There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
This festival of absurdist video begins, appropriately enough, with the earliest extant work by the form’s puckish pioneer, Nam June Paik. Button Happening (1965), recorded on the very day Park purchased his first Sony Portapak camera, rather slyly depicts the artist buttoning and unbuttoning his jacket. The rest of the videos (Planet of the Vamps is pictured) all possess the same Fluxian waggishness Paik is known for. Christine Knoll’s Cassette Boys and Girls: #1 Kim is a detached depiction of one woman’s passionate cultivation of her mix-tape collection. And if you thought homegrown performance artists were grating, wait ’til you get a load of the French-Canadian version: Montreal’s Sylvie Laliberte espouses her nauseatingly precious worldview, which consists of loving “little white clouds” and pastel castles in The Tool Is Not Always a Hammer. A little more intriguing is Peggy Ahwesh’s She Puppet. Edited from Tomb Raider video-game footage, the film apparently “subverts the game and undermines its patterns of goals and rewards.” Meaning: Ahwesh accented images from Tomb Raider with a soundtrack that includes Sun Ra and peppered them with quotes from Sapphic sci-fi scribe Joanna Russ. So is it a feminist recontextualization of an objectified avatar and articulation of Ahwesh’s theory of Lara’s triad of personae: the alien, the orphan, and the clone? Or is Ahwesh just real bad at playing Tomb Raider? Either way, it promises to be a lot more entertaining than the Angelina Jolie vehicle from last year. The films screen at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799 (David Dunlap Jr.)