Past Film/Video | The Box


Part Two: Transmission and Translation


A triptych image, from left: a person with black hair and eyeglasses in a white shirt with their finger pointing upward. In the center a blurred image of a chin and mouth and on the right a person in a headband staring with mouth slightly agape

In connection with the exhibition Climate Changing: On Artists, Institutions, and the Social Environment, The Box features  In/Stability, a two-part video program that responds to questions surrounding the environment, access, and mobility.

Part one, Apocalyptic Landscapes, featured two works that critique the consequences of military and agricultural activity on our planet. Part two, Transmission and Translation, questions the supposed neutrality and transparency of language, revealing the social and ideological underside of spoken and written communication. The three component works will be on view in our building in March–June 2021, while Kristian Vistrup Madsen’s video Doing Time will be available to stream on this page.

Part Two | Transmission and Translation

Each of the three videos selected for Transmission and Translation focuses on a correspondence, framing communication in terms of mutual care and responsibility—or, as is often the case, as an occasion for misrecognition and failed mutuality. In Wu Tsang’s Shape of a Right Statement, the artist gives over her voice to an unseen but palpably present interlocutor, the late autism rights and nonbinary activist Mel Baggs. Kristian Vistrup Madsen’s Doing Time ruminates on the artist’s attempted pen pal correspondence with a man incarcerated in a California prison, an epistolary project that ultimately fails to gel. With Classified Digits, artist collaborators Christine Sun Kim (a recent Wex guest) and Thomas Mader performatively merge into a single communicative unit, each activating part of the lexicon of American Sign Language.

The artist Wu Tsang looks at the camera wearing a neutral cap and black shirt against a glittering curtain

Image courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix, NY

Wu Tsang
Shape of a Right Statement (2008)

In Shape of a Right Statement, filmmaker and performing artist Wu Tsang pays homage to autism rights advocate Mel Baggs, whose viral YouTube video “In My Language” (2007) launched the politics of neurodiversity—the acceptance and accommodation of variations in the human brain—into mainstream discourse. Facing the camera unwaveringly, Tsang reperforms a short segment from “In My Language,” translating Baggs’s original text-to-speech script (Baggs, who passed away in 2020, was nonverbal and communicated using a computer) into her own voice, embracing and amplifying Baggs’s critique of communicative norms. Filmed at the Silver Platter, a legendary Latinx/LGBTQ+ bar in Los Angeles where Tsang, who is trans, hosted her weekly party, Wildness (also the title of her eponymous, Wex-supported 2014 film), Shape of a Right Statement offers a gesture of solidarity and kinship that Tsang has likened to a “full-body quotation.” (HD video, 5:15 mins., courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix, New York)

A blurred image of two bodies

Image courtesy of the artist

Kristian Vistrup Madsen
Doing Time (2017)

Recounting an epistolary relationship with Michael, an incarcerated man serving a 12-year sentence in a California prison, Kristian Vistrup Madsen confronts the limits of correspondence across lines of race and nationality. Having selected Michael as a pen pal on the basis of their shared sexuality (both men are gay), Vistrup Madsen, who was based in London at the time, struggles to comprehend the predicament of his American correspondent: “I can’t imagine what your life is like…I can’t imagine what it is like to be brown, or in jail, or live in California.” Finding genuine communication impossible, Vistrup Madsen places their correspondence under the sign of narcissism, declaring it to have been a “way of…working through my own guilt: the awkwardness of asymmetry that stands in the way of a love affair with my own epistolary persona.” Pairing this confessional monologue with a montage of California stereotypes, from beach bums and suburban sprawl to Katy Perry and Britney Spears, Doing Time offers a white artist’s self-examination in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. (video, 10:44 mins., courtesy of the artist)

Artist Christine Sun Kim looks at the camera against a neutral background with her partner Thomas Mader's arms crossed in front of her (the only part of him visible in the shot). In large white capital letters reads the intertitle (ONE PERSON JUDGING AT THE SUPERMARKET CHECKOUT on top of the pair.

Image courtesy of the artists and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles.

Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Mader
Classified Digits (2016)

Staging laugh-inducing vignettes that evoke ordinary yet awkward social encounters—think an unexpected run-in with an ex or a glitchy Skype session—Classified Digits translates the dross of contemporary social life through the semiotics of American Sign Language (ASL). In this silent video, the artist couple Christine Sun Kim, a native ASL speaker, and Thomas Mader, an ASL learner, forms a single communicative unit: Kim stands with her arms held behind her back, while Mader, hidden behind her, gesticulates in sync with her facial expressions. An experiment in collaborative communication, Kim and Mader embrace the limitations of language as an opportunity for mutual coordination—a chance to hold, and to be held, in the break. (video, 5:28 mins., courtesy of the artists and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles)

White text over the background of a person that reads ONE PERSON JUDGING AT THE SUPERMARKET CHECKOUT

Classified Digits, image courtesy of the artists and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles 

An image of white text reading TWO PERSONS SKYPING WITH SPOTTY WI-FI

Classified Digits, image courtesy of the artists and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles 

A blurred image of a body

Doing Time, image courtesy of the artist 

An image of water washing ashore

Doing Time, image courtesy of the artist 

A person with black hair, eyeglasses, and a white shirt stands in front of a beige background. They are pointing the forefingers of their left and right hands to the ceiling

Classified Digits, image courtesy of the artists and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles 

A person in a headband standing in front of a shiny background. They are wearing a black shirt and their mouth is slightly agape

Shape of a Right Statement, image courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix, NY 

In/Stability is organized by Dareen Hussein and Anna Talarico, graduate students in the Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice MA program.

Cardinal Health
Kaufman Development

Rohauer Collection Foundation

Greater Columbus Arts Council
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
L Brands Foundation
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
Bill and Sheila Lambert
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation
Adam Flatto
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease
Arlene and Michael Weiss

Carol and David Aronowitz
Michael and Paige Crane
Axium Plastics
Fenwick & West LLP
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
M/I Homes
Ohio State Energy Partners
Regina Miracle International Ltd.
Washington Prime Group
Alene Candles
Lisa Barton
Fuel Transport
Russell and Joyce Gertmenian
Liza Kessler and Greg Henchel
Nancy Kramer
Matrix Psychological Services
Paramount Group, Inc.
Bruce and Joy Soll
Clark and Sandra Swanson
Business Furniture Installations
E.C. Provini Co, Inc.
Garlock Printing & Converting
New England Development
Our Country Home
Performance Team
Premier Candle Corporation
Steiner + Associates
Textile Printing
Andrew and Amanda Wise


Past Film/Video