Below Sea Level is a video and sound work filmed in post-Katrina New Orleans and the surrounding wetlands, one of the fastest disappearing coastal areas on the planet. The work engages viewers in a contemplation of a landscape, damaged by human intervention, that nevertheless struggles to retain its vitality. The event is part of this year’s New York Electronic Art Festival.
[Jul 19-21] Paweł Wojtasik: Below Sea Level
Video installation with surround sound by Stephen Vitiello
Paweł Wojtasik / Stephen Vitiello
Friday, Jul 19, 7pm Opening
Sat/Sun, Jul 20/21, 3-7pm Installation
Harvestworks – www.harvestworks.org
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker
Below Sea Level is a video and sound work on the theme of post-Katrina New Orleans and its surrounding wetlands, both of which were devastated in 2005. The Louisiana wetlands are one of the fastest disappearing coastal areas on the planet, eroding at a rate of one football field’s worth of land every 45 minutes. Below Sea Level presents this disappearing landscape where water is the dominant element that gives life to the city of New Orleans and its environs, while at the same time threatening to overwhelm and destroy them.
Below Sea Level is a single-channel variation of the 360-degree panoramic piece of the same title which premiered at MASS MoCA in 2009 and was recently part of the Prospect.2 biennial. The composition Buffalo Bass Delay, by Stephen Vitiello, forms the basis for the soundtrack in the present work. With its mysteriously threatening atmosphere and industrial overtones, it harmonizes well with the images of defunct oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the anthropocene era we are all affected by the collision of nature and relentless human activity, as Hurricane Sandy demonstrated recently. Below Sea Level engages viewers in a poetic contemplation of the elements and the effects of human intervention.
This project is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (www.NYSCA.org www.eARTS.org).
Paweł Wojtasik is a filmmaker and video artist born in Łódź, Poland in 1952 and currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. Wojtasik lived in Tunisia before immigrating to the U.S in 1972. He received an MFA from Yale University in 1996. From 1998 until 2000 Wojtasik was a resident at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Buddhist monastery. Many of his works are concerned with the intersection of human activity and the environment. Dark Sun Squeeze (2003), filmed at a sewage treatment plant, was part of Greater New York 2005 exhibition at PS1/MoMA. Wojtasik’s work The Aquarium (2006), a collaboration with writer Ginger Strand, deals with the destruction of the ocean life, while his 360-degree panoramic video installation Below Sea Level (2009), with sound by Stephen Vitiello, concerns itself with the plight of New Orleans. Next Atlantis, a collaboration with composer Sebastian Currier, had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in 2010. That same year, At the Still Point, a 5-channel installation filmed in India, with soundscape by Stephen Vitiello, was shown at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, NY. Wojtasik’s film Pigs was shown in the New York Film Festival (2010) and Berlin Film Festival (2011) and won the grand prize in the short film category at the Hong Kong International Film Festival (2011). Wojtasik was a featured artist of the 2009 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. In 2012 he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to make a feature-length film on the theme of labor in India. Most recently Wojtasik has been named a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) fellow in Video/Film. His work is represented by Video Data Bank.
Stephen Vitiello is an electronic musician and media artist. His sound installations have been presented internationally including at MASS MoCA, the 2002 Whitney Biennial, the 2006 Biennial of Sydney, the Cartier Foundation, Paris and in public spaces including on the High Line in NYC. Forthcoming exhibitions include Soundings: A Contemporary Score at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Vitiello has collaborated with such artists and musicians as Nam June Paik, Tony Oursler, Pauline Oliveros, Julie Mehretu, Steve Roden and Ryuichi Sakamoto. His work is the subject of a 27- minute documentary produced by Australian TV. Vitiello has received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts, Creative Capital funding in the category of Emerging Fields, and an Alpert/Ucross Award for Music. Originally from New York, Vitiello is now based in Richmond, VA where he is an Associate Professor in the department of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University.