Found vs. found

Found Magazine and the Found Footage Festival get rowdy at this “found-off” featuring videos, readings and live music.

Martina Marosi

 

What:Found vs. Found

When:10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

Where:Heights Theater , 3951 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights, Minn.

Cost:$14, Event is 18+

Twenty-some years ago, Nick Prueher was at a thrift store in Wisconsin when he stumbled upon a McDonaldâÄôs training video called âÄúInside and Outside Custodial Duties.âÄù Almost a decade later and hundreds of miles away, Chicago-resident Davy Rothbart would find an angry note left on his car addressed to a man named Mario and clearly written by a spurned but hopeful lover who, after declaring her outright hatred for Mario, innocently added as a P.S: âÄúPage me later.âÄù

These two discrete events âÄî which may appear mundane to the untrained eye âÄî would prove to be the inspiration for similar projects that pay special attention to the things we leave behind.

Prueher would go on to collect so many obscure videotapes that he and friend Joe Pickett put together the âÄúFound Footage Festival,âÄù which they have been touring around the country for seven years.

Rothbart printed his first âÄúFound Magazine,âÄù a compilation of found paper-bound miscellany, after quickly discovering his friends had also saved similar items that theyâÄôd found. Rothbart has since printed over a dozen âÄúFoundâÄù books and magazines and has held down a corner of the found market since he sold out of his first 800 copies of issue number one in a single weekend.

On Monday night, the Found Footage Festival and Found Magazine will enter the found-ephemera gauntlet, if there ever was one, and bring out their best âÄúfindsâÄù for a three-round battle royale where both teams will have 12 minutes each round to present and entertain the crowd with their selections.

Rothbart, who receives 100 to 200 pieces of mailed submissions for Found every week, has a sprawling collection that includes love letters, gossipy notes, photographs, to-do lists, doodles and the odd type-written budget that nonchalantly outlines expenditures for both rent, savings and crack on the same page.

Found MagazineâÄôs material, which RothbartâÄôs mother calls âÄúpeople watching on paper,âÄù will be presented through emotional, tongue-in-cheek readings by none other than Rothbart himself, who will bring along his brother, Peter, to perform songs he wrote that were inspired by the miscellaneous bits in FoundâÄôs deep coffers. To Rothbart, the found itemâÄôs author often wrote their pieces with one person or just themselves in mind, and thatâÄôs exactly what makes it ideal substance for an audience-based project.

âÄúThey never anticipated anyone else would see it, so itâÄôs so un-self conscious, so honest. I think people really hunger for things that are real and true,âÄù Rothbart said. This vulnerability manifests itself in a different form in PrueherâÄôs collection, which concerns itself with individuals who, contrarily, did have an audience in mind when creating their work, but their attempts to self-aggrandize and over-theatricalize result in an absurd or endearing display of often fragile egos.

In addition to snippets from the McDonaldâÄôs training video, Prueher and Pickett will also show a âÄúRent-A-FriendâÄù thatâÄôs intended to be purchased by especially lonely homebodies and selections from a home shopping video from 1983. He and Pickett have also put together a âÄúWonderful WeirdosâÄù compilation.

Prueher and PickettâÄôs Found Footage Festival finds its roots primarily in âÄô80s and âÄô90s instructional, exercise, home- made or odd footage that steers toward camp in an overly ambitious display of mediocre talent. Rothbart sees his collection as small windows into the private worlds of passing strangers.

âÄúWeâÄôre surrounded by strangers walking down the street, sitting on the bus. ItâÄôs natural to be curious [about] what other peopleâÄôs experiences being human is like. ThatâÄôs what these notes give you in a really powerful and potent way,âÄù Rothbart said.

Just how the particular items that comprise Found Magazine and the Found Footage Festival come into existence is often a mystery, but it is this partial peek into the lives of others that make the projects so popular. People may watch videos, read notes or see photographs never intended for their eyes âÄî and then come to their own conclusions âÄî but Rothbart believes this is all part of a natural desire to narrativize the unfamiliar and generate answers when only a small piece of the puzzle can be found.

âÄúA certain degree of voyeurism is healthy,âÄù Rothbart said.