I often think about and write about how fortunate I feel to live in a time when an artist, in a very real way, share her/his work with the rest of the world. I have to acknowledge, also, how grateful I am for having had professional gallery representation as a sculptor for the better part of 30 years; and how grateful I am for getting paid so often as an actor in alternative & small theater. It was nice to be treated like a star at so many art openings and to get a check, however small, at the end of a theater gig.
But I have never been more satisfied as an artist than my last ten years as a video performance artist and filmmaker. Except for periodically and getting cast in other artists’ film projects, I mostly am solo – i.e., I am “lights, camera, action” and continuity all rolled into one. My husband had a brilliant idea: “Just call yourself the executive producer like they do on television.”
And I have never been happier as an artist and as a person than my past 12 months as a video performance artist and filmmaker who doesn’t have dayjob anymore. Simply stated, I “retired,” celebrated over a weekend and the following Monday, set up green screen at the same time of day that I went to dayjob the Monday before, and within three months had a brand new 40 minute (THE BLUE LADY, full version) and a brand new 25 minute (PASSAGES, A MYTH, full version) available on Amazon. Yeah, I know – it’s tacky to sell avant garde, “I don’t know what it is” video performance art on Amazon. But it also is tacky not to have gallery representation as a visual artist or not to make more than a few bucks in a year as an actor. As an independent filmmaker, I am represented by a seasoned arts publicist/arts administrator who only has my best interests at heart.
However. Or rather, however, since I am working in solitude but not a vacuum, I do not simply point, shoot and edit. I experiment quite a lot – most of my time is spent in research and pre-production rather than in actual production, i.e., I was in pre-production of THE BLUE LADY for 1-1/2 years and then shot it totally by myself in 3 weeks. I share virtually of my pre-production: 1) on YouTube, where I receive sparse but helpful feedback; 2) on Vimeo, which often reminds me of art class critiquing and scrutiny; and 3) on Facebook, where I serendipitously have a tremendous network of curators and artist peers. People complain about Facebook but it doesn’t surprise me that my artist peers complain about Facebook less often than most intellectuals. And that probably is not because we are less intellectual. That probably is because Facebook makes possible the kind of community that most of us never had since we were in school.
One of the benefits of participating in such a proactive artists’ community is being encouraged to participate at the exhibition level. I was so public and had so many shows as a visual artist and as a theater artist that I really did not want to “go through that again as a moving picture artist. Cinema is such a social sport; and I was so burned out (as a paralegal) from social interaction when I left dayjob, that except for workshopping my work to my peers on Vimeo and social media, I wanted to be anonymous. 12 months is 365 days of not riding the subway with grumpy people. And several of my Facebook contacts have gently prodded me – gently, I say, not nagging like some art dealers that I have known – they have prodded me the whole time to “put my work out there, there being the world of our peers and our fans, supporters and patrons.
My friends’ gentle prodding finally led me to remember the magic of editing and the possibility of making cuttings of my movies that are shorter versions, each with its own story arc. I am pleased to share here my “festival cuttings.”