The Wexner Center for the Arts’ current video exhibition is a stark reminder that when it comes to our changing climate, there’s no going back.
Stanya Kahn, a Wexner Center Film/Video Studio resident, worked closely with the Wexner Center for the Arts to create “No Go Backs,” a 33-minute film that premiered Jan. 22 in the Wexner Center’s gallery and will continue showing through April.
The wordless fictional film features Kahn’s teenage son Lenny Dodge-Kahn and his childhood friend Elijah Parks traveling around California, living off the land in search of a more sustainable life. In the director’s forward, Kahn said she dedicated her film to “the earth and her protectors.”
“It relates to what’s going on now and the anxiety we all have, particularly for kids who are coming of age and coming into consciousness, who are being told the world is going to be gone and things are dying everywhere,” Lucy Zimmerman, associate curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center, said.
The gallery guide contains Kahn’s love letters for younger generations of children, detailing her pain and sorrow that climate change is happening. The letters also say she believes in younger generations’ resilience and ability to find a solution, Zimmerman said.
In the director’s forward, Kahn explained her decision to create a film without dialogue.
“I wanted to make a kinetic state from sound and images without dialogue to inhabit — psychological and intuitive, dreamlike, and where threads of meaning could lace and unlace interdependently,” she wrote.
Kahn and her son not only helped raise awareness for climate change through the film, but activism, as they attended marches to speak out against global climate change, Zimmerman said.
The Wexner Center has a post-production studio, as well as some production material that give resident artists free access to technical and creative support as they complete their projects, Jennifer Lange, curator of the film and video studio program at the Wexner Center, said.
“We’re not just an institution that presents work. We’re an institution that is actively involved in the creation of work,” Lange said. “What makes the Wex different is we have facilities, equipment and people who know how to do things, all at the disposal of the artist who’s trying to explore a new direction and experiment in a new form.”
Zimmerman said the movie was shot with a Super 16 mm film camera — a kind of film that provides a larger image in a wide-screen ratio — provided by the Wexner Center, making this Kahn’s first time working with this medium, as she normally films digitally.
“She worked at first with a director of photography, but she’s someone who really wanted to learn and be hands-on, so very quickly she took the camera and was shooting all of it herself,” Zimmerman said.
“No Go Backs” is screening at the Wexner Center for the Arts until April 26. Admission is free for students with a BuckID, those under the age of 18 and active military veterans, as well as on Thursdays after 4 p.m. Tickets cost $9 for the general public and $7 for seniors and Ohio State faculty.
The Wexner Center for the Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.