Optic Nerve 14: Wall Portals, Eerie Puppets, and Winning Hound Dogs

Categories: Art
Juan Carlos Zaldivar Shift (Film Still).jpg
Juan Carlos Zaldivar, "Shift" (Film Still)
The 14th installment of Optic Nerve at the Museum of Contemporary Art proved an artist can achieve some mighty moments in the moving picture with less than five minutes to work with. The hour-long series of short films included 16 works by video artists from across the US.

The series maintained a dynamic diversity, as whittled down from 271 entries by a committee of five panelists, including the museum's executive director and last year's winner of the festival, Brain Bress, among others. The mix of shorts included witty concepts, social commentary, minimalist explorations of the medium itself and occasional narrative moments.

The winner of the festival, as chosen by the panel, was a local artist whose work had shown at Optic Nerve twice before. Miami Beach resident Juan Carlos Zaldivar offered one of the neater narrative moments: "Shift," a surreal experience with heart. The film had a stop motion feel, as it was composed of a series of still images. The technique worked well, as it incorporated what appeared to be hounds and pieces of hounds made of papier-mâché that ran through a wooded area by a seashore in a pack. As the dogs-- and pieces of dog-- lope about, the film intercuts a wandering person with a face seemingly made of similar material. This humanoid form wore an elaborate dress that looked like a hoopskirt made of mother of pearl. It appeared to be a freshly borne creature, as blue and red veins were still visible on its waxy arms. Costume and design added visual splendor to the film, whose climax arrives when the paths of these dogs, with their frozen growls, cross paths with the figure.

Hillerbrand + Magsamen, "Whole" (Film Still)
Stories are one thing, but the ability to activate and awaken the mind to a higher level was also on display. The one film that got the most laughs Dough Garth Williams' "Back and Forth" where a spray can was used by a character to reveal the other side of a wall to find himself and vice versa. Hillerbrand + Magsamen also revealed a new way to penetrate walls, as a family saws, hammers and tears through doors and walls to get around a home. It offered one of the more professionally lit and high-definition moments with a dramatic orchestral film score to boot.

Location Info


Museum of Contemporary Art

770 NE 125th St., North Miami, FL

Category: General

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"Shift" is a moving allegorical tale of self discovery stunningly achieved despite the time constraint. Atmospheric, emotional, intelligent and spiritual, it is a masterly accomplishment of filmwork and artwork combined. Anja Marais' arttistic vision digs deep below the surface of conventional wisdom and exposes universal human themes. The article shamelessly omits mentioning her by name. 













I am a huge fan of the sculptor Anja Marais' work which was featured in the short film 'Shift'. I always love seeing her new work. Congratulations on thier win!

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