the e-poets network Videotheque


the City Breath anthology, 2010

Borne from a collective passion to show contemporary art from South Africa, City Breath gave South African videomakers, poets, dancers, and performance artists a new vehicle to serve notice to other countries that South African artists hold their own in world affairs. It collected the creative videos of diverse urban artists of South Africa into a common venue, acting at once as a mirror for how the country might consider itself and its imagination, as well as a portal through which the world could see a fresh perspective of the country. The project was curated by Kai Lossgott.

City Breath
a scene from City Breath, 2010

City Breath first as a show, then as a DVD, was created from about 20 videos. The program prominently features videopoems. In the context of City Breath, these pieces frequently include poetry, but many pieces in the collection overall do not. Videopoems are built upon a selective mix of elements, any one of which may or may not be necessary to the finished piece: performance art, video art, music, animation, narrative, photography, dance and movement, audio art, spoken or text-based poems, and others. The concept of a videopoem is somewhat analogous to the concept of a symphonic "tone poem," as symphonic composers sought to create a figurative poem of sound in their orchestras. Here, there are no orchestras, but diverse artists do work in collaboration.

We are fortunate to have City Breath videos to show here. In keeping with the themes of poetry, written and spoken narrative, and performance at the heart of, the selection here is a subset of the entire City Breath program. It tends to focus on those videos where language art was a core element of the video artworks. The roles and implementations of the language vary. But they suggest a broad and sophisticated palette of expressions, conceptual premises, and production techniques rarely seen in a single collection of video artworks. And as varied as these pieces are here, they are only a subset of the entire City Breath program.

To watch videos in the City Breath collection, click on their titles under "videos" in the left margin. Credits in the video pages link to the videos' corresponding artists, and artist pages link back to their corresponding videos.

- Kurt Heintz, 2012

Biography information was supplied by the contributing artists. Program notes were contributed by the City Breath curator.