Image Union, Episode 1609: A Tribute To Juan Downey

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A collection of video art pieces by Juan Downey, who had recently passed away.

0:00 Image Union opening.

0:50 Voice over explains that Downey’s tapes have often been shown on Image Union and gives bio.

1:42 Ciip from The Laughing Alligator. Tape about the Yanomami people of the Amazon Rainforest, shot in 1976 and ’77. Downey’s step-daughter gives background on the tribe, and her family’s trip. Downey describes his desire to leave the United States and dwell with the tribe.

4:11 Footage of the Yanomami, doing some sort of a dance.

4:56 Downey relates how he was saved by his video camera when he found himself in a stand-off with armed Yanomami Indians, who considered the camera a weapon on par with their own and backed off.

7:38 Downey talks about himself as traveler as we watch the Yanomami remove bark from trees. We also see a Yanomami man singing and dancing.

9:31 Downey’s wife describes two hallucinogenic drugs made by the Yanomami from bark and seeds. These drugs are an important part of Yanomami culture. The Yanomami take the drugs and begin to writhe around.

12:39 Downey relates the Yanomami myth of the origin of fire. Before the tribe knew about fire, they only ate raw fruits and nuts. The alligator owned the fire and kept it in his mouth. Some children found charred wood and figured out the alligator’s secret. They made the alligator laugh by dumping excrement on his wife’s face. He opened his mouth and they were able to catch the fire. Now they have fire, but the alligator cursed them to no longer be immortal and now they burn their dead. The tribe eats the remains after death.

15:01 Downey explains that his tape of a deaf mute Yanomami woman singing is a favorite of the tribe, who also helped shoot the tape. Credits.

16:31 Joe Cummings introduces tape about Bach.

16:51 Clip from “Counterpoint.” Man plays harpsichord. A man explains that we do not listen to all parts of counterpoint with equal attention. He says that the ear and mind remain active during this process.

19:36 We begin to see shots of Prince Leopold’s castle mixed with continued shots of the man playing the harpsichord.

21:29 Cummings introduces unfinished tape called “The Chicago Boys” about the relationship between Chile and the economic policies of University of Chicago professor Milton Friedman. Friedman essentially designed the economy of the country after 1973.

22:03 Spinning globe. Downey shows us Chile and talks about the country. He describes the country’s economy as an experiment for Chicago economists.

23:01 Man says that after 1973 all the universities in Chile were under control by the military. Another man repeats this information. They describe the repressive nature of the government, which is very anti-intellectual.

24:53 Footage of protest with man explaining that Chileans can leave, but cannot necessarily come back. He also talks about people who have been disappeared.

26:06 Cummings bids farewell to Downey.

26:28 End credits for Image Union.

27:26 End of tape.



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