Major Art Attack

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We all know what happens to video art. It plays to sparse audiences in a dark museum room that people leave after a few curious but dutiful minutes.

If you don't mind, stay in that room. Deborah Stratman's strange video, In Order Not to Be Here, is not a movie. And at least not until its chilling and lovely conclusion, it will not satisfy your expectations of a narrative arc. Stratman, 36, has made videos in the past, like The BLVD, about drag racing down the streets of Chicago, that resemble documentaries. That is, if the documentary form allowed lingering passages of moody nighttime shop fronts. But her 33-min. video for the Biennial is different. It's mood music made from bad moods.

After an introduction that shows aerial footage of a suspect being taken into custody by cops with dogs, Stratman assembles images that appear to be made by surveillance cameras trained on bleak suburban nowheres — mall parking lots, ATMs, inhospitable private homes. This is what our fears look like: not pretty but, in a strange way, absorbing. The video ends with a simulated cop chase, seen from above, in night-vision photography. You know the man fleeing is the "perpetrator." All the same, you hope he gets away.

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