Negative Capability started from the soundtrack: an audio-collage, which Vainsencher
out of recordings of conversations with her mother, a Uruguayan psychoanalyst who lives in Israel,
over the course of one year. She cut and rearranged her mother's words, sometimes creating a new
sentence out of many disparate ones, sometimes leaving whole minutes untouched. She even made a song
out of her mother's “ehh”s and “uh”s. What remains is a monologue that turned out to be equally about
her mother's process as an analyst and her own process as an artist. The title of the work refers to
the words the English poet John Keats used to describe Shakespeare's ability to inhabit the minds of
characters so disparate and far from his own. The psychoanalytical theorist Wilfred Bion borrowed
Keats' phrase to describe the analyst's single most important ability—to be able to exist in a state
of not-knowing, in order to arrive at a deeper understanding. Vainsencher joins this chain by pointing
out the importance of this same ability in the creative process.
Duet features Leslie Satin, a dancer, choreographer, and professor at New York
Satin and Vainsencher met at Yaddo in 2009 and have worked together on several projects since. To make
this work, Vainsencher positioned her camera on a tripod in front of Satin, and started swiveling it
from side to side, in a panning shot. She asked Satin to move her head from side to side, like a
slow-motion “no”, always in opposition to the direction in which the camera on the tripod was
swiveling. The result is a slightly sea-sickness-inducing duet. The work seems to be in a repetitive
loop, but in fact, each repetition is cut closer to the end of the single-shot work, so that with each
iteration Satin is closer to finishing her movement. The very last iterations are only a few seconds
long. Continuing the themes of Negative Capability, Satin's solemn refusal suggests a
negation, while both the shaking of the head and the panning of the camera follow the arc of a
semicircle. Combined, the two might make a complete circle, but instead they draw attention to the
empty space between the performer and the lens.
The process for Leslie Across the Floor started from Vainsencher's encounter with Leslie
Satin, a dancer and choreographer who studied with Merce Cunningham and teaches at New York
University. In this work Vainsencher explores a parallel between video and dance: entrances and exits.
Both the traditional dance stage and the cinematic frame have edges which one must exit and enter.
These points of entry and departure also stand in for the narrative's edges: the beginning and the
end. To create the choreography for this video, Vainsencher asked Satin to improvise a movement which
was an entrance that turns into an exit. Satin laid on her back and Vainsencher laid down on her
stomach with the camera at floor-height to shoot Satin entering then leaving the frame, like a worm
inching in reverse. The second phase in the process happened in Vainsencher's studio, where she
replaced the video's soundtrack. Instead of the sound of a soft body being pushed/dragged across a
polished wood floor, she recorded, in synchronicity with Satin's movements, the sound of what she
imagined Richard Serra's sculptures—which are made of forged steel and weigh many tons—would sound
like when dragged across an industrial cement floor.
Here It Comes began with a short video of gentle waves which Vainsencher had shot on the
shallow end of a beach in Le Havre, France. She replaced the sounds of the ocean with a soundtrack
made by recording her own voice whispering two overlapping sentences, repeated many times: “Here it
comes” and “It’s coming.” Vainsencher aimed to make a replica of the ocean's sounds with her voice,
evoking something between anticipation and anxiety. For the artist, it would be “ridiculous” to feel
these emotions in front of such a calm sea, but as she points out, isn't the internal landscape always
more powerful than the external one?