And Besides, It’s True
1 Apr 2021
7:00PM - 8:00PM
264 Canal St #3w
New York, NY 10013
In the past year, we’ve desperately sought connection and copresence, whether through endless Zoom meetings or a riot at the capitol. Of course, these events are sorted into affiliations that are life-affirming or malign, the constant question in the time of social distancing and conspiracy theories being, “Why are you together?” Everyone is now both detective and skeptic: perhaps you didn’t see everything on the ground, and perhaps you’re being too credulous of someone’s online account. At the same time, this epistemology of paranoia and doubt is met with a frantic will to believe, which often devolves into casting for allegiances—the no-true-Scotsman fallacy writ large. (No true populist would ever sell Gamestock, no true constitutional patriot would actually storm the Senate chamber, no true revolutionary would cast aspersion on Xi Jinping Thought.) This contradiction of skepticism and belief is often presented as a deeply American, incredibly recent phenomenon—a framing that is both ahistorical and geographically myopic.
Considering the antecedents and global breadth of the present moment, the event will begin with a screening of Nathalie Magnan’s 1996 short film Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu, et en plus c’est vrai! (There’s No Smoke without Fire, and Besides, It’s True!). Magnan, a French media theoretician, translator, and filmmaker, was best known for her participation in early listservs and queer feminist mediajammer activism. Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu, et en plus c’est vrai! is a dense refraction of the information landscape of the time that leapfrogs from French radio broadcasts to man-on-the-street prank interviews to clips from The Twilight Zone and Dr. Seuss’s World War II-era Private Snafu cartoons. Taxonomizing the symbols and stories of viral hearsay throughout human history, Magnan gives a portrait of le rumeur as both irresistible force and pre-internet manifestation of media literacy run amok.
Following Magnan’s film, artists Paige K. B. and Tiffany Sia will each give presentations of found footage and media clips, tracing the distribution of psy-ops, censored messages, and subversive appeals through such varied networks as Twitter Live and The David Letterman Show. K. B. will consider the comedic angle of American manifestations of LARPing as reality, from Andy Kaufman to QAnon; Sia will examine the Rashomoning of Hong Kong protest footage and its legal implications.
The screening will be followed by a discussion with K. B. and Sia, alongside Triple Canopy senior editor Matthew Shen Goodman and Spectacle volunteer Steve Macfarlane.
Paige K. B. is an artist, writer, and erstwhile editor from Los Angeles. She has been an editor at Artforum and Garage, and her writing has been published in numerous magazines and books since 2013. Her recent exhibitions include an illegal installation at 13 East 31st Street and a legal one at the Canal Street Research Association, a space run by the group Shanzhai Lyric. She is currently assembling a body of work for Documenta 13.
Tiffany Sia an artist, filmmaker, writer, and founder of Speculative Place, a project space in Hong Kong. She is the author of Salty Wet 咸濕 (Inpatient Press, 2019) the book-length sequel, Too Salty Too Wet 更咸更濕(Speculative Place, 2021), which serves as the basis for her exhibition “Slippery When Wet” at Artists Space. Sia is the director of the short, experimental film Never Rest/Unrest (2020), which has screened at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and will have its North American premiere at MoMA Documentary Fortnight. She is also part of Home Cooking, an artist collective founded by Asad Raza, and contributes to the group’s performance and reading series Hell Is a Timeline.
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Image courtesy of the event organizer.