New York City, NY
In Stand in the Stream, Stanya Kahn weaves together deeply personal and emphatically political imagery into a meditation on intimacy, alienation, and resistance. Both a work of mourning and a call to action, the film is also a documentary portrait of four generations of Kahn’s family: her grandmother, her mother, her son, and herself. MoMA PS1's exhibition is the New York premiere and first museum presentation of this work.
Built from footage Kahn shot primarily over the past six years, Stand in the Stream records the artist in the act of both living and seeing, culminating in her activist mother’s decline into dementia and eventual death in 2015, and in events leading up to and surrounding the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. In a rhythmic flow of images, punctuated by irruptions of protest, solidarity, and violence, Kahn’s film charts the intersection between private and public life in today’s America.
The film’s title refers both to the stream of digital images and to Bertolt Brecht’s play, Man Equals Man, which deals with the ways in which human beings are instrumentalized in the manner of machines. As Kahn connects to random strangers in internet chatrooms while wearing Halloween monster masks, or voyeuristically records anonymous riders on the subway, she plays with distinctions between the intimacy of family and the estrangement of contemporary life.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.