WARD OF THE FERAL HORSES (excerpt), 2013-2015 HD video (single channel + three channel installation) RT 19:58


WARD OF THE FERAL HORSES (2013-2015) is an experimental short film exploring the sensation of a person trapped in his body. The backdrop for the film is technology-related anxiety, which disjoints our physicality from our mental space. As the action in the film breaks down, we experience a total collapse of the protagonist’s internal and external worlds.

In War And In Dancing It Is Forward And Back
R.'s mind is trapped in a modern-day technological apparatus. He is pressured to come up with original sayings in his mental workshop, named Semiotic Creations. He wants to be liked. He’s afraid to miss out, to do worse than his associates, to appear negative, to not achieve enough, to miss a sub-context, to have too few friends, and to seem needy for friends; he is terrified that one day he will find out that his computer has been broadcasting all his fears. He gradually grows more and more anxious, and his anxiety manifests itself in his inability to communicate.

The film addresses cognitive capitalism—employing semiotics to produce personal social capital for R.. As tension rises and pressure increases to come up with intriguing sayings, R.'s internal voice, which also represents a paternal figure, nixes vowels from his anachronistic metal letterpress and becomes unintelligible. His voice begins to develop THE REGIME OF CONSONANTS—an invented broken speech impediment. The confrontation between them pushes R.'s mind to run astray until it cracks to reveal a schizophrenic carnivalesque dance troupe, an embodiment of his inner psyche, emerging from his room’s furnishings.

R.’s environment is saturated with color and print patterns, linking our time with the early 20th century and its response to industrialization. The use of pattern was considered decorative and functional, as in craft, and therefore a threat to the status quo of fine art as explained by Catherine Bock-Weiss’ research paper: Henri Matisse: Modernism Against the Grain (2009). My interest in pattern lies in its enigmatic power to confuse and overwhelm, together with the possibility of breaking free. Pattern also points to the moment in history, which brought together Matisse and Gertrude Stein. The action in the film is propelled by quotes from Gertrude Stein, such as: “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” The quotes about fathering, money and the flow of information are strangely pertinent to our time.

Carrying a multiplicity of individuals, R. is a person experiencing a mental breakdown, and at the same time, a symbol for the society dominating today’s tumultuous real and virtual world.




Written and Directed by: Orit Ben-Shitrit
Director of Photography: Chapin Hall
Sound Design: Timothy Korn 
Editor: Jeremy C. Hansen
Preliminary Editor: Anne-Laure D’hooghe
Choreographer: Kate Corby
Actors: L: Doug Barron, R.: Maxwell Cosmo Cramer
Dancers/Creators: Brittany Engel-Adams, Joanna Kotze, Cara Angela Liguori, Or Reitman, Pascale Seigneurie
Camera 1: Chapin Hall
Camera 2: Eric Brucker
Camera 3: Ryan Thomas Jenkins
Color Correction: Tristan Kneschke
Art Director: Orit Ben-Shitrit
Assistant director: James Francis Cerretani
Music composition: Skip La Plante
Rerecording Mixer: Timothy Korn
Foley artist: Jesse Flower-Ambroch, Steve Robbins, Orit Ben-Shitrit, Timothy Korn
Dialogue Editor: Steve Robbins
Location Sound/Boom: Steve McLaughlin
Boom Operator: Dave De La Rosa
Instruments by: Skip La Plante
Vocals: Cara Angela Liguori, Or Reitman, Pascale Seigneurie, Timothy Korn, Orit Ben-Shitrit, Max Cosmo Cramer, Doug Barron 
Hair and Makeup: Manami Ishikawa
Hair and Makeup Assistant: Amy Yarsevich
Costume Design: Diego Montoya
Seamstress: Natalie Minevich
Set Design: Orit Ben-Shitrit
Set Assistants: James Francis Cerretani, Diego Montoya
Technical Director: Geoff Abbas
Assistant Technical Director: Eric Lin
Master Carpenter / Rigger: William E. Fritz
Carpenters: Mike Wells + Carl Lewandowski
Master Electrician / Lighting Supervisor: Daniel Anthony Swalec
Catering: Sweet Sue’s
Script: Orit Ben-Shitrit with quotes by Gertrude Stein
Stills Photography: Mick Bello, India Bello, Orit Ben-Shitrit
Log and Capture: Mick Bello
Clapper/Production Assistant: Zhenelle Maree Falk
Project Manager: Ian A. Hamelin
Artist Services: Kathrin Anne Hammon

Special thanks: The EMPAC team and Ash Bulayev, Gregory Minevich, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Kate Corby, Chapin Hall, Timothy Korn and Dungeon Beach, Skip La Plante, Dottie Dack, Karen Levitt, India Bello, Sally Haftel-Nave, Cristina Mirage Dodd,
Will Znidaric, the Ostrovsky Family Fund, Vivian Ostrovsky, Tal Yahas.

Produced by Orit Ben-Shitrit and EMPAC

Commissioned by Experimental Media and Performing Art Center (EMPAC), NY