There is a bit of a grey area in the Nanny Cam film screening because while it does only includes videos made by people who do not have a degree in Fine Art, the open call never dismissed submissions from art's close neighbours Fashion, Photography, Architecture etc. It’s pedantic but we allowed it because as Fine Art graduates ourselves, all we know of production is the specific creative stress that ferments in those studios, where students work off of tutor-fed references and churn out hot-take art in all its dimensions. This screening is a moment for us to think beyond artist egos and crits and examine how other epistemologies are organising their thoughts n form; and this goes for fields of study as well as jobs. its interesting 2 me
I spoke to Herb Shellenberger about his involvement in Nanny Cam and about how he’s coming to it from this exact tangled position. In his BA, Herb studied Art History and Philosophy, actually starting as a Political Science major, he told me over Skype. ‘And then I had a bunch of years between that and my grad programme when I worked at this cinema in Philadelphia and did a lot of self-directed study either through watching things there or just reading and watching a lot of stuff on my own, going to exhibitions and film series and things. In my Masters I did a course at Central Saint Martins, a research Masters on Artist Moving Image. It wasn’t about making work, it was about studying this area between Film and Contemporary Art, and that crossover today and historically; from the first experimental films and early cinema, through to video art and moving image today in galleries. I’ve never really had any instructions on making work myself and I don’t do it by and large.’
Herb graduated from his MRes last summer and now works as a curator. You know how for 2016 Kylie Jenner predicted we would realise things, I honestly in my heart feel that this year is about quality over quantity. ‘Since 2016, I’ve done a lot of curating, a fair amount of writing, and this year the thing that I’m working on in terms of that is trying to do less programmes or projects but make them bigger. The film series I did at the Tate which was on American Experimental Animation, I’m trying to tour that and show it in other venues. We’re working on some things in the states where some of the artists will be present and hopefully in Spain and Belgium as well.’ i like this sentiment bc when you’ve worked to organise something so full and right, u should share it as much as you can (I also went to see that at the Tate and it was amazing) (also we are following this philosophy with the white pube screenings so keep ur eyes peeled bc we are coming to a location near you) (omg will I shut up and let herb speak). ‘I want to put together something and have it be really good, and have it not just be a once and done sort of thing. There’s this screening I put together of videos that I call post-punk videos that were made by women in the states from the late 70s to the late 90s. It was a project I did researching into this online archive of videos that were digitised and put together, I guess kind of like Nanny Cam: a mixtape screening of a lot of different kinds of things, short works, excerpts. It’s 70 minutes long. I’ve been trying to show that. I’m making it available to people to see and to show.’ The videos involved all have Free Public Performance Rights so they can be exhibited as long as events aren’t ticketed. ‘I’ve said to people if this inspires you and you think it’s interesting, set up a screening the way that you want to - whether it’s just a screening, or you have a band play. So it’s showed at this squat, this artists studio in Berlin, and they had some DJs and a party. It’s showing tomorrow night at Yale University in the United States, so that’s definitely more of an academic thing. They’re having a panel discussion afterwards with someone that’s doing their Masters dissertation on feminist self-publishing. It’s shown in Taiwan, Philadelphia and we’re working on a screening in London. I want it to be something that is hopefully interesting and relevant to a lot of different people and can be presented in different ways too.’ YALE haha I like that you can do 90% of the curating and then pass it around and see how other people fill in the blanks. I never thought of that. i think it’s lovely.
there’s a kind of amazing distance to study and work so closely with film and just keep on that curating side and away from making. but here we r curating the curator back. i have probably super built this up to be a ground-breaking moment where this open call has discovered Herb Shellenberger is actually a masterful filmmaker and u could say that. But basically Herb submitted a two and a half minute phone video of a seagull and it’s like an internet-David-Attenborough very weird clip that makes me think of the void but also memes and animals in general. ‘Well, I love seagulls. I like when they’re huge and have bad attitudes.' Herb was in Hastings, hanging about for a minute when he saw the following. 'So this huge seagull I saw swooping down and I didn’t really know what he was gonna do but I started videoing it and he’s grabbing at this bag which has leftover crab fingers in it (ha ha ha) - a plastic bag that was tied shut and cinched but then just tossed onto the ground. I just sat there and watched him diligently try to open it and pick away at the little bits of whatever that were left. It took him a while but he got it open and starting eating it and then the other seagulls started swooping down and he kicked their asses and made them fly away. And then he’s walking away, and yeah. It was just this scene that happened and something that was on my camera roll that I watched myself a bunch and was fascinated by. I didn’t really do anything to make it, it could have been anyone’s video really. And it’s too long? It’s really short but it’s also too long, which I like about it. I like that it’s just kind of nothing. It gets really dramatic at certain points.’
well there u have it. seagull videos and bad attitudes. thank you herb for being a part of the screening. it is going to be so dramatic.