Steve Reinke

October 1997

The author:

Steve Reinke, born in 1963, lives in Toronto, Canada. He has recently had monographic shows of his works at the ICA of London, MOMA of New York, the University of San Diego and the Artist´s Television Access of San Francisco. Reinke has curated, among others, the following video series: Fresh Acconci, The George Kuchar Experience and Big Dick Time.

The Hundred Videos:

"People ask me: ‘Steve, how do yo manage to make so many films? How can you be so prolific?’ And I tell them: Oh! They´re not films, they´re videos. It´s a job that doesn´t require much effort…” Steve Reinke, Visuals Elf.

Ten years ago, Steve Reinke, a young Canadian videographer, set out to make The Hundred Videos, an open project that would allow him to deal with diverse themes and resources. The result is an exciting work marked by deviance, irony and a profound, but clear analysis. Leading to laughter or pain, it deals with a series of concepts like reality, pleasure, sex, personality, illness or truth, which are fully and drastically questioned, without worrying about supposed cultural and social obstacles.

The Hundred Videos, about five hours long, are in their majority pieces of no more than five minutes, at times not even a minute long. Separated only by 10 seconds of blackness and silence, they make up, in spite of their disparity, a sort of continuum, little by little forming a great assembly. Reinke surprises, entertains and wounds through the level of freedom with which he uses the language of video, delving into the most apparently fragile zones of intimacy and culture. What´s more, he makes transgression, as harsh as it may be, become irrelevant in itself, and leaves us astonished at the new things we see appear, the things we have forgotten, or simple emptiness. So it is the “normal” which requires explanations and justifications, like in Understanding Heterosexuality, a sincere and didactic intent to understand the difficult world of heterosexuality. Steve Reinke is also a writer, which in his videos doesn´t come across as literally or translated, but through his agility when using videographic language of directly approaching his subjects, above any notion of style or pretense of formal coherence, something which makes one think of Burroughs or Bataille, as much as of George Kuchar and Vito Acconci.

Over the course of these one hundred videos we encounter a kind of documentary which makes fun of the “excuse of the real”, a video diary which explodes and erases the subject in its search for an inventory of feelings, mental states and thoughts firmly tied to paradox, unsustainable and unavoidable at the same time, as when in Excuse of the Real he says:

“Like many others I wanted to deal with the subject of AIDS […] it should have been with a white, anglo-saxon man. For budget reasons, I would have preferred someone who would die within six or eight of the start of shooting […] I also needed some images in Super 8, […] although they didn´t have to be of him, […] those family scenes are practically interchangeables.”

Irony and harsh reality at the same time. Fatigue when facing the media stereotypes of AIDA, and the comfortable documentary fictions on the subject. His tender yet harsh voice leads the viewer through visual landscapes, at times minimal or aesthetically desolate, through fragments of old medical documentaries, porno films, texts, cartoons, and feature films; and he does it the way a medical specialist would, a dermatologist, for example, aware of the abyss of surfaces. Always in search of lucidity. A will toward sincerity which doesn´t stop at the “authentic”, the “real”, the “true”, but has the courage to reach the lie, the banality, the horror of meaning hidden behind the human condition. And the most interesting thing is that this passage, sustained by the formal lightness we have mentioned, is done without a shadow (or with a minimum) of negativity and autoflagellation. The “sublime” doesn´t come from affectation or presumption, but from what Georges Bataille called “lower parts”, popular culture, sex.

In a good number of tapes, Reinke uses gay iconography and pornography with a rare precision, simultaneously showing utopic representations, either spontaneous or artificial.

“In the Occidental world we have the idea that the ultimate truth of a person is a sexual truth, but at the same time we have a taboo that stops us from talking about sexuality or showing it explicitly. So, in a certain way what I do is a parody which lets me explain that this material says nothing about me.”

The Hundred Videos Project, selection:

Excuse of the Real (4'31") 
Family Tree (3'30") 
Watermelon Box (46") 
Speculative Anthropology (2'30") 
Why I Stopped Going to Foreign Films (5'19") 
Barely Human (3'25"), 
Michael & Lacan (10'56") 
Walking the Dog (2'28"), 
After Baudelaire (2'22") 
Language of Flowers (1'36"), 
Introduction of the Logo (1'21") 
Squeezing Sorrow from an Ashtray (5'45") 
In the Real of Perpetual Embarrassment (3'33") 
Visuals Elf (1'03"), 
Pus Girl (1'25") 
Wish (2'43"), 
Disturbed Sleep (6'44") 
Testimonials (6'47") 
Little Faggot (2'34") 
Lonely Boy (8'20") 
I Love You, Too (52") 
Instructions for Recovering Forgotten Childhood Memories (2'14") 
Request (6'55") Understanding Heterosexuality (1'28") 
My Personal Virus (1'36") 
Artifact (1'49") 
Monologue (with Provocation) (2'51") 
Child (43"), Windy Morning in April (48") 
Love Letter to Doug (2'09") 
Ghost Production (3'44") 
Minnesota Inventory (10'37") 
Re-enactment of a Performance (1'02") 
Box (2'35") 
The End of My Death (2'15") 
Attempt to sing (50") 
Harvey K. (2'06") 
Corey (2'51") 
Dumbo Climax (2'28") 
The Boxers (1'10") 
Talk Show (1'18") 
I have already (15") 
New York Loves Me (59") 
Children's Vídeo Collective (3'20") 
Three Dreams (3'15") 
Video for Intellectuals (2'14") 
Notes of the Uncanny (3'20") 
Manifestations/Jouissance (2'38") 
Falling (2'26").


  • The Hundred Videos