Dani and Sheilah ReStack worked on a short experimental video commissioned by Maria Petschig for “The Journey” anthology. This new piece includes footage shot at MacDowell and Cunningham Pond. We also worked with fellow residents who played parts in our fiction. The work will be premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna in December 2019. The ReStacks premiered Come Coyote at the New York Film Festival in October 2019.
Dani ReStack describes the creation of her moving-image works as a process of “accumulation and excision.” In videos such as Sister City and the companion piece Platonic (both 2013), ReStack collects and chisels moments, stories, and images, placing them within loose constellations rarely unmarked by the specter of death. Leventhal shoots her own footage, often involving individuals who are close to her, but treats the resulting images almost as a bank of found material to be manipulated and recontextualized through montage. Her cutting is intuitive, not systematic. Micronarratives of birth, aging, awkwardness, and pain gradually take shape without ever fully congealing, as ReStack allows her images to breathe even as she transforms their tenor through assemblage. The textures of the everyday are refracted through an intimate sensibility that dwells in the vulnerability of our fleshy bodies, our need for care and communion—and our cruelty.
ReStack frequently turns to animals—dead and living, domesticated and wild—as part of her exploration of how bodies, of whatever species, inhabit the world. She pays no mind to traditional hierarchies, allowing not just horses and cats into her bestiary, but roadkill and anemones, too. A similarly egalitarian ethos pervades her organization of the many fragments she brings together in these lo-fi, diaristic works. The utterly commonplace might stand next to a fleeting moment of beauty or a recounted episode of brutality—all are accorded equal status under Dani ReStack’s gaze. The fragile bodies and relationships between people that appear onscreen find themselves redoubled by the delicacy of the accords between ReStack’s images and sounds: a snake fiercely devouring a mouse cuts to a child in a superhero costume; a luminous jellyfish is accompanied by asynchronous sound, in which a woman asks incredulously, “How can someone say there’s no God?” In other hands, the combination of radically heterogeneous materials can figure as a violent leveling of specificity. ReStack, however, brings a tremendous sensitivity to the unlikely connections she forges, creating force fields of affinity and difference that extend across human, animal, and environment.