Portfolio: Video performance art, 2008-2014

A portfolio reel of video performance art created between 2008 and 2014 (Color/Stereo 34:10 mins USA). The second movie, Depression as Geography 2009, was selected for CologneOff 7.

As I plan a video essay about greenscreening and collect my thoughts, including why I greenscreen, I have begun to look at my older video works. I realized that almost as soon as I bought my first camera, I was taken with layers, beginning with shadows and reflections; and that eventually led me to keying out the visible world and replacing it with imaginary environments.

As an extremely introverted person with Asperger’s, I learned the hard lesson that if I do not consciously take my inner life with me everywhere I go, I feel awkward, uncomfortable, frustrated, unhappy and dissociated.

It seems such a paradox that staying inside my head, my comfort zone, helps keep me in the moment and grounded in the “real world.” In a way, greenscreening allows me to create a real geographic location out of my inner life.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT, November 30, 2016

For about a minute (3 years, actually, I think), I had a fiscal sponsor so that I would be eligible to apply for grants as an artist. I think I applied for three grants in the first six months of my sponsorship. I did not get even a nibble of interest in my proposals, which I expected to happen, having been competing for exhibitions, gigs and cash as an artist for most of my adult life and thus knowing rejection is part of the artist’s life.

I suppose I could say that I gave up, even though I maintained the sponsorship just in case while feverishly creating work that I spend (not that much cash outlay on, really) most of my waking hours making, somebody else magically appeared and offered me a grant that I needed a fiscal sponsor to administer.

But I could also say that since I’ve mostly paid for my own work and dealt directly as an independent artist with art dealers, collectors, theater producers, casting directors, video art curators and film festival administrators, that nobody is my boss except me and I am not beholden to anyone except my husband who is periodically inconvenienced by stage sets all over the apartment.

Anybody who puts their work “out there” is participating in the System no matter how much they might rail against it – as I will never stop pointing out that art dealers, curators and producers would not have anything to do if artists stopped making art or just didn’t play with art dealers, curators and producers anymore.

Independent artists, even ferociously independent artists like me – who would rather fail and or be repeatedly rejected than take commissions, fill out forms and reports, create and justify budgets, follow protocols that exist primarily because of bylaws nobody’s ever read since the person who wrote them, and commingle with patrons – are just as much part of the System as those folks who get all the grants.

The System is anybody considering your work at all for any reason and to any end.

My movie, “before chill,” selected


I am very pleased that”before chill” was selected for 2016 Creative Arts Film Festival and nominated in CAFF’s ‘Perfect Spirit Award’ category. This movie is a video poem about aging/the changing of the seasons. It was inspired by the signs that winter is about to happen here in San Francisco, this town that “has no seasons.” Just like everywhere else that I’ve lived, however, there is a pungency, a dryness in the whispering breeze that will grow into a raging wind in a few weeks, a stillness and a beautiful pearlescent sky. I shot this movie on my way home from dayjob as I the scenic route through San Francisco’s beautiful Civic Center. I edited this movie in first-gen Splice on my IPhone. What a lovely way that was to begin twilight. A limited edition DVD is available on Saatchi Art


Sylvia Toy Art Films on Etsy – New Slideshow of Production Stills

Sylvia Toy Art Films. DVDs are available on Etsy.

Sylvia Toy on Saatchi Art – New Trailer

Sylviatoyindustries on Saatchi Art

The Harpy Tribunal, live multimedia performances (Prospectuses)

I am interested in live performance opportunities. I have 17-years of experience as a touring theater artist, the expertise to produce stage-ready presentations, and the technical skills and software/equipment set-up to broadcast live. My current stage-ready performances are part of a series video performances and performance art movies about a goddess who awakens after 10,000 years in a coma. She is bewildered and horrified as she becomes more awake and remembers that her sisters put her into a coma as a punishment. In the live multi­media performances of The Harpy Tribunal and The Harpy Sisterhood, the actor/performer interacts with the Sisterhood portrayed on video.


The Harpy Tribunal.

The multi-media performance is approximately 7 minutes long from entrance to exit. There are three distinct parts. The performance (a) begins with the accused Harpy angrily intoning her distress and finally collapsing in tears; (b) continues she silently waits for her sisters; and (c) ends as she silently, respectfully listens to her sisters sing their accusation. Actions in the video and live performance are ritualistic, choreographed – i.e., very formal due to the solemn theme: a trial of a goddess by her sisters for the treason of disagreeing with them and saying they were wrong to create humans.


The Harpy Sisterhood.

The multi­media performance is approximately 10 minutes long from entrance to exit. There are three distinct parts. The performance begins with the accused Harpy asleep and dreaming as the background video shows her sisters rejecting her. She screams herself awake. In the second part, The Harpy silently waits for her sisters as marching steps and gong signal the gathering of the Sisterhood Harpy Tribunal.

In the third part, the Harpy silently, respectfully listens to her sisters sing their accusation but begins proclaiming her innocence. The Harpy Sisterhood ends with the Sisterhood marching out. Actions in the video and live performance are ritualistic, choreographed i.e., very formal due to the solemn theme: a trial of a goddess by her sisters for the treason of disagreeing with them and saying they were wrong to create humans.

The live performer will portray the accused Harpy. The effect should be theatrical; the live performer will not break the Fourth Wall i.e., interact with the audience any more than a real­life accused would interact with spectators or the jury in a courtroom. The ongoing story of The Harpy is, ultimately, an exploration of what “peer” status is in society and how that status is affected when a member of society rejects decisions or standards that have been agreed upon or accepted by their peers as a group. In the Harpies’ world, law and punishment are relentless in the end, the offending sister is condemned to a 10,000 year coma; when she awakens, her entire species including her sisters have become extinct. The story is also an exploration of whether in the big picture society allows itself to be affected by dissension/protest, and if so, whether the result is a positive or negative impact. I suspect the impact will be reflected in the responses and reactions of each audience member and his/her judgment not only of the Harpy, but also of the judges.



honorablemention-laundergroundfilmforum-2016I was expecting a rejection today, but it was not quite. You can make a crazy movie in your living room about being bipolar with your psychoses in outer space; and get an honorable mention in a cool film festival in LaLaLand!