A short film by Giorgio Angelini

The experiential film on No. 9 — the final performance in the series:  MY DEATH IS PENDING… BECAUSE. Started in 1986, the body of work is by the internationally acclaimed, conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll. It emerges from a Rube Goldberg / stream-of-consciousness methodology. A conceptual process where something simple is extracted from a set of complex ideas that continue until the process comes to a complete stop.

The film takes on a dual experience. There is both Carroll’s artistic intention for the piece itself, and the act of filming it. It is both a literal documentation of a performance where a game is being played within another game. The game in this instance is the demolition derby and only a self-selecting group of the attending audience were aware of the other game. The film — MY DEATH IS PENDING… BECAUSE. mirrors that process as it also operates as a larger story about the confrontation of death.

Directed by Carroll’s close friend, Giorgio Angelini, the act of viewing the performance  becomes a revisiting of the emotional torture of seeing a friend die and then brought back to life—not once, but
nine times.

For an artist who states emphatically that she is against metaphor, the long-planned performance at Irwindale Speedway’s “Night of Destruction” can’t help but transform the act into a proxy, a re-performance of the death events—six months prior. One of the lead cardiologists from the team described the events as follows, “It was not a near-death performance, it was actual death.”

No. 9 was envisaged in 2006, and the decision to participate in the “Night of Destruction” in 2017 was due in part because Irwindale Speedway was slated for demolition in 2018 — to become an outlet mall. The 1985 Buick Riviera that was driven in the derby also had a limited lifespan. It was utilized in the work LATE , when Carroll intentionally crashed the 1985 Motor Trend Car of the Year into the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Munich on Maximillianstrasse in 2005.

The difference about this time and what we experience in the film is that Carroll is “very conscious” and an audience of over 15,000 people are watching. Where it operated as a conceptual pursuit by the artist about systems and process, for the filmmaker Angelini, it was revisiting the overwhelming helplessness of watching a friend wither away and die before your eyes …. Only to miraculously come back to life.

Playing with this sense of helplessness—the discomfort of being suddenly confronted with the news of a traumatic event, the denial of actionable information, and ensuing bombardment of erratic emotional shifts—the film itself attempts to recreate this anomolous sensation for the audience, through the demolition derby itself. The “Night of Destruction” is a peculiar and invigorating collective experience. One of the few human experiences that reduces you to a prolonged state of purely visceral emotions. An almost out of body occurrence, your intelligent brain escapes while your reptilian brain delights in the carnage of screeching wheels and imploding metal.

It’s a lot like witnessing a car crash.

Or,  like watching someone have a heart attack.

The Team

Director—Giorgio Angelini
Giorgio Angelini is a writer, director, and producer. His background is in architecture and music. (He used to be in some bands that did some things). He sees a big intersection between architecture and film-making, and the name of his “boutique” film production company, Section Perspective Films is a nod to that realization. Angelini started the production company when he began to work on his first feature documentary film about housing culture in America (Owned, A Tale of Two Americas). Since then, he served as executive producer on My Friend Dahmer (2017), and is currently in production on his next feature documentary about Pepe the Frog, memetics, and the rise of far-right youth politics in America.

Executive Producers—Greg Feldman and Thomas Campbell

Producer—Mary Ellen Carroll
Mary Ellen Carroll’s (MEC, studios) prolific career as an internationally recognized conceptual artist spans more than thirty years and occupies the disciplines of architecture/design, writing, film, performance and technology. Carroll frequently collaborates. She is the recipient of numerous grants and honors. This year they include the 2018 Swedish IASPIS Award, the 2018 Pollock/Krasner Award and the 2018 Storefront for Art and Architecture Award. Her work has been widely exhibited and screened, and is numerous public and private collections. Performances, public presentations, lecturing and teaching, are an important part of Carroll’s work and institutions have included:  Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, The DIA Art Foundation in New York, MOMA in New York,  Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, Busan Museum of Modern Art in South Korea, Yale University, Rice University in Houston, Columbia University in New York, and Princeton University—just to name a few.

Director of Photography—Michael Isabell
Michael Isabell is a highly acclaimed director of photography. He has filmed and photographed numerous projects throughout the world. The outlets include:  the NYTimes, Italian Vogue, The Guardian, amongst others. He has been a long time collaborator with Carroll. In 2003, Isabell shot FEDERAL, the 24 hour, two theater movie that documents the western headquarters of the Federal Government in Los Angeles. It was filmed from the north and south over a 24 hour period in order to “Watch the Watchers” and with the complicitness of the federal government. Isabell has a production company — EYESPY Films that is based in Hudson, New York. He is currently working on a documentary about the Spartan Race.

Editor—John Magary
John Magary has written and directed several short films and the feature film, The Mend. His short film The Second Line played at Sundance and SXSW (Special Jury Award). With feature script Go Down, Antoinette, he attended the Sundance Directors/Screenwriters Labs and received a Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship and Annenberg Film Fellowship.

Assistant Editor—Michael Kohlbrenner
Michael Kohlbrenner is a filmmaker and editor.

Sound– Ryan Billia
Ryan Billia is an audio engineer and sound designer based in Brooklyn, NY specializing in audio post for the film, TV, advertising, and “new media” communities. He is the owner and engineer at Rumble Audio, LLC in Long Island City.

Photographer—Michele Asselin
Michele Asselin is an artist best known for her photographic portraiture focusing on individual identities within larger social constructs. Early in her career she covered current events in Israel for the Associated Press (1994-1995). After relocating to the US, she lived in New York and worked as an editorial photographer. Many of her iconic portraits of leading cultural and public figures, including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Jeff Koons, and Kara Walker, have been widely published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, London Sunday Guardian, and Wired, among others.  In her artistic practice, Asselin continues her examination of individuals and community and carries over many of the techniques and concentrations from her editorial work. 

Production—Gaston Nogues, Ball/Nogues
Gaston Nogues is a partner in the LA firm, Ball/Nogues. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires before moving to Los Angeles at age 12. Frequently accompanying his father to his job as an aerospace engineer, Nogues acquired a fascination with the hands-on process of building. An honors graduate in architecture from SCI-Arc, he moved directly from school into a position at Gehry Partners where he worked in product design and production and became a specialist in creative fabrication. He remained there until 2005 except for a one-year stint in 1996 as an assistant curator at a fine arts publishing house, Gemini GEL. In his current collaboration with Benjamin Ball, Nogues is focused on fabricating what they visualize; on process as it relates to the built object. In his spare time, Nogues flies para-gliders.

Production—Ken Palmer
Ken Palmer is a race car driver and motorsports enthusiast. He has been a frequent contestant and participant in events at Irwindale Speedway since it opened in 1999.

Graphic Design—Jiminie Ha/With Projects, Inc.
Established in 2008 by Jiminie Ha, W/—— Projects (With Projects, Inc.) imagines artistic and commercial projects from concept to execution. Collaborating with a vast range of artists, designers, and other creative individuals, all endeavors are aligned and informed by strict constraints of size, scale, and topical content. Jiminie Ha is the publisher and editor of White Zinfandel

Pit Crew—Maggie Burns
Maggie Burns is a film producer and executive working in technology and the real estate sector.

Safety-Equipment—Simpson Performance Products
Simpson Performance Products is an American motorsports parts supplier. It supplies gloves, helmets, harness systems, driver’s suits, head restraints, shoes and more to racers at local tracks to international teams. Simpson was the official sponsor for safety gear for Mary Ellen Carroll.

Special Thanks—Mike Atkinson, Doug Stokes, Irwindale Speedway
The Irwindale Event Center is a motorsports facility located in Irwindale, California, United States. It opened on March 27, 1999 under the official name Irwindale Speedway. Mike Atkinson is the Race Director and Doug Stokes is VP of Communication.