In 2014, two 12-year old Wisconsin girls stabbed a classmate nineteen times and left her for dead to appease the Slender Man, a fictional character created on an online forum. Is this a sign that storytelling has reverted back to its medieval ways?
What similarities does the Slender Man have to Cinderella and the Bible – the most cinematically adapted stories? The Made in NY Media Center by IFP presents an exhibition of video, projection mapping, and live oral storytelling works by Jake Yuzna that examine the striking state of storytelling in today’s global village.
Taking inspiration from The Gutenberg Parenthesis, Yuzna’s exhibition “The Future is Medieval Today” presents a series of new works that each examine a genre of cinema including narrative, documentary, and experimental.
The Gutenberg Parenthesis speculates that we have entered a new period of storytelling, which recalls our oral traditions found before the printed word; a time when stories were ephemeral. Narratives were easily shared, manipulated and changed by everyone who experienced them. The Gutenberg Bible, considered to be the first mass printed book, kicked off a new era when stories were fixed to a printed book or film, which may have ended with the birth of the internet.
Are these fixed tellings an anomaly in the history of storytelling? No longer is a printed book or film considered the “definitive” version of the story, but instead stories are altered, adapted, and manipulated as they are told and retold via a myriad of media. Now, a news story has many sides and spins, slash fiction is created to continue the tales of favorite characters, and historic cinema is recut and reorganize into new creations.
Together these works present a portrait of the fluidity of storytelling in cinema today and how its present appears to be as much from the future as the past.
Jake Yuzna is a NYC-based director. His work has been presented at the Berlin Film Festival, New Museum of Contemporary Art, British Film Institute, Oberhausen Film Festival, Red Cat of Los Angeles, & Strelka of Moscow, among others. For this work, Yuzna has received fellowships from the Creative Capital, Jerome Foundation, Philanthrofund Foundation, Frameline Foundation, Creative Time, State Arts Board of Minnesota, IFP, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
His debut feature film, Open, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, where it became the first American film to receive the Teddy Jury Prize. Open was also awarded Best Narrative Feature at the Tel Aviv Film Festival, Best Performance at NewFest, and for the film, Yuzna was named a Four in Focus Filmmaker by OutFest. In 2010, Yuzna founded the first cinema program at the Museum of Arts and Design and went on to curate the Museum’s inaugural biennial in 2014. In addition, Yuzna has curated the first American retrospective of Alejandro Jodorowsky, the first series to examine the medium of VHS, as well as surveys on artists including William Klein, Takeshi Murata, Quentin Crisp, and Gregg Araki. Yuzna has also curated performance, design, education, and social practice projects for the Museum as well as for the 4th Moscow Biennial, Performa: the NYC Binnial of Performance Art, and authored the book THE FUN: The Social Practice of Nightlife in NYC.