benj gerdes

a portfolio not always in sync with internet time

On the Passage of Millions of People Through a Not Brief Enough Period of Time

by Benj Gerdes & Alina Viola Grumiller

Single-channel video, 30:00, 2004.

Statement (2004)

In 2001, billionaire Michael Bloomberg used almost 75 million dollars of his own money to win election to the office of Mayor of New York City.  Bloomberg paid roughly $100 for each vote he received and outspent his rival by a factor of at least 5 to 1.  In doing so he set a national spending record for a municipal election.

In 2004, the Republican Party on a national level looked to New York as the staging ground for their re-nomination of President George W. Bush.  In a heavily Democratic city under Republican control, there was little support citywide for such a plan, but next to no legitimate political means through which it could have been prevented. The 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC) drew a week of concentrated protest activities in multiple sites and involving the participation of many different peoples, beginning with a march of 500,000 the day before the convention convened.

This collaborative video essay uses footage and interviews shot during the 2004 Republican National Convention.  We videotaped a series of protest actions and other events occurring in public outdoor spaces, initially for independent media television reportage during each evening of the week of August 29 through September 2.

The formal decisions made in the shooting and editing of this piece arise out of our desire to portray dissent in manner which does not attempt to reproduce the formal structure of address of network and cable television news and the problematic relationship between event and viewer that go along with it.  In general, then, we are invested in some means of conveying a multiplicity of dissenting voices, excluded from mainstream media coverage, without collapsing them into a single narrative or authoritative voiceover.

We have also not sought to portray specific moments and locations in an indexical nature, but rather made connections across times and between points in a city.  In doing so we intentionally foreground questions around contemporary mass protest in increasingly privatized and militarized urban public spaces.  In a city as dense and tall as New York the relationship between architecture and the human body, addressed in terms not only of scale, but through surface or façade and social function, seems increasingly crucial grounds for contestation today.

Initial exhibition: Dumbo Short Film and Video Festival, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.


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On the Passage of Millions… | 2004 | projects