On a chilly but pleasant afternoon, a group of people sat at tables in Soho art space Recess, poring over strips of film. One person scratches designs onto a strip, another adds metallic star-shaped stickers. Croatia-born artist Željka Blakšić, who also uses the name Gita Blak, has been conducting what she calls a “direct filmmaking workshop.” In it, 16mm film strips are directly altered through the use of collage, drawing, scratching, and other tactics. Each person’s customized film strip is individual, but soon they will all be assembled into one motley creation, fed into a projector, and screened for all its creators to behold.
The invitation for Seek: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy, at Soho’s Recess gallery, was a strange one, steeped in culty vibes. “Visitors are invited to make an appointment to meet with a consultant for their personal reading. Seek is the newest treatment from Institute for New Feeling. It offers individuals a clairvoyant reading generated by the misuse of online search engines.” An invitation for a free “reading?” Check. Sounds a lot like an E-meter reading. Arcane symbols? Check. The Institute’s website is replete with them. And hold up– the Institute? Yup. It’s a self-described “research clinic committed to new ways of feeling, and ways of feeling new” that offers “a rotating menu of wellness treatments, therapies, and retreats.” Right. Needless to say we got down there quicker than you can say “Scientology.”