constantly,
it seems, news reporters parse our political leaders’ statements to tell us what their
speeches really meant, to cut through the rhetoric and reveal the message underneath.
Television comedians, such as The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, then lodge barbs and jabs at these media personalities for muddying
the conversation with their own agendas and opinions.
Casting both the politicians and the news media in jokester roles, they use humor
to cut to the quick of serious topics. Many contemporary artists similarly employ
wit and jest to speak plainly about thorny subjects.
Comprising Finnish duo Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen and Tellervo Kalleinen‘s ongoing Complaints
Choir project, Australian Tracey Moffatt’s 1999 video Lip, and Bronx-based Wanda Raimundi Ortiz’s continuing series Ask Chuleta, the Ulrich’s
spring video program, Tell It Like It Is: Candor in Contemporary Video Art, features examples of these strategies in action.