Images Sometimes Tremble

The Otolith Collective and The Showroom presents the first London screenings of Two Russians in the Free World (2012, 30mins) and Cloud Cuckoo Land (2008, 17mins), two single channel videos by the renowned New York based artists Erik Moskowitz and Amanda Trager.

Both works will be introduced by the artists and screened at 19.00pm on 1 February 2013 at The Showroom. The screenings will be followed by a discussion between Erik Moskowitz, Amanda Trager and Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun of The Otolith Collective. ( Please note The Otolith Collective is a public platform curated and produced by The Otolith Group).

Cloud Cuckoo Land (2008, 17m) explores the difficulties of living collectively through a confrontation with a contemporary American commune. In Two Russians in the Free World (2012, 30 minutes), a conversation between a maverick Russian billionaire and an impoverished performance artist develops into a meta-dialogue on narration and collaboration.

The single channel videos of Moskowitz and Trager are extracted from elaborate installations designed for exhibition. Since 2008, their work has explored the extimate dimension of the voice in its discrepant relation to projected images, reading bodies, anti-illusionist scenery and deprofessionalised performance. Ventriloquised characters, occupied by intimate voices that slide from decelerated speech to timestretched song, perform abstracted yet quotidian gestures. Themes of mental slippage and psychic mastery are played out in dramas whose only distant co-ordinates are the vernacular television opera of Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives (1984) and the dubbed recitations of R. Kelly's online serial Trapped in the Closet (2005- 2012).

Recent exhibitions include The Story of Elfranko Wessels at Studio 10, Brooklyn (2013) and Cloud Cuckoo Land at Meridian Gallery, San Francisco (2011). In 2013, their single channel videos were presented in the Artist in Focus Retrospective at Centre Pompidou.

Recent screenings include the International Festival of Rotterdam (2013) Rencontres Internationales Paris/ Berlin/ Madrid (2012) and International Short Film Competition, IndieLisboa for which The Story of Elfranko Wessels was awarded the Short Film Grand Prize.

This special screening of Cloud Cuckoo Land and Two Russians in the Free World is the latest event in the Images Sometimes Tremble screening series conceived and initiated by The Otolith Collective at The Showroom in 2009. In Chris Marker's essay film A Grin Without A Cat (1977-1993), a trembling camera records demonstrations in Prague in 1968. This document is intercut with words that combine to form the sentence: 'Why, sometimes, do images begin to tremble? This question, addressed by text to an event by way of image and sound, provides the inspiration for the Images Sometimes Tremble screening series.


Erik Moskowitz and Amanda Trager, Brooklyn artists, were born and raised in New York City. Their collaborative partnership began in 2008. They produce works that are presented cinematically and as installation. Video elements feature characters whose voices are baffled, replaced or augmented by dubbed singing to a ventriloquized effect. These voice tracks, which the artists compose, perform and record, mesh identities in a fauxtopian gesture while tapping darker desires to control and manipulate. Their own collisions and harmonies as married, collaborating artists further inform their narrative-based, audio-visual dialectics. Their past independent practices are key to their current one together. As a child, Moskowitz performed with the Wooster Group. More recently, he made audio/video-based works which incorporated song, and specifically the voice, as a departure point for examining cinematic and theatrical device within the gallery context. Earlier in her career, Trager made language-based sculpture and installation that employed invented narrative and character creation.

Still from Cloud Cuckoo Land, Courtesy of the artists.