. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

Eyes Wide Open: Videos by Dani Leventhal

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 6pm | Dani Leventhal in person!

Dani Leventhal, Show and Tell in the Land of Milk and Honey (2007). Image courtesy of the artist.
Dani Leventhal, Show and Tell in the Land of Milk and Honey (2007). Image courtesy of the artist.

At once tender and savage, Dani Leventhal’s astonishing video diaries capture the banal and the horrific to reveal the transcendent beauty and pain of daily life. In the award-winning Draft 9 (2003), Leventhal cuts between skinned animals, well-fed pets, her grandfather’s Holocaust-tattooed arm, and her own romantic liaisons to create, in the words of critic Genevieve Yue, “something that is extraordinarily immediate, both fresh and painful, hard to watch and yet impossible not to watch. In Show and Tell in the Land of Milk and Honey (2007), Leventhal juxtaposes bucolic shots of farm life with tales of sexual harassment and sick chickens while living and working in Israel; in 9 Minutes of Kaunaus (2007), she captures the fantasies of a wide-eyed boy whose older brother serves in the Israeli army. Also on the program: Picnic (w/Steve Reinke, 2006) and 3 Parts for Today (2007). Co-presented by the Video Data Bank. 2003—07, Dani Leventhal, various countries, Beta SP video, ca 65 min.


Draft 9

2003, Beta SP video, 28 min.

“This movie was collected for four years before being sprayed scattershot over 28 minutes of psychic mayhem. The line between living and dead is a frontier crossed and re-crossed here. The living are dead while the dead are animated, breathing, swimming, giving birth. Consumed by the animal life of the city, the artist undertakes a first person journey, producing diary notes from one of the most skilled lens masters of the new generation. The camera is her company in this duet of death, the instrument that permits her to see the impossible, the unbearable, the invisible.” –Mike Hoolboom for International Film Festival Rotterdam


w/Steve Reinke, 2006, Beta SP video, 3 min.

Picnic, is a collaboration with Dani Leventhal, and all of nature (with bits of culture).

9 Minutes of Kaunaus

2007, Beta SP video, 6 min.

“Inside a Lithuanian synagogue, young Domas Darguzs regales the filmmaker with a whispered, wide-eyed account of mythical events, while the film cross-cuts to images of farm-life. Kid brother of an Israeli soldier, Domas’s stories are part fantasy, part hopeful ruminations of a courageous, young mind interrupted only by an impatient adult.” –KJ Mohr

Show and Tell in the Land of Milk and Honey

2007, Beta SP video, 13 min.

In this piece Dani Leventhal recounts to camera her experiences of living and working in Israel, the fabled land of milk and honey of childhood lessons. With time spent in a metal factory and a battery farm for chickens, her harrowing tale includes stories of sexual harassment and sick birds. Against this background, there are idyllic images of bees and flowers, cows and calves, intimate caresses, dead birds. Every thing is worthy of Dani’s gaze, and is transformed by the encounter, becoming more human or sacred, and we are closer to the pain and beauty of being alive.

3 Parts for Today

2007, Beta SP video, 13 min.

Subtitled “The Refusenik,” “The Zealot,” and “The Father,” this video takes us on a journey where Germans, Turks, Israelis, Palestinians, fathers, grandmothers, daughters and animals are together for 13 minutes.


Dani Leventhal is a drawer, sculptor and video artist. In 2003 she received an MFA from The University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2007 she received the Visual Arts Award from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and a Book Arts Grant from the Women’s Studio Workshop.  Her video Draft 9 received the Directors Choice Award at the International Festival of Documentary Films in Jihlava, Czech Republic in 2005. Dani was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1972, she lives and works in Rosendale, New York.