March 25, 2014
How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
From one of Miranda July’s performances, either at the Los Angeles Riot Grrrl Convention in 1995 (I was 17 and part of that RG chapter) or in 1997 at Dumba in Brooklyn.
What interested you about the project?
Joanie 4 Jackie created a network that could be both wide-reaching and intimate for a demographic often ignored: females interested in making and seeing movies outside of mainstream conventions. The open call nature leveled the playing field and the chainletter format added an element of unpredictability for both participants and viewers. There wasn’t anything like it at the time.
At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I was a college student and considered myself an artist who dabbled in filmmaking, and I ran a weekly screening series of independent and experimental media at Pratt Institute. Much of my programming supported artists who were young, female, queer, of color, and/or emerging. I set up two events with Miranda July and Big Miss Moviola in New York, in November 1998 and March 2000.
Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
I finished working on the Some Kind of Loving tape and poster a few weeks after graduating from college, working on borrowed computers in short-term sublets. Looking back on that time, I really appreciate how Miranda trusted and encouraged me to curate the tape as I wished. The video duplication company stopped production on the tape when they realized it contained sexual imagery, and Miranda just switched companies rather than asking me or the artists to make changes or compromise our visions. It wasn’t even a question for her – she simply found another option to make it happen and moved quickly.
Miranda asked for photos of myself and the artists, to use in the poster and on the J4J website. I’d never done a photoshoot before. My friend Nell and I bought disposable cameras from a pharmacy and snuck into the natural history museum in Albany, NY. We were kicked out after being caught climbing around the dioramas, but not before Nell took the photo with the taxidermied wildcats behind me, which appears on the tape’s poster insert.
What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
It was a really unique way to build a community. I love the intention and what came out of it. Many people involved with J4J have continued to work in film, art, and advocacy for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. I’m so glad that more people will be able to access Joanie 4 Jackie through these archives.
I briefly travelled with curated film programs before Miranda’s and my J4J / Some Kind of Loving tour together in 2000. And afterwards, I toured frequently for several years, helping to distribute and promote works not widely available and to strengthen an international community of microcinemas and alternative art spaces. This was all before YouTube, Vimeo, and fast internet – when access to these voices and visions was dependent upon someone physically bringing the work to different cities, sometimes with a suitcase full of film reels and video tapes.
If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
The first J4J screening I went to was at Dumba in Brooklyn (1997), and the movie made on the spot by attendees was such an unexpected way to incorporate the audience into what they were seeing on the screen, to turn passive watchers into active makers, and a great way to build excitement throughout the evening. The prompt was something like, “Nobody knows that I can…”, and anyone could privately videotape themselves responding to it in a separate space from the screening room.
In 2000 Miranda and I toured the West Coast with selections from the Some Kind of Loving Co-Star Tape and her performance in progress, The Swan Tool. It was the first time I had toured with other people and my first time visiting many of those places. I remember having stage fright when I got on stage and saw hundreds of people looking back at me, waiting for me to speak, at the grand, balconied Capitol Theater in Olympia.
What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Performance-based video art, avant-garde cinema, Fluxus, Conceptual Art, Riot Grrrl, Queercore, Andrea Grover and Aurora Picture Show, Ed Halter and the New York Underground Film Festival, Scott Miller Berry and Dumba, M.M. Serra and the Film-makers’ Cooperative, Robert Beck Memorial Cinema, Ocularis, Anthology Film Archives, all the filmmakers in the Some Kind of Loving tape, artists like Valie Export, Adrian Piper, Mike Kelley, Kirsten Stoltmann, Julie Murray, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Takahiko Iimura and Sadie Benning, and friends Koen Holtkamp, Nell Brady and Jennifer Sullivan.
What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I’ve curated for art spaces and festivals, producing exhibitions, projects, events, and publications. I’m now working as an artist and independent curator. It’s not dissimilar to what I was doing with the screening series in college and with Some Kind of Loving – expanding notions of art and culture, exploring ideas, supporting artists and politics I feel passionate about, showcasing unique and underrepresented perspectives, and bringing different groups of people together.
Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Looks like you already have everything on the site. Maybe a list of past screenings, and a list of filmmakers?