While riding freight trains and compiling oral histories from fellow riders and railroad workers he met along the way, Daniel documented a phenomenon of monikers and mark-making once practiced extensively throughout the United States by people living and working on and around trains. Fascinated by a reoccurring signature—“Bozo Texino” accompanied by a cowboy with an infinity-sign hat and a cigarette—Daniel utilized storytelling, mythmaking, and folklore to express themes of wanderlust, the formation of identity and community, and the success and failure of commodified labor.
Our sense of self is rooted in belonging. Belonging encompasses where we come from, where we currently are, and where we are going. Given the inherently narrative structure of belonging, it can best be considered through a time-based medium, such as film. This film series examines belonging broadly, as well as what happens when our sense of belonging is uprooted. Simultaneously, each film ties into an ongoing exhibition at the Arts Center. A single object acts as the intermediary between these films and the exhibition; they are our link between here and there.
Who Is Bozo Texino explores the origin story of a graffiti character found on freight train boxcars across the US. The film’s director, Bill Daniel, ties the search for Bozo Texino’s origins to his own history as a rail rider. Inscriptions of an Immense Theater examines belonging as a story told through objects, with a critical eye to how narratives offered by museums can gloss over, obscure, and even destroy certain histories. EDM House is built upon dichotomies. As a film of animated Christmas lights, it subverts expectations in syncing the twinkling dance to an electronic dance music track written by the artist, Kevin Schmidt. Schmidt shoots the house’s performance from various camera angles to compile the film, leading to the question of whether the house exists for the film alone, or if it exists as a destination experience which we can presumably reach.
This exhibition is supported by the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education, Kohler Foundation, Inc., the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.