January 29, 2017
How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
It was 1998 or 1999? I was 37, living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in an apartment building of west coast artists and writers. Jonathan Lethem lived upstairs. Miranda July blew through town and stayed at his apartment. I think she was making arrangements for a piece she was constructing for the performance space, the Kitchen in Chelsea. We all gathered for a visit. Actually, we were constantly in and out of each others apts anyway. We got talking and she showed her film about observing the observed. I showed her “The Source”…I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours type thing… There was so much great short work being passed around like ‘zines or mix tapes …they WERE mix tapes! I loved Miranda’s idea of a subscription of movies and signed up immediately and she graciously added George Corzine and my movie to the mix. Absolutely thrilled to be in the company of so many HERoes !!
What interested you about the project?
The passing of ideas. Miranda provided a stream where we all got to float along and see what others were thinking and doing and making work about. This stream of images and content easily became a through-line for an ongoing conversation. This low-tech curated form felt so magical and happy. This was a babbly brook full of so many viewpoints of WOMEN! So powerful and chewy and something I needed to put in my treasure chest to help me keep going. I later subscribed to WHOLPHIN which was put out by McSweeney’s but the flavor with WHOLPHIN quickly became more and more polished and male. I missed the FEMALE freshness, rawness and POWER of WOMEN that pumped through Big Miss Moviola and The Velvet Chainletter. I miss that palpable heart and I am so amazed, relieved and glad that it has be resuscitated for us now just when we need it MOST. Thank you SO MUCH ! We can all weep with joy, pump our fists and get back to work. Thank you ! Thank YOU!!
At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
When I first landed in SF, after graduating from college, I felt it my duty to get a good understanding of filmmaking and its history, attending tons of historic and underground movies at the Red Vic and the Roxy, but all the while, painting. In 1989, I got an MFA from UC Davis. But even before I started the program, I was disenchanted with pure painting. I started adding lights and slides to be projected on my paintings. While in school, I shot and projected non-linear super 8 footage of all kinds of lights onto paintings and sculptural work. I liked the ephemeral nature of film in relation to the practice of making objects. When I returned to SF, I made a series of performative work involving food. Art work that would be ingested or would disintegrate. Filmmaking was allusive and expensive. I teamed up with George Corzine, who was a filmmaker with all kinds of equipment, films made and lots of energy. We decided to embark on “The Source” as a love letter between women and the ocean through a kitchen sink of multiple medias combining interviews, and film collages of imagery, visceral approaches including painterly animations by Barbara Pollak-Lewis. We also pulled into our movie, the theories of anthropologist, Elaine Morgan. We embraced her view on evolution. She touted that humans first started walking as a result of women running into the ocean with their babies to escape threats on land. We wanted to create this ethereal yet completely grounded evolutionary connection of women and the water to be experienced on film as the medium of choice.
Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
Our movie was birthed out of a love of the ocean, boogie boarding and the hope of seeing many women surfers in the movie “Endless Summer 2”. When this movie came out, George and I were anticipating lots of surfer porn of seeing women surfers but it wasn’t like that. We had given the director a hall pass for Endless Summer because it was the early sixties…but to still only have ONE woman surfer in 1994. This was unconscionable. Lisa Anderson was the pre-eminent woman surfer and she was the first woman to be surfing on the cover of Surfer magazine in 1994…“Lisa Anderson Surfs Better Than You.” Asking for movie clips of women surfers (there were precious few..in 1994..because it didn’t pay to shoot the women at that time..) and being questioned as to whether the footage would portray men in an unfavorable light..really? UGH!
Interviewing a female chief engineer on top of the parking garage at the SFO airport where she was in charge of a huge construction crew pouring cement in the background on a wet winter day, with cat calls from the crew. Interviewing a stripper at The Lusty Lady, a women owned, worker run cooperative club who was also a doctoral student of English Lit, very articulate surfer. Receiving permission to use the music of Phranc !! who had composed a piece of music about surfing! from the GoofyFoot album.
What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
At the time and in retrospect, the Joanie 4 Jackie series provided a fluffy soft cloud to buoy hopes and expectations that these films would be seen and that these artists would get recognition and join the larger conversation of making work that is seen by larger audiences in the hallowed museums and galleries…that this series would be a stepping stone. Perhaps it was for some but wouldn’t it be nice to see some of this freshness in the larger spaces at the time. What does it take? Nice that the Getty is coming forward now.
What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Frameline (distributor of LGBTQ films) and the Annual Frameline Festival…that was always a target date to shoot for. ATA – Artists’ Television Access…David Carson Design…X files..Bruce Connor’s filmmaking style..Craig Baldwin’s filmmaking style…Nancy Rubin, Chris Burden, Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless, Jacques Tati’s “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday,” documentary filmmakers at the time were more straightforward, we wanted to mix modalities like crazy.
What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
For money, I am an instructional designer. I work at a community college in the Hudson Valley. I am a midwife to people who are figuring out how to create activities, and curriculum that provides ways for people to engage with projects that help them understand content. I have also been connecting students and faculty locally to students and faculty through COIL collaborative online international Learning currently in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands and Scotland. It feels like I am making art but instead of using paper, pens or film I am facilitating connections of students and professors with web tools like Pixton, google docs and facebook, tools for them to create work together, taking ownership together of a creative process. I also write and create performative events on topics. This past November 1, with a group of women, we organized a Day of the Dead event to honor and mourn and raise money for local hospice.
I am also a retired Hudson Valley BRAWL personality Women’s Arm Wrestling champion. My moniker was the Pilgrim. (My family used to dress in Pilgrim costumes at Thanksgiving. I have 20 costumes in the attic.) I think the Pilgrim will soon be dusted off and come back to speak to the people. I think we need her right now. I will make a youtube playlist of her to share, so yes to filmmaking. It has just been for me lately in tiny clips for movable wallpaper type gazing but its time for the Pilgrim to start talking on film/youtube.
Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Perhaps, some web based pop up events of showing and sharing about a particular set of shorts. People need to see what is happening with artists who aren’t the big name stars. It would be amazing if J4J resurrected this wonderful subscription model of sharing fledgling work and art making. Make the site a living and breathing place not just an archive of a wonderful, fertile time period.
People could pay a subscription fee and artists/filmmakers could pay a fee to submit their work. I think of Miranda as trying to be egalitarian. This would be a wonderfully empowering opportunity moving forward.