Films

At Sea by Peter Hutton

The Mirror by Andrey Tarkovsky

My work is particularly influenced by The Mirror. For me this is one of the most inspiring dance films. At the time that I saw this film, I had been watching many recently made dance films. They all felt contrived in the way the camera moved with the dancer. The camera seemed to follow the movement of the dancer, rising with the dancer as her arms moved upward. In The Mirror, the camera instead moves with the space around the bodies. The movement of the camera in relationship to the movement of the subjects uncovers their wonder, the dynamics of their relationships, their findings, and their dreams. There is a conversation between the movements of the body and the movements of the imagination through breathtaking sequences. In particular, there is a sequence when the children are eating breakfast, the mother shouts that there is a fire. The children leave the room and the camera zooms out on the empty room, the bottle on the table falls down. The space speaks in this moment and the absence is made present and then broken by the bottle falling. In the sequence, the camera zooms and pans away from the empty room and finds the children and uncovers the house burning down, which the family is watching from a distance. This film inspires me to create pieces that uncover space. It’s not just about the action of the characters or what they have to say, but the relationship between them and their perceptions of the world, and the space and the landscape through which these perceptions and their movements of freedom make their way.

Highview by Simon Liu, Warren Ng, and Ben Hozie at Mono No Aware X

 It is feels a bit discounting  describe why this work inspired me (aesthetic principles, structure, content, representation, etc.) because it swept me up into what is the most beautiful and personal experience, indescribable and bereft of needing any reason to understand it. It immersed the viewer in its color and potency. The work involved four 16mm projectors being operated by the creators of the piece. The films overlapped one another, going in and out of moments, moments recurring and travelling but never settling, a sublime exposition of moments. An image that will live with me for life is the doubling that was created not in camera or in editing but by overlaying the projected images. An image of a burning stick projected on top of what may have been the filmmaker’s mother or grandmother, making it seem like her heart was on fire as her eyes gazed into the audience. Her image repeated while the stick continued to burn. The stick finished burning, only one projection was visible (the others went dark) and we see her bow her head. This project was stunning in its execution. I would like to develop technical rigor with analog formats so that I can have the facility to make incredible worlds such as these live through cinema.

 

At Sea by Peter Hutton

I would like to develop my cinematic vision so that I can capture the moments around me for the honest monumentality of what they are are when I experience them in passing. I would like to make my daily life a field for cinematic possibility rather than just reserving movie making for my time in the studio or my scheduled shoots. This is a goal for this next year.

 

Jienne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman

Often with my feminist or social justice work I try to remind myself that I want to create something new and not something that just regurgitates society’s ill approach toward women, but instead paints the female experience in a way that I have not yet seen before but that women could deeply connect with. This is how I felt when I saw this film this past year. Through the way Akerman uses alternative approaches to duration and a completely unexpected approach toward action, she is able to paint a picture of a woman in a way we have never seen before and is also honest and intense. I am also interested in the effect of framing in this film and the shifts of space over time. The space (in this case the house) has a life of its own in the moments before she enters and after she exits, it has a relationship with her. The space shifts along with her in a way that leads up to the climax of the film.

 

Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren

This feels to be a perfect piece of cinema. The structure of this film feels perfect. In my piece, The World of Wrestling, there is a clear task at hand, a building and a destroying of a mound of dirt, which happens over and over. The repetition settles until small changes alter it and begin to unwind the cycle, leading to a moment of crisis.

 

Blue Velvet by David Lynch

I saw this film in 2011 in an English Class when I was a dance major. It made me rethink how movement, or dance, could realize itself, and it wouldn’t have to be through a dance performance or through a dancer’s body. In the introduction, there is an established tone of perfectness, of stillness, distance, and harmony in the town. Suddenly the father experiences a stroke in the garden and the stillness is broken and the water from the hose explodes. There is an upclose shot of bugs burying underground, moving rapidly and erratically. This marks an immediate up-closeness and distinct contrast to the distance and the stillness from before. There is a sense of exposing what is bubbling underneath this seemingly harmonious world, which has been unraveled after a sudden moment of crisis on the surface. I was then deeply inspired by the use of only movement and change of style in a film to realize a clear change in meaning.

Books

Grapefruit Book by Yoko Ono

Nietzsche’s Zarathustra by Kathleen Higgins

This book was written by my Philosophy mentor Kathleen Higgins. She looks at Thus Spoke Zarathustra from an interdisciplinary approach. I am particularly inspired by the way she frames Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence and the implications the doctrine has on time-based art forms such as music, performance, and film. I am inspired by the way she offers alternative  possibilities to the Western Christian doctrine of sin which instills a linear view of time. She proposes the cyclical perspective on time as a valuable possibility. In my work, my timing is most inspired by the way she articulates this doctrine, I hope to make tangible a feeling of potency, focussing on the present moment into which past and future collapse. I like to think that it is not necessary that we imagine we are venturing forward to an end but rather we can see life, and the time-based art works that mirror the same temporal structure of life, to be a whole entity, not a forward moving line.

 

The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir

De Beauvoir describes our existence as ambiguous because we are both objects and subjects. We have dreams, we try to establish meaning, but we are always subjected to the world around us and limited by the consequences of our body. There are many oppositions, tensions, and paradoxes of life that make our existence ambiguous. In my work, I use these oppositions and contrasts of experience to create pieces that might make visible this fundamental ambiguity.

 

On&By Luc Tuymans

Some passages in this book have influenced me to have confidence as an artist in what I believe is important work and what I believe my work could mean. Tuymans talks about the significance of a moving image versus the significance of a still image. This inspired me to find the different significances for moving picture and a moving body, and inspired me to combine them to expose this tension in my practice.

 

Poetics of Cinema by Raul Ruiz

Volume I: I’ve always wanted to create a feature narrative, but I’ve never created a narrative before and I often don’t like the predisposed structures that make us expect what a narrative should be. Ruiz proposes alternative modes for devising a narrative structure. I will revisit these modes when writing my narrative, which I hope to embark on this coming year.

Devotional Cinema by Nathaniel Dorsky

There is one passage in this book that has stuck for me. We have come to assume that art starts with a concept. What is a piece about. But it’s important that we also realize that there are many mysteries to life. If you are starting with a concept you are confirming that you know, fundamentally however, we do not know, let the vibrant mysteries of the world be uncovered through the material of the world around us, let this material speak through film.

 

Grapefruit Book by Yoko Ono

What happens when we propose the impossible? We can  dream of possible situations and we can dream of impossible situations. What is the difference between the possibilities that can be realized and the possibilities that cannot be realized, that can just be imagined? What does this failure to realize entail? What kind of tension do we experience when we read or encounter an impossible proposition? Fog Piece III, “Send A Fog to Your Friend”

 

The Funambulist Pamphlets -  Spinoza, by Leopold Lambert

I am interested in the chapter on Butoh. In Butoh we imagine outside sources moving us so that we may have a more permeable body. Lambert argues that we do have a permeable body through the lens of Spinoza and the interconnectedness of the world. In Western theater, we establish people as separate beings who establish themselves and move through the world, but maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. We are always with and being moved by the world around us. I am falling but the earth is falling too.

 

Still Images

Tastumi Hijikata, photo by Eikoh Hosoe

Luc Tuymans - Embitterment

A painting of three sunken flowers. After seeing this, I’ve tried to find the movement of wilting flowers in my body. I am interested in contrasting the upright external pedestrian body that could exist simultaneously with the internal grieving body, which may feel to be sinking as wilting flowers do.

 

Eikoh Hosoe collaborations with Tatsumi Hijikata

Tatsumi Hijikata is ultimately the most inspiring performance artist for me, and Eikoh Hosoe captures what I feel was Hijikata’s goal as an artist. Hijikata treated the body as a material and explored the imagination’s effect on the body. Movement subjects includes images of transformation, such as mud melting, drying, and blowing in the wind, a seaweed being moved by the water. The performer stretches their edge in effort to achieve these impossible tasks. In Hosoe’s photos of Hijikata you see Hijikata dancing on the edge, his strength and sensitivity, and you also see his failure in face of these imaginations.

Poetry

The Mirror by Andrey Tarkovsky

Arseny Tarkovsky - Eurydice

This poem has been a catalyst for almost all of my projects in the past three years. “I dream of a different soul Dressed in other clothes Burning as it runs From timidity to hope Spiritous and Shadowless Like fire it travels the earth Leaves lilac behind on the table To be remembered by”

I am inspired by the existential structures of freedom and facticity, the situation that we are thrown into and yet we are able to dream of what is not here, and that ability to recognize absence allows us to imagine what could be possible, the possibilities of which we could make tangible through the creation of art.  Burning As It Runs is inspired by this poem. A woman tied to landscape dreaming of what she could be or what she once was.

 

Performance

Cafe Mueller by Pina Bausch

I have been inspired by the use of contrasting movement and images in the piece. The erratic woman in the long coat and high heels and her jittery pedestrian movement, the dramatic lamentation of Pina Bausch in the white dress, the man dressed in the suit who dutifully and unquestionably moves the chairs out of Pina Bausch’s way as she slams her body to the wall, and the woman who continuously removes her shirt to lay on the table with a bare chest. As it is presented in Wim Wender’s movie Pina, it reminds me of a diorama that we can peer into and see the souls of our society in conversation with one another as we confront our fears, our failures, and our hopes. The famous repetition of the woman embracing the man and falling is inspiring. Though The World of Wrestling is much longer, I created the piece with this sequence in mind, a task that is done over and over again with slight changes in the task over time so that eventually there is moment of crisis and the task and those performing it break down.

 

Beauty by Wura-Natasha Ogunji

A piece by one of my mentors. Women from the University, students and professors, stood in the West Mall on campus with their hair tied together for four hours. A physical performance that has a task so simple yet so difficult, and the image of these women connected by the hair was so powerful. Hair is often how we are designated and defined, how we are judged in the public sphere. Wura takes this concern and makes it incredibly strong and delicate.

 

Laurie Anderson at the LEIMAY Benefit

The first and only performance I’ve seen since the recent election about the election. I haven’t been ready to see most performances about Donald Trump or about the election. But it was the most incredible performance I’ve seen of 2016, and one of the most incredible performances of my entire life. Anderson’s timing in her storytelling and musical performance was stirring and stopping for me. She reminded us that we “are drowning in our stories.” I am grateful to her for describing the sadness of our current climate through the most poetic piece that has been imprinted in my memory

 

Exhibitions

Crossroads by Bruce Conner

Laura Poitras “Astro Noise” at The Whitney. In this exhibition there was a video piece shot at ground zero. Poitras zooms extremely close on the faces of what appears to be family members and spectators who went to the site after 9/11. There are all kinds of people and families who react in different ways but are always broken, and we can see the moment of crisis when they break down. These images inspired my film, LOOK FOR ME. Someone turning their head and looking at something, and being changed by it, that was the most moving experience I’ve ever had.  Vulnerable moments when we witness a change, a shift in that person’s personal experience. In LOOK FOR ME, I turn this image of looking back onto the same performer in a psychoanalytic exploration of doubling.

 

Bruce Conner “It’s All True” at MoMA

I loved seeing Bruce Conner’s film Crossroads at the Moma, and was immersed in the beauty and yet chilling emptiness and epic frankness of the film. I was also particularly struck by Report. There is a sequence in Report that so clearly evokes the failure that humanity experiences so deeply at times and the confusion that happens after a huge loss, especially when the event is twisted in many directions through the media. In this case it was the loss of John F. Kennedy. As the film goes on, through found media footage and sound, the truth of what happened is disoriented. There is a sequence of a bullfight and the death of the bull is combined with sounds of the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. This scene has imprinted in my memory and I feel is important to me when considering the concerns of our country today.

 

Music

The Tree of Life by Terrence Mallick

“Funeral Canticle” by Sir John Tavener

I will often lay with my eyes closed listening to this song and find the images for my next pieces. I listen to the deep melancholy of the piece and the immersive warmth of the tone while finding my choreographic timing. I find my pauses for stillness when the song pauses, and my moments of chaos and my rhythm through the timing of this song.

 

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