“Exercises in Resistance” Carl Elsaesser

Exercises in Resistance

Carl Elsaesser


To be played in the background of whatever you are doing. Keep it small, and/or keep it behind several tabs. Ignore it while watching something else in bed. Return to it. Let it do its thing. Don’t pay it much attention. Don’t focus on it. Let it just go.


I started a series of video performances and rituals which paired down filmmaking to just a simple gesture repeated in front of the camera for an hour. Taking banal and everyday gestures performed in either my apartment or office space, I’ll choose a specific hour of the day to film with the intent to create a diurnal body of resistance that can be streamed online and refreshed with new performances as they are made. The works are in part a response to current political climate that encourages one to stay hidden and disabled. They are a ritualistic way to reorient these everyday spaces as something stirring and charged with potential. These acts of resistance are small and absurd. Anyone can repeat them with a minimal amount of effort and each exercise comes with a set of instructions. They are not about endurance, but are vulnerable, humble and open. For instance, in one exercise, I walk up and down the stairs in my school which have lights set to a motion sensor. I pace myself so that I am walking in time with the lights so that my body is singularly lit. I’m intimately in time with the institution’s time. Maybe it will speak to me? – CE


Falling Asleep 12-1 AM

Find the point at which you can’t keep your eyes open any more. Turn a camera on and point it towards your face, so close to your face! Treat it like a lover or a witness or a family member or a creature or a object. Notice how being watched effects your sleep.

Dancing 1-2 AM

Dress up like Tom Cruise from Risky Business and put on a very poppy album. Dance as hard as you can to the music. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.

Reflection 2-3 AM

Sit in front on a window that overlooks a road. Turn on a light and notice your reflection feeling the window and the cars lights passing through your body, slicing your body in half. Turn off the light; erase your image. Repeat in 10 minute cycles.

Watching Spirited Away 3-4 AM

If you can’t fall asleep, find a terrible quality version of a favorite childhood movie and put it on. Let the light of the film fill the room and cover your body.

Smudged Head 4-5 AM

Walk to your studio at 4am, film yourself in the green room and animate your head getting smudged out while stereotypical audience laughter is played. Make sure you film and edit all before the sun rises!

Head Sink Wash 5-6 AM

Find a morning when you can’t stop thinking. No matter how hard you try the thoughts keep pouring out. Put your head under the sink and let the water wash your thoughts away, at least for an hour.

Apartment Mapping 6-7 AM

Wait for the temperature to reach 90 degrees or higher. Trace the outline of your apartment with careful footsteps.

Meditation 7-8 AM

Meditate for an hour. Focus on your belly.

Head in the Freezer 8-9 AM

Stick your head in the freezer, see how much you can fit in. Listen to the sounds your freezer and thawing food makes. Notice the smells of freezer burn and thawed soup.

Waiting for a Storm that Never Comes 9-10 AM

Listen to the weather report every morning until you hear warnings of a impending thunderstorm. Go out on your roof in a bathrobe and prostrate yourself to the coming storm. Keep waiting as it doesn’t show up.

Bathtub body weight 10-11 AM

Lie naked in your bathtub and have someone (a dear friend preferably) turn on the warm water. Feel your body’s weight fall away as you start to become buoyant. Notice when you forget about your body. Have the same person (preferably the same dear friend) turn off the water and drain the water. Notice your body’s weight return. It never left! Repeat and repeat.

Interior and Exterior Exposure Change 11-12 PM

Stand naked in front of the camera. Have someone (preferably a dear friend) change the exposure from the interior to exterior. Notice in your body the difference or lack of difference between a camera seeing your naked body and a camera hiding your naked body.

Thawing Window with Breath 12-1 PM

Use your breath to thaw an iced in window. Even as you start lose consciousness from all the oxygen, continue to thaw that window.

Shadow on Rotating Wall 1-2 PM

Stand in front of a rotating wall. Cast your shadow on the wall. Watch your shadow warp.

Using Hand to Cover Face 2-3 PM

Be inspired from watching videos of famous people avoiding the camera by covering their face with their hand. Sit on your bed directly in front of the camera. The camera is the paparazzi! It’s trying to see your face. Cover your face with your hand and keep it covered. Never let the camera in. It is a threat.

Trump Rally 3-4 PM

In the weeks leading up to an election put on a rally for someone you oppose. I chose Trumps rally for Ted Cruz on October 22nd. Lie on top of the speakers playing the audio from the rally. Use your body as a sponge to soak up the sound or use your body as a filter to transform the sound. Feel the vibrations from the sound. Listen with the sounds touch. Do not stop listening.

Shadow on Back Porch 4-5 PM

Stand outside and let your shadow grow to fill the frame, or at least part of the frame.

Everything I’d Rather Be Doing 5-6 PM

Find a time when you’d rather be doing literally anything other than sitting for an hour, sit and discuss everything you’d rather be doing.

Mental Prowess 6-7 PM

Use your mental prowess to tip over a glass of white wine on your back porch. Never stop! Try a couple position to better focus your psychic energy.

Bathroom Air Dryer 7-8 PM

Find a public bathroom with an older style air dryer (it’s hard to find!). Take off your shirt and sit under the air dryer. Direct it at your head and turn on the air. Once the air turns off, turn it back on. Repeat this.

Moon Reflection 8-9 PM

Be inspired by the brilliant Yoko Ono. Perform one of her exercises from Grapefruit. I chose the one where you feel a bucket full of water and go out on a full moon and grab the reflection of the moon in the bucket. Keep grabbing the moon’s reflection until it’s gone!

Confronting the LED Light Outside My Apartment 9-10 PM

Mourn the slow death of sodium vapor lighting by confronting the replacement, a LED light outside your apartment. Continue to get interrupted by passersby and police.

Timing movement with automatic lights 10-11 PM

Walk up and down the stairs of your chosen institution at night. I chose University of Iowa. Time your pace with the automatic lights so that you and only you are lit up. Perhaps you are communicating with them.

Apartment mapping part 2 11-12 AM

Wait until it’s over 90 degrees at night in your apartment. Take the end of candle, light it and trace the outline of your apartment without letting the candle go out.


Online at ACRETV.org
November 8 – December 31, 2018

JumbleTron Program 2:
Rotating schedule 6 pm-6 am CST
Exercises in Resistance Airs:

Nov 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 30
Dec 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28

Full 24-hour Exercises in Resistance series Airs:


CUBED: Luminous
Pensacola Museum of Art
University of West Florida Museum Plaza
Pensacola, Florida
November 8-11, 2018

JumbleTron Program 2:
Thursday, November 8, 2018
5:30 pm – 12:00 am CST

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