It was a race against time.
Two weeks was all sculptural artist Kevin Titzer had to create an art installation from scratch at the University of Southern Indiana in September 2018.
“It’s like making art at gunpoint,” he says.
The entire creative process — from scrounging through hoarders’ trash, building the installation, and tearing it down — was recorded for a documentary screening in November called “Sack Race with Knives: The Curious Art of Kevin Titzer.” The film is named after the installation, which took its moniker from the discarded, often jagged materials used in it and the speed with which it was assembled.
Local photographer Jordan Barclay directed the 25-minute documentary and served as cinematographer. Barclay put the finishing touches on the documentary in August, nearly five years after he began work on the project.
In 2018, Titzer arranged to create an installation at USI’s Pace McCutchan Gallery as the gallery’s first artist-in-residence. Titzer has exhibited his unique sculptural work across the world since graduating from USI in 1997 but began creating installations in 2017. He originated three installations in Saguenay, Canada, and Guadalajara, Mexico, from reclaimed items and decided to create one in Evansville.
Titzer contacted Barclay, who had long wanted to collaborate, to capture the process.
The two worked together on video projects in the past, and Barclay, also a USI graduate, was interested in pursuing what for him was a passion project.
For two weeks, Barclay filmed as Titzer went through dumpsters, trash drop-offs, and flea markets to find individual pieces that would become collective parts of a monolithic installation. The outcome was a room-sized assemblage of repurposed materials made to be touched, walked through, and examined.
Barclay served as cinematographer for the 2016 documentary “The Invisible Patients,” written and directed by Patrick O’Connor, formerly of Evansville, now residing in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
Barclay says he likes “to be a fly on the wall” and document what he sees.
Titzer was used to his work being photographed, but not accustomed to someone re- cording every moment of the creative process.
“I think it helped I knew him, but it definitely took some adjustment. It was difficult. I wonder how it changed the creative process for the better, though,” Titzer says.
Barclay funded the majority of the documentary, with partial financial assistance from the USI Foundation.
When Titzer returned to Canada, filming was not complete. The team spent the next year interviewing Titzer’s past professors and colleagues, as well as finishing up any needed local B-roll. Evansville filmmaker Thomas Bernardin began post-production editing in 2020 with help from a USI Foundation grant.
The result is a documentary Barclay is eager to enter into film festivals and that both Titzer and Barclay are excited to share with audiences.
Evansville artists and creators made the project a reality, Barclay says.
“The featured artist, filmmaker, crew, interviewees, and the musician of the soundtrack are entirely compromised of creatives from Evansville, showing that this project really showcases our local talent,” he says.
WHEN YOU GO
“Sack Race with Knives: The Curious Art of Kevin Titzer” Screening
6:30 p.m. Nov. 18
Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, 201 N.W. Fourth St.
Free admission, but seating is limited.
A Q&A with Titzer, Barclay, and Bernardin will follow the screening.