ANIMATION DOES TO HISTORY WHAT IT DOES TO NATURE. ANIMATION EVOKES HISTORY, PLAYS WITH IT, UNDERMINES IT, SUBVERTS IT, BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE IT, JUST AS IT DOES NOT HAVE NATURE. IT HAS SECOND NATURE. OR DIFFERENT NATURE. IT HAS DIFFERENT HISTORY. IT MODELS THE POSSIBILITY OF POSSIBILITY. 
-ESTHER LESLIE FROM “ANIMATING HISTORY”

100 Partially Obscured Views/100 Vistas Parcialmente Oscurecidas  (2015-2022)

I am not Fronteriza, but I come from border people.

Derivative of the place name “Aintab” also called “Gaziantep,” a border city across from Aleppo in Northern Syria, my surname, “Antebi,” is rooted in borderism. Most of my Sephardic Jewish ancestors on my father’s side identified closely with Arab culture, it’s no wonder that my father’s long time business partner in El Paso, Texas was Palestinian. This complexity of identity rooted in place is part of my family history, my name, and ultimately, my relationship to the Mexico/United States border. In recent years both borderlands have taken center stage in the dehumanizing treatment of political refugees. This film has a lot to do with bearing witness.

I was raised in the borderlands of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. In the years since I graduated from high school in 1993, I watched the two cities, that once shared the same name and continue to share community, become increasingly dissected by federal political, social, economic, and environmental policies designed to obstruct the movement of people, culture, and the river with two names.

In 2015 I received a generous film/video grant from the Jerome Foundation which initiated the production of this film. I knew that I wanted to trace the roots of colonial treaties, policies, and personal history to better understand this contemporary moment. In my work I have returned to the postcard as an object, an indexical document—that is almost always out of sync or time or tone with the moment at hand, as well, a type of open letter. When I began this project I purchased a vintage linen postcard on eBay of the Franklin Mountains with the caption “The most lettered mountain in the world.” This unencumbered image of the blocky letters assembled from painted rocks scattered across the mountain, the backdrop of my young adulthood, got me thinking about the graphic language of the mountains that comprised El Paso Del Norte/The Pass of the North. I began collecting more vintage postcards from the late 19th century through the early 1970s.

The accumulation of these images were a way to track perspectives and changing notions of when and how the border was constructed and what constitutes a monumental image meant to entice tourists to visit these places. The postcards also enabled me to respond, reflect, and interrogate the question of “what and for whom is a monument” and “how can monuments or monumentality also double as memorials?”

Gloria Anzaldúa, the renowned scholar, poet, auto historian, and the first academic to broach the topic of border theory, uses the Nahuatl word Nepantla to talk about the liminal space of binaries (geographic, cultural, gender, language, etc.) or in-betweenness. This space of transition or transgression or morphing offering the possibility of new-hybridizations and meaningful bridges similarly to the way in which an animation is formed by creating continuity between frames (also called in-betweens). I also acknowledge the construction of borders is the very conditions that make Anzaldúa’s person and work possible. And similarly the space between frames is the very place where the persistence of vision occurs and connects and activates the continuity of two separate places.

The idea of building a film about this region constructed almost entirely out of transitions was a strategy from the start. Two constraints informed my process in assembling this film. One was the idea of a film entirely composed of transitions—the basis for the first half of the film. And the second constraint was only to collaborate with people from the borderlands region.

In the process of collecting hundreds of iconic postcards from El Paso/Juárez, I discovered that my childhood friend, Claudia Muñoz Helming ‘s abuelito, Roberto López Díaz, authored the majority of tarjeta postales between 1950-1980 and as such became Chihuahua’s most prominent postcard maker in Juárez, Chihuahua, and Mexico, and possibly one of Mexico’s premiere documentarians.

El Paso and Juárez share history, share people, share each other’s gaze, their differences are constructed by imperialist treaties and policies, and obstructions that insist on their difference. 

Screening at Cornell Cinema (X)trACTION Program (2022)

Screening at Arsenal Berlin (X)trACTION Program (2022) *For this Berlin edition, (X)-trACTION wrote a manifesto as part of the collaboration between the Harun Farocki Institut and the Berliner Gazette’s project After Extractivism which is available here on their media partner’s website NON.

100 Partially Obscured Views / 100 Vistas Parcialmente Oscurecidasscreening at the Rio Grande Theater, Las Cruces, New Mexico in conjunction with Icons and Symbols of the Borderland, curated by Diana Molina (September 2022)

Included in a forthcoming exhibition as part of the 2022/2023 MexiCali Biennial The Land of Milk & Honey / La tierra que mana leche y miel

Official selection Lunenburg Doc Fest, Lunenburg Nova Scotia Canada

Official selection Oaxaca Film Festival, Oaxaca, Mexico 

Included in a forthcoming exhibition as part of the 2022/2023 MexiCali Biennial The Land of Milk & Honey / La tierra que mana leche y miel

Included in The Arizona Biennial 2023 at the Tucson Museum of Art Curator: Taína Caragol

Earlier iteration screenings…

Presenting 100 Partially Obscured Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border at Judson Memorial Church on May 8th part of StoryLab’s “Borderlands–Visual Art from the Resistance!” (2019)

Presenting 100 Partially Obscured Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border  at NMSU’s Feminist Border Arts Film Festival at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM (2019)

Animating the World, Gestures for a Plague Season or Goodbye Earth(works) (2020-ongoing)

Animating the World or Gestures for a Plague Season or Goodbye Earthworks is a series of over fifty small black and white films (each under one minute) that began in the Spring of 2020 just shortly after Covid-19 began to plague New York. I am an animator, interested in movement, loops and cycles as allegories for time and animism in relationship to the natural world. In 2021, I assembled a selection of these small films as a seasonal clock for “The Clock Tells the Hour” organized by Éireann Lorsung and presented by Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. The reel is divided into four-parts (each 1 minute and 7 seconds) demarcating time from a psycho-seasonal vantage point. https://vimeo.com/534993406/d513ca236d

Premiered at The Clock Tells the Hour via Maine Writers & Publisher’s Alliance

The City I love is Destroying Itself (2017 for Longreads)

Animated Interview with El Paso historian David Dorado Romo

Line Becomes…(2020)

Public Domain Interventions (2018-2021)

Public Domain Review Interventions 2018-2020

I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandfather, a Jewish immigrant and tailor, who worked in various high-end department stores in Manhattan. He would save the discarded scraps from the apparel he was working on and seamlessly piece together shirts and dresses for everyone in the family. I think I’ve always been drawn to textiles and their patterns for this reason. In 2018 I discovered a Book of French Textile Samples (1863) at the Public Domain Review.

The rough square samples were composed in unpredictable ways on each page. I was curious about how the patterns could create a kind of narrative through movement. From there I began ‘weaving’ short animations into the bookplates. Later I moved onto other Public Domain Review featured books that intersected with my other interests in alchemy, biology, geometry, pattern poetry, atmospheric phenomenon, sound visualizations, water and wave formations and others. I try to create one animation a day and post to Instagram. This is meant both as a way to continue experimenting in animation, but also as a way to learn more about these fascinating text. I’ve amassed so many at this point, I now create small reels organized by text to screen in micro-film programs. I will premiered the full reel of PDR animations at North Rock Center for Sculptural Arts Summer Invitational 2020.

“Studies on Twilight Phenomena, after Krakatoa” (1888) Chromolithographs from watercolour images by Eduard Pechuël-Loesche via The Public Domain Review. I added some charcoal from this year’s fires (2020)

Attributions by bookplate: https://www.instagram.com/nicoleantebi

Full reel: https://vimeo.com/436861361

2018-2019 Reel

Selections from my professional and creative test work spanning 2018-2019. Animated Essays, 2D Character Concept Animation, Clay Animation, Puppet Animation, Public Domain Review Interventions, Web Series, Educational Videos, and Book Trailer.

Industrial Light and Magic

Mary Hallock Greenewalt received 11 patents for her “color organ,” an early form of synthesizer. She would spend the rest of her life defending them. Words and animation at https://www.topic.com/industrial-light-and-magic

Patent No. 1,357,773: “Rheostat” (1920)
The rheostat was an essential mechanism of the Sarabet. It was an electrical device that varied the resistance of the electrical current so that Greenewalt could produce smooth fade-ups and fade-outs of light as she played. In this patent application, she describes the rheostat as “compact and substantial of a commercially practicable design; relatively simple as regards the aggregate number and arrangement of its parts, and at the same time includes a series of contact blocks and moveable contact member adapted for operation by human, mechanical or automatic power.”
The rheostat would become a standard tool for electronic instruments, and when General Electric infringed on Greenewalt’s patent in 1932, she sued. At first, a judge denied hearing the case, determining that the rheostat was too complex to have been invented by a woman. This decision was overturned on appeal by Judge Hugh Morris, who described Greenewalt as “a true artist” in his decision, and she eventually won the case.

Patent No. 1,385,944: “Notation for Indicating Light Effects” (1921)
“The object of my present invention is to provide a score comprising names, numerals, marks, symbols, hieroglyphs, or the like, constituting a chart or record sheet for denoting or interpreting a lighting sequence or succession to accompany music,” wrote Greenewalt in this patent. It involved Greenewalt’s translation of Beethoven’s 1801 “Moonlight” Sonata into a notation readable by a Sarabet player. Full video available here with interpreted tonalities by Melissa Grey https://www.topic.com/industrial-light-and-magic

I Offer You with French Textile Samples (1863)

In 2017 I began integrating a beautiful collection of French Textile Samples (1863) found over at The Public Domain Review into my animations.

The looped animations were then absorbed into a oulipian collaboration with l’Ao for a Multilingual Poetry Reading curated by Tansy Xiao. The project premiered at the Brooklyn Art Library 28 Frost St Brooklyn, New York on June 29th, 2018. Documentation of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-JMeKEcrog&t=29s

“The language with which I make my poems has nothing to do with one spoken here, or anywhere.” — Paul Celan

Multilingual Poetry Reading is a series of poetry reading and performance events that encourage varying interpretations of the same poems in different languages and disciplines. Special thanks to our host Brooklyn Art Library, a crowd-sourced library that features 40,609 artists’ books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries. Event Organizer: Raincoat Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting artists with fluid identities and multiple cultural backgrounds. Poems include Jorge Luis Borges, Marina Tsvetaeva, Paul Celan, Vasko Popa, Charles Pierre Baudelaire.

Just Browsing//Web Series

I’ve been working with writer, Joanne McNeil on a series of five video essays that talk about internet culture.

Just Browsing is a five part series investigating what it means to be an internet user. Each episode, presented by writer Joanne McNeil, begins with a topic of inquiry and leads the audience through the narrator’s own investigation of overlapping subjects using books and a web browser. The episodes toggle between new and old forms of media along with animation and live action sequences filmed at New York’s long-standing speakeasy bookstore, Brazenhead Books.

The full series is now streaming at Labocine for a limited time.

The series premiered October 19th, 2017 at Fridman Gallery, NY, thanks to EYEBEAM Brooklyn https://thomafoundation.org/2015-arts-writing-award-grantee-joanne-mcneil-debuts-just-browsing/

Antebi_JB

Procrustean Bed

Video documentation by Robert Kirkbride

Miolina & Melissa Grey performance documentation of Procrustean Bed at the National Opera Center-Scorca Hall on March 8, 2017 in observance of International Women’s Day.

Procrustean Bed was created by composer Melissa Grey and artist-animator Nicole Antebi for Lynn Bechtold & Composers Concordance. Performed by Lynn Bechtold [violin] & Melissa Grey [live processing, Merlin]; at San Diego Central Library Auditorium, CA, 2016.04.08 [world premiere]

Composers Concordance at The New West Electronic Arts & Music Festival | Music & Myth

Antebi_ProcrusteanBed.GIF

Procrustean Bed, a performance for violin, Merlin, and live processing, with animation by the artist Nicole Antebi, is a collaborative work based on the myth of Procrustes, the subduer, the stretcher, the rogue metalworker who either cut or stretched his guests’ legs to fit the specific size of an iron bed. The phrase is used in several disciplines to convey an arbitrary standard to which exact conformity is forced. Merlin, performed by Melissa Grey, is a handheld computer game from the late 1970s that was one of the earliest digital sequencers. In Music Machine mode, there is a limit of 48 pitches. This constraint is subdued or stretched to fit our procrustean bed.

Dead Horse Bay: The Glass Graveyard of Brooklyn

“The Beach That Speaks” An Excerpt from Brian Thill’s Waste; Animated by Nicole Antebi

Stills

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Produced for “Dead Horse Bay: The Glass Graveyard of Brooklyn” curated by Allison C. Meier

February 1st – April 1st, 2017

Curated by Allison C. Meier

Opening reception: Wednesday, February 1st from 6-9pm.

On view: February 1- April 1, 2017

Exhbiting artists include: Nicole Antebi, Gerard Barbot, Alex Branch, Yael Eban, David Horvitz, Nathan Kensinger, Jackie Mock, Rose Nestler, Rachel Owens, Amanda Patenaude, Anna Riley, Mark Splatter, and Brett Swenson

It is easy to forget Dead Horse Bay exists. Cradled by a slender curve of shore on the southern edge of Brooklyn, between Marine Park and Jamaica Bay, it feels sequestered from the rest of New York City. Except every aspect of Dead Horse Bay is embedded with the city’s history, from its topography shaped by Robert Moses, to its name referencing the horse rendering plants that were among many unsavory businesses that disrupted its ecology in the 19th century. And then there’s the trash strewn on its beach, where everything not decomposed since the landfill beneath was closed in the 1930s is slowly revealed by the waves.

When walking along the shore of Dead Horse Bay, you soon hear the clinking sound of glass bottles as the Atlantic Ocean laps against the sand. On the beach, there is glass of every variety, from amber bleach jugs to delicate and clear perfume bottles, to green soda bottles, and blue medical bottles. Nowhere else in the city, perhaps, is the connection of glass to our daily lives so evident, as in this detritus of lives lived decades ago.

Dead Horse Bay is essential to explore now, as it is a site of disparate tensions. There are the plants and animals attempting to live alongside the visible pollution, and the consideration of greater planetary concerns with climate change threatening rising currents, which could submerge this strange place. And there’s the conflict between artists who use this as a resource and site of inspiration, and those who see it as protected as any federally-controlled park, even if it’s toxic litter. Finally, it’s the idea that in a city so dense, so developed, that there are these overlooked locations that remain, that are unpleasant and ignored, yet can tell us so much about our history and our individual impact on the world. Now our trash is mostly whisked away from the city, seemingly vanishing; here is evidence that it does not go away.

As an exhibition theme, Dead Horse Bay offers a chance to examine reuse of glass, the history of glassware in consumer goods, and how the sonic and tactile experience with glass at the place, in all its luminous colors, can be an unexpected muse.

About the curator: Allison C. Meier is a Brooklyn-based writer focusing on the arts and overlooked history. Currently, she is staff writer at Hyperallergic, and moonlights as a cemetery tour guide at New York burial grounds. She’s also worked as the senior editor at Atlas Obscura and has published stories for the New York Times, Art DeskARTNewsNarrative.lyBrooklyn Based, the Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma Today MagazineBust, and others.

Image credit: Triple Canopy and Phoebe d’Heurle

Waste by Brian Thill 2015 Bloomsbury Object Lessons 

sator, arepo, tenet, opera, rotas or Magic Square

The Sator or Magic Square: sator, arepo, tenet, opera, rotas, is a palindrome that can be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, right-to-left and in a boustrophedonic, continuous back and forth. The earliest example of the ancient phrase was found in the ruins of Pompeii and in the excavations under the church of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome. It is often referred to as a Magic Square for its historic use as a device invoked in magical incantation.

The Magic Square, a recent visual music collaboration between Melissa Grey (sound), Nicole Antebi (animation) and featuring music by electronic music pioneer, Vince Clarke, premiered at The Morbid Anatomy Museum on May 19, 2016 along with an illustrated lecture by Colin Dickey on the history of magic squares and the mystical powers of palindromes.