The Bet Dave Greber 2-channel video installation 2011
I recently remade my first "art film", The Bet, for an exhibition at the Antenna Gallery in New Orleans in May 2011. The process was a great exercise in revisiting my personal consciousness at an age and exploring the cyclical nature of creativity throughout my life. At the age of 14, half of my age now, I experienced a period of explosive adolescent expression, based on a relatively sophisticated sense of humor and the discovery of a camcorder. I feel a similar creative freedom with my artwork now, this project is a link between these two periods of spiritual growth in my life.
The Bet (2011) Dave Greber 4:00 min HD Video Starring Drucilla Dumas and Angelina Francesca Cardarelli Pre-production consultation Jesse Wallace Production Assistance by Phil Rached Thanks to Kaitlin and Zoe, Jill, Dennis and Zalia, the AllWays Lounge, Katie, Natalie and Antenna
The Bet (1996) By Dave Greber and Jesse Wallace 7:00 min VHS
Wallace contributed this essay to the project:
In my adult life, I’ve been asked, on occasion: “What was the happiest time in your life?” Upon brief, but serious reflection, I’ve determined, with absolute certitude: “Age fourteen. Smoking cigarettes in the Roslyn Crick and making movies with Dave Greber in his Chalfont home between the backyard cornfields and the neighboring Updyke Estate. Positively, the happiest, most fruitful, and freely expressive days of my life.” The Bet (1996) is one of those capsules of experience, along with the more ambitious installments of the Bloodfest catalogue (the series of mystery and horror films Dave and I produced between 1996 and 1998), that captures the artistic dæmon of youth; when the misuse of a prop was enough to generate an entire fictive world; when a narrative could unfold from a silly whim of improvised dialogue; when the locus of pleasure was found in the perfomative process, rather than the product of the performance; when the mind had one sole and immediate imperative: Play! Growingly, I want it all back: a chaste spring, with shining faces, unsullied—like children in the infancy of artistic creativity; but time past does not regain. Our child’s play is latently put to work in higher sublimations of drive, like the sweatshops of art and other ambitions. It is hoped that what is maintained in The Bet (2011), with the casting of the young ladies, Drucillia and Angelina (age 4, and age 7, respectively), is the spontaneity and ingenuity of youth—not yet tainted by the reticence of late adolescence, the decadence of teenage hood, nor the dispassionate snobbery of adult phlegmatism. It is my contention that young adults are, today, driven wayward by the unhealthy repression of, and pathological manifestation of childlikeness, emulating the petulance, rather than celebrating the sublimity, of juvenile energies. This has led to the kind of contemporary androgyny that is at the root of “modern” sexual-character types such as the Bieberite androgynes, camp-stylists and hipsters, arty effemintellectuals, and the suburban teen-glitterati of our new millennium. The actors in both versions of the film exhibit the qualities and affectations that are eventually lost and so desperately sought after in maturity—all of those Mozartian flights of manner: the kinetic fluidity of movement, the ease of pantomime, the cheeky gaiety, the princely coquetry, the saucy precociousness, the sinister mischievousness, the giddiness, the utter innocence, the happiness—the components of character that, later in life, endure only as depreciative remainders, faintly written on the accounts- receivable ledger of age.
- Jesse Wallace (04/27/11)
Our primitive videos from this era were created by 14 year-old boys with a sophisticated sense of humor, shaped by punk music and B-movies in 1990's suburban Philadelphia. From the esoteric adaptation of Bubnoff and the Devil by Ivan Turgenev to the epic, original feature Deli Meat Massacre, in roughly 2 years we developed a four-hour body of scrappily-assembled narrative video work titled Bloodfest.
The Bet (1996) isn't the most ambitious or technically savvy short in the Bloodfest collection, but it is the most concise and the publicly soluble example our consciousness at the time. The Bet is based on Roald Dahl's "A Man from the South," which was adapted for television by Alfred Hitchcock, which was adapted for the big screen by Quentin Tarantino, which was adapted for television by Jesse Wallace and I, which has been adapted for gallery installation by me.
I adapted the The Bet (1996), by transcribing the improvised dialog of the original into a script for the young actresses to read. They were never shown the original piece, I wanted them to bring their own interpretation to the characters based on the text alone. I repeated some of the camera shots of the original as an homage and with the actresses watching themselves on a monitor, as Jesse and I had done 14 years earlier.
The Front: On Display?
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