V+M  | 2015

9 channel video and sound installation  |  Created by by JOHN SANBORN  |  Music by Theresa Wong

Co-Produced by Videoformes, Clermont-Ferrand.


Power, Myth, Desire

The ultimate strength is the capacity to love.


We spend our lives becoming the people we are supposed to be - and steps in that development are the archetypes we grow up with - images of male and female that are now outdated. V+M examines the nature and value of Venus and Mars by retelling their story rendered in the language of love, delivered by portraits of three couples (male + female, female + female, male + male) whose attraction and love cross traditional boundaries. The work presents a cross-gender interpretation of the mythic pairing of Eros and Chaos in order to go to the root of what makes Mars, Mars; and Venus, Venus.


The union of Venus and Mars fascinated poets and philosophers as the allegorical example of balance between opposing energies – beauty and brutality, order and magic, and grace and strength. V+M goes beyond the heteronormative code in order to queiry the balance of power in relationships, the nature of myth making and the origins of desire.

V+M Trailer

The trailer for V+M shows portions of the final work which is three times as wide as each still - so what you're seeing is a one-third slice.


The mythical characters in V+M are brought to life by a group of wonderful performers I've been honored to work with for several years.



Ismael Alvarez Acosta

Crystaldawn Bell

Joseph Copley

Margaret Cromwell

Toribia Garcilano

Pablo Lopez

Carlos Venturo

Katherine Wells



The reality of installing V+M at the Videoformes festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France far surpassed my expectations as I was working on the piece in my studio. The scale and the drama were more operatic than even I imagined.


I learned a great deal about how the architecture becomes a character an installation by doing V+M - and I am carrying that insight into some new works for 2015-2016.


Thanks to Gabriel Soucheyre and his Videoformes crew for making this work happen. 

V+M @ Videoformes

V+M showed in November of 2015 at SF Camerawork, a glorious space on Market Street in San Francisco. Instead of the original configuration I altered the piece to play as a huge panorama - 50 feet by 5.5 feet - spanning the entire south wall of the gallery.


The effect was like a mural come to life - and instead of moving the body of the viewer through a space, this moved the mind and the eye across 3 projected images. With this design, the connections and diversions from panel to panel became very clear - adding to the storytelling of these epic characters.


Thanks to Heather Snider and the crew of SF Camerwork.


V+M Stills

V+M is laid out in 9 channels, consisting of three 4096x768 videos. What you see below are all three root channels - laid out with the left channel on top, the center channel in the middle and the right channel on the bottom. You see crops designed to fit the installation into the Chappelle in Clermont Ferrand, where it will premiere on March 18th 2015 as part of the Videoformes festival.

copyright 2020 John Sanborn

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