video, acrylic paint, rhinestones
CATALOG ESSAY: Who Is Dave Greber, and What the Hell Is Brothy City?
by -Reggie Micheal Rodrigue
installed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
curator John Fields
"Hey! What’s up? I’m Dave Greber. I’m a video installation artist."
-Artist Jonathan Traviesa performing as Dave Greber in Greber’s video A.R.T.I.S.T.S.T.A.T.E.M.E.N.T. (2012)
Yes, Dave Greber is a video installation artist. He is also the reigning king, court jester, common denominator and connective tissue, pop-cultural provocateur, 21st century spiritual and metaphysical advisor, id, ego and superego of the burgeoning St. Claude Arts District in New Orleans. Sometimes he only plays one role, but more often than not, he plays all of them at the same time. In essence, Greber juggles multiple personalities and even multiple universes. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, art manifests.
Greber began making videos when he was twelve years old in Philadelphia, PA. He studied media production as a young man, and in 2005, he moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to produce documentaries, advertisements and independent films. However, the sirens’ song of the St. Claude Arts Scene lured him into becoming “an artist” in 2009, and since then, a wild succession of video installations and collaborations has enthralled the city and other places beyond.
The Fool, The Devil, The Hierophant, and The Wheel (2010) is the first major video installation of Greber’s oeuvre, which was presented as a site specific installation during Prospect 1.5 in New Orleans. It is a surreal approximation of the global game show Deal or No Deal processed through tarot cards in order to divine the unconscious forces driving humanity through the early 21st century. Open Arms (2011) also has a spiritual/metaphysical bent. This seven channel video installation is a celebration of Hindu, Buddhist and personal mythology that soothes as it seduces and excites the viewer with its cosmic cycles and loops. The videos that make up the Peekaboo Series (2011) seem more mysterious, dark and earthy by comparison. They evoke images of the jungles of Henri Rousseau or the swamps of Louisiana, yet they are rife with sublime techno-wizardry. It is within this series that Greber presented his first Stasseo video.
Stasseo is a videography technique that Greber created in order to fuse video with painting and sculpture. Greber projects masked video loops on painted surfaces that have been encrusted with reflected materials to create something akin to a moving stained glass window. Brothy City (2012) is Greber’s latest deployment of the technique. In this installation, which is the centerpiece of this exhibition and the largest work he has ever completed to date, Greber brings to life a panoramic view of b-movie horror based on the story of an outcast who unwittingly unleashes something mysterious and terrible on his new home, Brothy City. The installation can be read as a sly, if gory, comment on personal or civic status and the traps of fame; however, it is also open and abstract enough for viewers to bring their own demons to the table.
After all, everyone has tales to tell. Unlike most people out there, Greber accepts these tales with “open arms.” Then, he tweaks and unifies them in his own mercurial way to return them to the world with fresh, wondrous, sincere and/or satirical new insights into what it means to be human in this new century. This is Greber’s artistic broth and the sublime essence of Brothy City!