Stacey Steers: "Night Hunter"

Denver Art Museum's Fuse Box (4th floor, Hamilton Building)

February 11 - August 14, 2011

  • Wednesday, May 18th at 7:00pm: Stacey Steers speaks as part of the Spring 2011 "Logan Lectures" series (Hamilton Building, Lower Level)
Lilian Gish from Stacey Steer's Night Hunter at the DAM

One of my all-time favorite art films is Joseph Cornell's
1936 "Rose Hobart," a remix of the 1931 feature film "East of Borneo" which transforms lead actress Rose Hobart's dramatic gestures into a recontextualized masterpiece of innuendo and mystery hidden within the original film.

Stacey Steers handcrafted film "Night Hunter" revisits Cornell's groundbreaking work, with a few twists, literally tearing D.W. Griffith's starlet Lilian Gish off the surface of silent era films by hand, and into a twisted storybook of snakes, gestation, and feminine angst told within the visual framework of shimmering 19th century B&W illustrations subtly infused with streaks of red.

The hypnotizing visual mashup is masterfully enhanced by a chilling soundscape of music and effects put together by collaborator and composer Larry Polansky, and the resulting film is more like a visual poem than actual tale, although just as in Cornell's Hobart, the wonderful emotion of leading lady Gish cannot be denied the starring role, even if only in fits and starts.

And if Steer's 4 years of handcrafted cinema isn't compulsive enough, the film is accompanied by the "Night Hunter House," a miniature mock up of the film's imaginary sets complete with fully furnished rooms and tiny TV screens with clips from the video. It goes without saying that you must budget 15 minutes out of your museum visit in order to take in the entire film (I couldn't resist seeing it twice as I initially walked in mid-loop) but be sure to also invest some time into studying the intricate details of the films recreated house as well. - KLH

(from the press release)

Meticulously crafted from approximately 4,000 handmade collages and incorporating frames from silent-era live-action cinema, Night Hunter evokes a disquieting dreamscape drawn from allegory, myth, and archetypes.

Images from early silent films featuring actress Lillian Gish are combined with 18th- and 19th-century engravings to create rich, timeless, and imaginative environments. The narrative unfolds intuitively and reveals itself in the process of construction. Transitions, both biological and metaphorical, are central themes. In some instances Gish is cut out of specific scenes and reconfigured in collage environments, while collage materials are applied directly to printed film frames in others.

Night Hunter was shot on an Oxberry animation stand using a Mitchell 35mm camera. There are approximately eight distinct handmade collages for each second of screen time. The film, which took more than four years to complete, is accompanied by eight collages and a dollhouse sculpture.

Denver Art Museum

100 W 14th Ave
Denver, CO 80204