Video Art by Willie Varela


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Chicano Cinema and Media Art Series, Volume 9
October 2013
415 minutes

Willie Varela's videos emphasize the act of looking over storytelling, placing an emphasis on the relationship of the camera to his body, home environment, or nature. Varela stresses rhythm and repetition over linear development and direct associations, producing a cinema that functions as a crossroads—much as his native El Paso does—where personal, domestic, local, and national discourses meet.
Disc 1
A Neon Crescent, 1976, Super 8, silent, 3:21
Becky’s Eye, 1977, Super 8, silent, 3:31
Bent Light, 1976, Super 8, silent, 3:17
The Last Look, 1981, Super 8, silent, 1:53
Ambien Series VII Duo, 2002, video, sound, 9:27
These short videos, largely inspired by Stan Brakhage's experiments in sculpting light, focus on a single element to render beauty.
Visual Politics
Fearless Leader, 1985, Super 8, sound, 3:38
In Progress, 1985, video, sound, 12:30
His Hidden Presence, 1998, video, sound, 10:10
This Burning World, 2002, video, sound, 31:57
Short Video Pieces 2004, 2004, video, sound, 46:42
Recognizing that all human relations are political, in these works Varela explores the ways that artists function in a material world.

Ambient Spaces
Recuerdos de flores muertas, 1982, Super 8, sound, 6:58
Ghost Town, 1974, Super 8, silent, 2:43
I Raise My Arm, I Am Responsible, 2004, video, sound, 16:37
Ambien Series VIII Houston, 2002, video, sound, 15:15
These videos, inspired by the sound art of Brian Eno, are intended put viewers in a unique state of awareness of their surroundings.
Disc 2
Moondance, 1976, Super 8, silent, 9:41
James Broughton, 1985, Super 8, sound, 6:07
Stan & Jane Brakhage, 1981, Super 8, silent, 3:14
March 1979, 1979, Super 8, silent, 3:27
The Birthday Party, 2004, video, sound, 10:21
The Extraordinary Day, 2003, video, sound, 16:21
White Sands, 2004, video, sound, 12:00
Representative of Varela’s early practice, these works elevate the aesthetic value of otherwise dismissed environments.
Making Is Choosing: A Fragmented Life: A Broken Line: A Series of Observations, 1989, Super 8, sound, 1:43:15
This work chronicles Varela’s life from 1985 to 1989, a period of doubt, anger, and intense self-examination.

Willie Varela’s films have been screened at venues around the country, including the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Cinematheque, and the Guggenheim Museum. He was the subject of a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and his video pieces were included in the 1993 and 1995 Whitney Biennials. Varela lives and works in El Paso, Texas.

Michael Stone (producer) is a graduate of Columbia University film school. His short films have been seen on Bravo and IFC. He currently supervises projects, including the Chicano Cinema and Media Art series, for the Chicano Studies Research Center.