Monday, 26 April 2010
Although the honour of the best version of the song goes to Odetta in my opinion, this version of the negro spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child is enchanting, and on many an occasion I have found myself revisiting it. The singer is Liz Mitchell of Boney M fame, her backing group the Les Humphries Singers from Germany. What makes this clip so special is its low VHS quality which blurs the singers' faces and interrupts the performance with jerky interference. The sound on the other hand, while not perfect, is as clear as a bell by comparison - it's as if nothing can hinder the song's awesome power. One Youtube commenter claims the video to be one of the "top 5 most beautiful things I have been exposed to on the Internet". Interestingly, there is a far higher quality colour version of the video floating around, but the experience is just not the same.
Seemingly inspired by both the cutesy serendipity of mumblecore and the lonely outsider motifs of Larry Clark's filmography, the works of cross-disciplinary collective Reining Nails often flip between different stories, exposing only the most emotional moments of each before moving on. This work, entitled Hail Cracking Cobra Eggs, shimmers with nostalgic minutiae and tragicomic characters, and it's easy to forget it's just five minutes long. The group are soon to shoot a feature film called Natalie Natasha.
Last but not least, a short documentary clip describing Touch, a piece of work by performance artist Janine Antoni. Although usually known for sculptures and performances evoking femininity, here she opens more questions about origin and perception. For this work, Antoni returned to her childhood home in the Bahamas, set up a strategic tightrope and walked along it, the camera's angle aligning the bowed rope with the horizon. It's short, but sweet.