Sylvia Toy St. Louis | List of Work (Exhibition List | Videography), January 2018

Year of creation: 2008

Psychotic Artifacts. Exhibited in The Revolution Will Be Televised, Altered Esthetics Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, 2008.

Year of creation: 2010

Depression As Geography. Exhibited in ‘CologneOff VII, Marrakech and Turkestan, 2011.

Year of creation: 2011

Indigo Lady. Selected for L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival, Femmes Fatales Grand Jury Award, 2016.

Indigo Lady pre-production videos. Exhibited at Galerie Chartier, West Haven, CT, 2013; KAPAS Film Festival, Spain, 2012.

Runnn. Exhibited on Skye Arte TV, Italy, 2013-2014.

Traveling To. Exhibited in STREETVIDEO Art on the streets of Paris and at Larcade Gallery, Paris October 2012, March 2013.

TYFTB (thank you from the bottom), (remastered and re-released 2017). Pre-production video screened at Galerie Chartier, West Haven CT, 2013.

Year of creation: 2013

Lucy, the First Human (remastered and re-released in 2017). Featured in The Unstitute Projection Room, November – December 2017.

running out. Exhibited in Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong, 2014.

VOICE Pre-production videos. 2013-2016. Exhibited in International Video Art Exchange Program, Marrakech (2016) and in the Chemcraft Exhibit, CM Projects, London (2015).

Year of creation: 2014

before chill. Selected for Creative Arts Film Festival and awarded Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography, Online festival, 2016.

Queen. Exhibited in “Clash,” Siger Art Gallery, London, November 2017.

Year of creation: 2014

The Sound of Being. Toured internationally in Magmart F.I.V.E., 2014-2015. Exhibited in CCIFabrika “Now&After17,” Moscow, RU, 2017.

Year of creation: 2015

The Blue Lady by Sylvia Toy. Exhibited in 1974-1978 UNL Alumni Exhibition, Eisentrager-Howard Art Gallery, Lincoln, NE, 2016.

Passages, a Myth. Excerpt, PASSAGES, A MYTH | DISCOVERY OF THE PREGNANCY OF THE KING, exhibited in Festival Miden, Kalamata, Greece, 2016 and at Visual Container, Milan, IT 2017.

KILLER JANE Pre-production videos. 2015-2017. Selected for L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival and awarded a Femmes Fatales Grand Jury Award, 2016.

Year of creation: 2016

THE HARPY by Sylvia Toy. Selected for Bucharest ShortCut CineFest, September, 2016.

VOICE, a performance art movie. Selected for Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival, 2017. Awarded Honorable Mention laurels by Los Angeles Underground Film Forum, 2016. Awarded Honorable Mention laurels by Experimental Film Forum, 2017.

VOICE Festival Cutting 2. Exhibited at VisualContainer TV (2016 and 2017) and toured in HearteartH to Barcelona, Berlin, Milan (2016).

VOICE Festival Cutting 3. Exhibited in Underground FilmFest, Munich, Germany, July 2017. Exhibited in Black Underground Film Fest, Rancho Cucamonga, California, October 2017.

Year of creation: 2017

THE HARPY Tribunal. Exhibited on Art Web Gallery, La Spezia, IT, online June-July 2017.

KILLER JANE by Sylvia Toy. Exhibited at Klanghaus, Oakland CA, May 2017. Selected for Chicago Amarcord Arthouse Film Awards, November 2017.

AND SO I SAID. Exhibited in Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival, Montreal, December 2017.

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VOICE, a performance art movie is in the house

I have made autobiographical art about mental illness for twenty five years, including sculpture and solo theatre. One of my friends and theatre collaborators told me I’ve made so much art about it that I’ve almost cured myself of bipolar disorder. By the time I began working on VOICE, a performance art movie, it wasn’t autobiographical anymore. I was able to make surrealistic fiction about a middle-class woman who is so clueless about mental health that she is too embarrassed to tell her therapist that she was treated for an eating disorder as a young woman; a woman who is so out of touch with her inner self that her psychoses leave the planet without her. Also, the woman has had artist’s block since college – that’s not me! When the movie opens, she is a shell and her life has fallen apart.

I could never let my life fall apart like my character does. That’s not in my makeup. But I could also never let myself be vulnerable and as open to change as she is. I envy her vulnerability. I’m sure I’ve BEEN as vulnerable as anyone else; but as soon as I FEEL vulnerable, unlike the character in my movie, I become aggressive instead of falling apart.

This year, VOICE made me what is probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Her response to the movie has me in tears every time I think about it because she made it so personal. I believe that a work of art is not completed by its maker, but instead continues to be made by its viewers.

Years ago I toured a solo show about me and a mean voice that started inside my head when I was 8 years old. In the show, I play myself and the voice fighting constantly for control. When you’ve been living like that for 40 years, you can’t help but have a sense of humor or you’ll REALLY go crazy. But my audiences were usually dead silent in what I thought were the most deadly funny parts of my show until one night at the Midnight Sun in Olympia, Washington when the 15 schizophrenic outpatients I’d sold discounted tickets to, laughed so hard that I kept having to stop the show and I forgot some of my lines. That was art continuing in the viewer. My BFF making me cry about her response to VOICE is art continuing in the viewer.

A movie that I greenscreened by myself in my livingroom about a bipolar woman in therapy whose psychoses abandon her for outer space was such catharsis that I have to let it go – I have to let it continue. Thanks to Onlineum for spurring me to expedite subtitles so that VOICE could be part of Onlineum’s launch this past week.

VOICE, a performance art movie is in the house. https://youtu.be/SGJ4LnEDW2s

CREDO: A Pilgrim by Sylvia Toy – An Old Woman and A Singing Pilgrim (rehearsal, rough cut)

This is my first sketch of A Pilgrim singing on the sidewalk; and also my first sketch of The Old Woman who befriends A Pilgrim. I shot footage in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco for the backdrops of this scene. It will be interesting, I think, to explore how setting affects this story as it develops.

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.