Video Art: The First 25 Years: Ever since portable video equipment became an affordable technology in the late '60s, a growing number of artists have employed the medium to make personal statements in a way film had never been used. The key words for the first generation of these artists were "portable" and "affordable"--for many video makers, accessibility was the driving force behind their passion for the medium. As the field expanded to include folks who came of age during a time when TV literally dominated their childhood, convenience took a back seat to the flowering of a genuine sensibility, a vocabulary, an instinct for the form influenced--believe it or not--by all those years watching sit-coms and variety shows. The Center for Research in Contemporary Art at the University of Texas at Arlington presents a retrospective of the revolution entitled Video Art: The First 25 Years. Four different programs, grouped roughly by theme, showcase 48 works by American artists, with a smattering of important Australian, European, and Latin American folks. Gender and Convention investigates sex roles; Autobiographical Voices features personal stories; Media and Process looks at the technology of electronic image-processing to create abstract forms and shapes; and Performance and the Body examines the incorporation of video art into live stage performance. Works by Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, and William Wegman are showcased next to newcomers like Sadie Benning and Cordelia Swann. The four programs that constitute Video Art are sheduled at different times through February 21 at the Center for Research in Contemporary Art, 700 W. Second on the grounds of the University of Texas at Arlington. It's free. For schedule information call (817) 273-2891.
Michael Moschen: The International Theatrical Arts Society (TITAS) features its second MacArthur Award-winning "genius" in a row. Indeed, like fellow recipient Mark Morris, who performed with his dance troupe last week, Michael Moschen is an unabashed entertainer, a man who has a higher opinion of the audience than the medium in which he toils--he'll bend it into pretzels if he thinks people will enjoy the result. But unlike Morris, Moschen works within an essentially populist art form--juggling. But calling Moschen a juggler is a little like calling Minnesota Fats a pool player--the terms don't begin to describe what they can do with their balls. Moschen combines rings, hoops, and spheres with elaborate props and light effects to create a kind of geometrical circus. A veteran of festivals all over the world, a frequent guest performer on everything from David Letterman's show to Sesame Street, he is part acrobat, part illusionist, part clown, but completely original. His work can make you feel as though you're hallucinating. Moschen performs February 3 & 4 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-6112.
The Door with Seven Locks and Death Kiss: The Major Theatre screens two rare noir thrillers together on one bill. Death Kiss (1930) is a creepy, atmospheric whodunit starring Bela Lugosi in top scenery-chewing form, well before he slid into his morphine-inspired Ed Wood abyss. The entire movie takes place on a film set where an actor is murdered during a scene and everyone is a suspect--including an unseen supernatural force that may or may not exist. The Door With Seven Locks (1940) is an English suspense tale about a dying man who bequeaths seven keys to seven people he doesn't like at all, so he can have the posthumous satisfaction of dispatching them in nasty and elaborate ways. Both movies screen nightly starting at 8 pm through February 9. A $6 ticket gets you into both shows. The Major Theatre is located at 2830 Samuell Blvd, off the Winslow Exit of I-30 in East Dallas. Call 821-FILM.
Bernie Siben: Cabaret veterans like singer Bernie Siben must feel at least a little contemptuous of Johnny-come-latelys like Connick, Feinstein, and Natalie Cole. The latter are just three examples of a wave of musicians who took jazz and show tunes out of the clubs and onto the charts, replacing atmosphere with slick professionalism. Yet the songs of Berlin and Porter and Gershwin and Sondheim really work best performed in a specialized context--amid the dim lights, clinking ice, and smoky air of a club, where squalor and intimacy collide to make the happy lyrics seem esctatic and the sad lyrics near-suicidal. Siben is a 20-year veteran of the Southwest and Southern club circuit whose resume also includes stage musicals and television. In his show "20 Years in Cabaret," he tackles old composers and new, with a collection of contemporary pop covers. Siben gives a show on February 3 and 4 at 10 pm at John L's, 2525 Wycliff in Oak Lawn. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information call 520-2525.