Bryan Zanisnik at Priska Juschka

Bryan Zanisnik Remembrance of Things Past 2007 video [still from instalaltion]

Bryan Zanisnik Family Reunion 2007 video [still from installation]

Bryan Zanisnik's show at Priska Juschka, "80 Year War", may be totally charming but it's also very compelling for reasons I haven't quite been able to explain to myself. I say this even after having experienced the work twice: Barry and I were first taken with it when we saw an earlier form of it in Zanisnik's Hunter College studio.

The gallery's press release explains the project, which is displayed in the space as two DVD videos and several digital C-prints:

In this exhibition, Zanisnik will present two videos from his series 80 Year War—a video project that he initiated with his grandmother between the ages of 13 and 15. In this work, he filmed his grandmother and parents re-enacting several plots of war, immigration, and gangster predicaments. Rather than perceiving the original footage as raw material, Zanisnik considered it an archive from which he pulled various portions without manipulating them. Thus, culled from eight hours of overall footage, these short videos are the result of an extensive and insightful editing process.
No, it's probably not just about seeing this entire delightful family indulging the ripe fantasies of an imaginative son and grandson, and I'm pretty sure it's not the suggestion of environmental consciousness, its recycled-materials aspect. I'm thinking more of the fact that we're looking at footage assembled from video the adult artist had shot when he was in his early teens: How could art be a more fundamental and direct expression of its creator's Bildung? I also can't forget the oddly-sweet, safe moving pictures and dialog of Zanisnik's games, and comparing their innocence with the ugly, dangerous reality of the world which was unfolding as the child became an adult.

What does the decision to mount this kind of work say about a young artist's self-confidence? I'm happy to say that it was more than warranted, and I can't wait to see what's next.