The magician king & the apprentice {1900}

Alysse Stepanian

2013, black/white/sepia, stereo,16:9, no dialogue video by Alysse Stepanian (United States) music by Philip Mantione (excerpt from 4Minus4, 2010) performed by Alysse Stepanian & Nietzsche Having lived in Iran and in the U.S., I have come to realize that dictatorships and democratic power structures have more in common than meets the eye. Patriarchal societies are built upon the hierarchical systems that they are designed to protect, holding economically advantaged human males in dominant positions. Borrowing from the cinematic style of the popular trick films produced around 1900, this work exaggerates and brings attention to power relationships such as master/slave, male/female and human/animal. The Edison Company’s trick films benefited from the innovations of the French filmmaker Georges Méliès also known as the first "Cinemagician". The light bulb and simulated electric currents in this video foreshadow Thomas Edison’s 1903 attempt to discredit his rival, Nikola Telsa’s alternating current system by demonstrating its dangers via the electrocution of Topsy the elephant and other animals. The background painting is part of my early investigations of the power of the flag, nationalism and patriotism as a means of control. The music is by my life partner, Philip Mantione (excerpts from 4Minus4, 2010). It was made from sound samples of antique music boxes and a Wurlitzer jukebox. Ordinarily I don’t favor the use of nonhuman animals in art; however, Nietzsche the dog was not harmed in the making of this work and he received many treats, much praise and playtime.
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