Winner of Jury Grand Jury Award, Best Experimental Short, SXSW Film Festival, 2008
This video is from the “American Cockroach” series. I raised the twenty different species that form the cast.
“The most perversely entertaining piece in the show [“Ecotopia” at ICP, NY], Catherine Chalmers’ video Safari, straddles the border between the real and the fanciful. This wordless, hallucinatory nature documentary is not precisely natural, nor exactly a documentary. Following the travails of a cockroach through a studio-constructed tropical paradise, its extreme close-ups present a world in which bizarre plants and animals engage in a constant dance of eat and be eaten. At the conclusion, a hopelessly anthropomorphic frog consumes the insect “hero” lasciviously spreading its front legs as if inviting applause. How does Chalmers’ over-the-top fable of consumption fit into the program of “Ecotopia?” It doesn’t have a message – certainly not one that could be reduced to a position paper or an Al Gore – style “truth.” Nor is it a call to action. Instead, like many of the most interesting works in the show, the video is oblique, depicting the natural world as utterly alien, yet strangely alluring. Successful art responds to social issues by complicating rather than simplifying them; the value of such projects lies precisely in this ambivalence.” Steven Stern, TIME OUT NEW YORK