Dallas Medianale will open Thursday, April 27, with a screening of a documentary about musician and experimental artist Tony Conrad.EXPAND
Dallas Medianale will open Thursday, April 27, with a screening of a documentary about musician and experimental artist Tony Conrad.
courtesy Dallas Medianale

Experimental Film Festival Returns for a Second Year With a Shorter Lineup, Sharper Focus

A lot has changed in the two years since the last Dallas Medianale. In March 2015, the new experimental media arts festival closed two months of screenings, exhibitions and performances at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary (MAC), promising to return biennially. Dallas Medianale is preparing to keep that promise later this month, but with new locations and a much condensed schedule of experimental works, many focused on the things making today's audiences anxious.

Its original home, the MAC, has moved across town to the Cedars, and the schedule of events has been reduced to a snappy three days. The fest, presented by the Video Association of Dallas and derived from the organization's long-running VideoFest, will take place from April 27-30 at multiple venues across the city, including the MAC's new location.

Michael Morris, a video artist, educator and curator of both editions of the festival, says this year's lineup follows the model of the 2015 Medianale in many ways — with intermedia performances, installations and screenings that will showcase a diverse array of international and regional artists.

"The main difference is that this year, we're partnering with several institutions and trying to focus the event to primarily one weekend," Morris says. "We hope this is a more focused statement about the current state and history of experimental media art."

While there isn't an official theme to the festival this year, since the majority of the work was chosen from an open call, Morris notes that "anyone will be able to see patterns in the work of the contemporary makers: anxieties around ecological disaster, artificial, endless war and violence are common themes.

"Several artists are proposing different relationships to the landscape and the planet, while others are examining artificial intelligence and digital bodies," he continues. "All of these things are different ways of trying to process the current moment through media."

This year's Medianale will begin at the Texas Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, with a screening of the documentary Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present, followed by a screening of Conrad's experimental short film The Flicker (1966) and a musical tribute to the artist, who died in 2016.

On Friday, April 28, the MAC and Ro2 Art will host exhibitions by experimental artists Ian Haig, Sean Miller and Eve LaFountain as well as audio-visual performances by Kristin Reeves, Limited Hangout, Karine Fleurima and Therefore. Exhibitions open at 7 p.m., and performances begin at 7:30.

From noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 29, five programs of new experimental film and video works, curated by Morris, will screen at the Dallas Contemporary. One of those films is Tribulation 99 (1991), a counter-culture classic from acclaimed underground filmmaker Craig Baldwin. Morris says that he's been a fan of Baldwin's work for some time, and that screening Tribulation 99 "made perfect sense, because of the absurdity of our political moment."

At 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30, a selection of films titled Synesthésie, curated by Frank Dufour and featuring a film by Austin-based artist Scott Stark, will screen at the Nasher Sculpture Center. From 9 p.m. onward, the Medianale will close at the MAC with Dallas Ambient Music Nights.

Morris says he wanted to partner with Dallas Ambient Music Nights in part because "they've become a kind of institution for connection between this kind of visual art and experimental music over the last year or so, and it made sense to build a bridge between the community that has gathered around their monthly showcase and the audience that attends events like the Medianale."

Dallas Medianale, April 27-30, multiple locations. Tickets to Texas Theatre are $6 to $14, and the closing event at the MAC has a suggested donation of $10. The rest of the events are free, some with RSVP. For more info, visit dallasmedianale.com.

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