Straight to Video 

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If you're scared of terms like "hybridity" and "new cosmopolitanism" -- which has nothing to do with bartending — don't let that keep you away from the University of Richmond's Open-Ended Festival of Time-Based Media, Feb. 28-March 1. The last event in the annual Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts, Open-Ended is an exhibition of video art that deals with those vaguely intimidating words, "Art, Hybridity and the New Cosmopolitanism."

The films deal with varying aspects of globalism and identity in our confusing, topsy-turvy world. And, big surprise, some of them are disturbingly frank and serious. But the work of artists such as Sue Challis and Richmond's own Sonali Gulati — whose "Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night" (above) chronicles workers in Indian call centers who adopt American names on the job — inject humor into what could easily have turned into a lecture worthy of the political science department.

Video seemed a natural choice for the exhibition, according to Elizabeth Schlatter, deputy director and curator of exhibitions at the UR Museums, who co-curated the festival with Jeremy Drummond, assistant professor of art at UR. "We were looking at new media as a hybrid form of art," says Schlatter. Hybrid and demanding — in Hollywood, anyone who writes, directs and shoots his or her own film earns a cult following, or at least an invitation to shoot a Björk video.

Scoring a work by art-world phenom Ryan Trecartin, whose installations have been exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London and at the Whitney Biennial, was a coup, as was booking Coco Fusco, artist, author and professor at Columbia University, whose "Operation Atropos" is the festival's headlining piece. But it's the humor of Gulati and fellow participant Challis that promises to make Open-Ended a compelling show in a challenging medium.

The Open-Ended Festival of Time-Based Media runs Feb. 28-March 1 at Solvent Space, 0 E. Fourth St. Admission is free. Call 287-6423 or visit www.artandhybridity.com.

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