I am so happy that the new online museum, Onlineum, is featuring my performance art movie VOICE through November 23, 2017. ‘A bipolar woman’s psychoses begin touring outer space …’ @ http://www.onlineum.com/exhibitions/
I have been quite grateful for all the artworld rejections I’ve ever gotten for the past week.
On November 1, I got an email saying: “We really like your work. We were wondering if we may suggest screening AND SO I SAID piece, we think it would go better with the overall flow of our program.” I submitted KILLER JANE, which is 13 minutes, to this festival – the other movie is 5-1/2 minutes.
If you participate in the art world in more than one medium long enough, you will find yourself in the same sort of situation in more than one medium. I can recall exactly how upset I was the first time I submitted two sculptures to a competition and my favorite was passed over while the other won me a prize. That experience did not make any less awful the night my scene partner and I gave a staged reading of my first two-person monologue and right afterwards the artistic director of the venue said to the audience: “I think this should be a solo performance and (pointing out another actress who was in the audience) [she] should do it.” They had to scrape me off the floor that night.
And then there’s the more than once of we-love-your-work-but-we-haven’t-made-our-final-decision-yet; and you wind up not getting selected. It takes years and years and years of rejections to recognize semi-finalist or honorable mention as currency.
So with all the rejections, disappointments and in my face ego battering under my belt, I laughed and told myself: “Don’t get too excited about maybe getting into this festival – you know the drill.”
I was going to write an essay about it however it turned out. I have been trying to get into art venues in Montreal for 20 years in three of my mediums. And I wish I could be there when Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival screens AND SO I SAID.
The central character of Credo: A Pilgrim is A Pilgrim, who is known to the people who know him only as The Amateur Baritone. The Baritone travels only with a few possessions, the most precious of which is an invisible box containing religious items (a rosary; a Bible; the Philokalia; a small statue of Buddha; and three talking bobble heads who are his religious advisors – a retired abbess, a Catholic priest and a Baptist preacher. He ekes out a living doing odd jobs and singing spirituals for change. The other major characters include A Churchlady, a grandmotherly, well-intentioned type who after hiring him as a gardner now cleans his clothes, feeds him and – convinced he is gay – tries to turn him straight, including introducing him to a Yoga instructor, even though she thinks Yoga is heathen and that her Yoga friend is a slut. A Churchlady’s house is his most frequent stop in his travels. The Yoga Instructor is the sixth major character; rather than try to seduce him, she is trying to teach him “soul,” a quality of which his spiritual singing is sorely lacking.
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.
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.
I wound up selling streaming video because I don’t have the disposition to wait to see what someone else “can or will do for me” – partly from nature, partly from experience. I had already learned what happens when your sculpture is selling – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got better work in you or just want to experiment. I already knew what happens when you are a black performer with a play about the Civil Rights Movement – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got a lot of other stories in you.
When I started entering film festivals, I expected to be treated like a business person. For the most part, that did not happen – in my opinion, filmmakers are treated like beggars in much the same way studio artists and small theatre artists are. Artists, who very possibly were progenitors of entrepreneurship as creator-purveyors of magical images and gods, are now expected to be supplicants who have to wait to see what someone else “can/will do for me.”
When I began to think like the former theater producer that I was for 20 years, I realized that not all film festival organizers are organized enough to be businesslike or businesslike enough to be organized. People who start film festivals likely are motivated by frustration with The Business/wanting to take charge of their own career paths; or motivated by the intense passion of wannabes; or sometimes by a bit of both.
I am not sorry for my tantrums about lack of communication from so many festivals (poor communication may be understandable, logistically speaking given manpower issues but not excused). I have seen so many art and theatre projects NOT happen over the years because available manpower did not match the size or structure of a project. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
However, I am sorry, considering how many shows I arranged without even being in the same town as the venue back in the days of dialup, for not putting myself in the shoes of festival organizers, who are only human and probably most of them not obsessed overachievers who don’t sleep.
Amazon changed its online video business a few months ago to aggressively sell streaming minutes rather than individual rentals and purchases. What can I say – most of the people on this playground know that art sells by the piece. Duh. I am not being paid by the piece by Amazon. It’s not about much money. But the content is mine. I would rather give it away.
What the hell – it is about time for my tantrum / protest / action / installation on Amazon to end, anyway. I am taking most if not all of my videos off the streaming market and making them available on signed DVDs – by the piece.
THE SPINSTER, final version, will soon be available on signed DVDs on Etsy. THE SPINSTER is a performance art movie about an office worker who lives to draw in the classical style. She is obsessed with the Mannerist painter, Jacopo Pontormo. ‘Pontormo’s Diary’ is the only thing she has on her IPod. She lives alone with art supplies and rolls and rolls of paper. She mostly eats eggs & salad, just like her spiritual mentor, Pontormo.
“Sylvia Toy St. Louis is a true artist, struggling the same struggle every artist has fought. I’m right there with her. Her characterizations are true to heart and she fills the screen with words that hone toward the truth that she finally reveals.” Review by Tess Collins Ph.D.