FotoFest Exhibitions

Michael Robinson


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Click to enlarge and for more images


Michael Robinson’s 2007 film Victory Over the Sun takes its title from the 1913 Russian Futurist opera written by Kruchonykh and Khlebnikov in which the plot revolves around an angry group trying to capture and extinguish the sun. Robinson’s film surveys the abandoned grounds of three World’s Fairs—those in Seattle (’62), New York (’64), and Montreal (’67). Robinson’s father beautifully filmed the actual fairs back when they portrayed a hopeful and celebratory future. However, visiting the sites four decades later, Robinson learned how corporate and competitive the fairs actually were, and their “striving for the future” took on a darker meaning. To enhance the sinister undertones, Robinson has mixed science-fiction atmospherics with orchestral splendor and chanting drones that fall somewhere between the operatic and the ludicrous. The text being chanted is a mixture of excepts from Ayn Rand’s 1938 novella Anthem and Oscar Wilde’s 1894 play Salome, and the singular voice in the second section is from a scene in the 1987 film Masters of the Universe, where the villain Skeletor gains control of the universe and declares himself God. All three sources are about power and the connections between the reckless ego and the subconscious drive to end all things. The music is a string quartet version of the Guns N’ Roses 1992 ballad November Rain. And the chorus, “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain,” is in line with both the failed projections of the future asserted by the three world fairs and the apocalyptic quality of the now-abandoned spaces.


Michael Robinson was born in Plattsburgh, NY in 1981. Since 2000 he has created a body of film, video, and photography work exploring the poetics of loss and the dangers of mediated experience. His work has screened in both solo and group shows at a variety of festivals, avant-garde movie houses and galleries including: The New York Film Festival; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Sundance, Park City, Utah; CinemaTexas, Austin; The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Media City, Windsor, Ontario; Chicago Filmmakers, The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Viennale, Vienna; Tate Modern, London; The London Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Germany; and Hong Kong International Film Festival. Robinson’s films have been awarded at nu-merous festivals, and have been discussed in publications such as Cinema Scope, Art Papers, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice and Time Out New York. Robinson l holds a B.F.A. from Ithaca College, New York, and a M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was a visiting assistant professor of cinema at the State University of New York–Binghamton for 2008-2009, and was awarded a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts for the fall of 2009.