True Fairy Tales

When 8 Mar 2021 - 11 Mar 2021
Where Microscope
1329 Willoughby Avenue, #2B
Brooklyn, NY 11237
United States

Microscope is very pleased to present True Fairy Tales, an online screening program of works in video, film, stop motion animation, 3D animation, AI, and augmented reality by Kenneth Anger, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Tomi Omololu-Lange, Jonas Mekas, Michelle Nguyen, Anne Spalter, Ziyang Wu, and Ezra Wube centered around the topic of fairytales.

The eight works in the program, which include and combine diaristic, personal, narrative, collage, computer and AI-generated approaches, are less concerned with reimagining or updating Western fairy tales, but in the use of the fairy tale form to reveal the biases within them, to reclaim lost or distorted history, and as a way to grapple with horrors and gross inequities of our times.

In these works spanning 20 years since the twin towers fell — as captured by Jonas Mekas from his Soho roof in his video work “Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten” (A Fairy Tale From Old Times) to Anne Spalter’s 2021 “Fantasy Castles” featuring AI-generated images of castles at a time when the US billionaires could give away $3,900 to every American from their gains amassed during the pandemic alone and still have profited from it — themes of erasure, feminism, racism, colonialism, power and greed feature prominently.

A live Q&A via chat with several of the artists will begin at 8:30pm ET on Monday March 8th.


Fantasy Castles
By Anne Spalter, HD video, 2021, 56 seconds

A dreamlike sequence of AI-invented castles. Original audio.

By Tessa Hughes-Freeland, video, 2010, 6 minutes 53 seconds

Gift re-contextualises a fascination with various states of altered consciousness represented in two popular childhood narratives, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Gift as a title is a double entendre. In the German language it means poison or drug. In this instance, it also relates to the gift given by the good fairy godmother to the princess as a baby: being the power to undo the spell of death through a finger prick, which was cast by the evil and ugly witch, by modifying it to a deep sleep. A surrealistic narrative is created where, by means of similarities and juxtapositions, different realities are collapsed into one. There is a certain irony in creating such a narrative which revels in the popular romanticism of a sleep state, as a way of opening the door to an interior world of unconscious realities and alternative universes. — THF

Una Favola Vera (A True Fairytale)
By Ezra Wube, HD video, 2020, 8 minutes 7 seconds

Inspired by an unaccomplished personal project, in this animation I’m exploring ideas of intention, extension and failed romanticism. I used images and texts from mass produced postcards, packaging, calendar booklets, books, posters and pamphlets that were created and used as political propaganda devices for the invasion of Ethiopia by Fascist Italy during WWII. Some of these prints were on the front covers of school notebooks, some were games that taught the geography, history, and natural resources of Ethiopia. In some games, the winner was the first to capture the capital city, Addis Ababa. — EW

By Michelle Nguyen, video, 2015, 1 minute 50 seconds

A look at the ideology of beauty and oblique portrayal of women in classic fairy tale films and literature, Specimen challenges the concept of the male gaze and suggests the grim reality of what it means to be the fairest of them all. — MN

Mouse Heaven
By Kenneth Anger, video, 2004, 10 minutes

Anger’s spirited celebration of Mickey Mouse reveals his consummate skills as an editor, able to musically interweave a staggering profusion of Mickeys, a panoply of shapes and sizes that suggest the multiple lives of a popular cultural icon who has truly taken on almost religious dimensions. (Harvard Film Archive)

The Story of Lightning & Thunder – Pop Up Book & Augmented Reality Book Experience
By Tomi Omololu-Lange, two-channel HD video, 2017, 2 minutes 4 seconds

This project is an adaptation of a Nigerian children’s story explored through two different types of immersive experiences rooted in time. For a child in the pre-digital age, a pop-up book created a multi-dimensional world that was literally within the child’s hands and in their control. How that is experience today is much different. In our screen-based world, that little girl today, delights in picking up a screen to experience a wide number of stories. Stories that are able to create another layer of excitement to reading and listening to books. This work is a responsive journey observing how the adventure of children’s books has been and continues to enriched and engaged the listener or reader on an interactive and immersive level. — TOL

The Story of the Pig
By Ziyang Wu, HD video, 2016, 8 minute 42 second

The Story of the Pig brings the viewer through to an absurd techno world where pigs adopt human-like debased actions, clicking photos of each other as they perform, breeding conformity and haplessly surrendering their freedom – They are destroyed by power in the first chapter (A world related to George Orwell’s 1984) and self-destroyed by entertainment in the second chapter (A world related to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World) of the video. I appropriated the song “Fantastic Baby” from the Korean pop band BIGBANG, in which the pigs become infatuated with pop culture and ultimately become fans themselves of BIGBANG. BIGBANG’s “Boom Shakalaka” takes control of everything. The pigs lose their inner feeling and both their rational and creative spirit from a grotesque overdose of stimulation, entertainment and desire. — ZW

Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten (A Fairy Tale From Old Times)
By Jonas Mekas, video, 2001, 5 minutes 54 seconds

The title comes from a poem of a German poet, Heine. The 9/11 event was so beyond my comprehension – you can understand and react to a death of one, or two persons‚ but I could not react to the death of 2500 people – it was an abstraction, a fairy tale – that’s why I framed my 9/11 film (shot from my roof) with the fairytale, with the image watching this story, the story of 9/11. Like any other fairy tale coming from the past – by this girl this child dreaming, listening, and dreaming about the tales coming from the past. ― JM

For more information please click here.

Image courtesy of the event organizer.