Think Frankenstein except Ann and I like our new creature.
Ann Filmer directing (left) Kristin Reeves "Karaoke for Prosperity: Video Haiku" at 16th St. Theater 12/07 (right)
I’m currently working on my 4th collaboration with Ann Filmer, Tony Fitzpatrick’s Stations Lost opening 7/7/2011 at Steppenwolf's Garage Theater. I keep coming back to work with Ann and her theater because they give me an architecture to nest my time-based pieces within that supports an expanded form of theater and cinema while maintaining its relevance to the real world around it. We both share an interest in telling stories involving real people and places as well as the craft to transform these bodies into the virtual material of theater and experimental cinema. I’m interested in working between the thresholds of these two forms to create something new. When I’m collaborating with Ann, I know together we will make a whole show that will perform on its own in ways we never imagined separately would be possible. This is an exciting place to work.
I fell into the opportunity to work in a theater setting and saw it as a solution to a couple of problems I was having with my practice. Before theater space was an option to work in, I had been producing video installations to explore how bodies move through virtual and physical thresholds. Applying time-based pieces to a gallery setting was limiting to me because it lacked the structure that would allow the audience to experience a fixed duration. When I arrange images through time I prefer to think of this choreography as a form of writing. If someone walks into the middle of a paragraph they might not get the point. This was problem one.
"The Scarlet Ibis" Written By Susan Hahn, Directed by Ann Filmer, Video Kristin Reeves, Pictured Kathleen Powers
Problem two comes from the desire to pull the space of the moving image apart. I want the performer and audience member to breath the same air, be immersed into the same world, and brought together as a whole through a shared container of time, space, and narrative. I think of the stage as a type of corporeal body Frankensteined together by all of her collaborators. The moving image becomes an extension of that body. I’m interested how these parts are transformed by each other and how physical material passes between the virtual thresholds of cinema and theater.
My understanding of space as a type of body is the result of my initial motivation to start making art, a need to unpack my history as a medical research subject. I grew up embodying the confusing dual role of patient and specimen. Art was a way to unify these parts of myself as well as understand the clinicians, drugs, procedures, and prosthetics that had become a part of my expanded form. I had to identify the thresholds between those bodies and my own personal structure. This was an act of parsing out the clinical and intimate touch both real and immaterial so I could direct the performance of my whole self.
"This Train" By and Starring Tony Fitzpatrick, Directed by Ann Filmer, Video by Kristin Reeves
As a result of this personal investigation, I began to understand the separation and distribution of many types of corporeal bodies in various spaces. I felt the utility of myself as a resource for others, which was distributed through time and space depending on the needs of a greater whole. Today my utility as artist can be applied to the greater whole of the increased pediatric research population I represent or to a group of artists who want to put on a play with their voice. Because my motivations to work with these forms have come from such an intimate and confusing place, I enjoy the break from myself by working with other people’s histories, politics, and poetry. This way I can focus on moving the form forward instead of sorting out my life and politics. Overall, problem two is a complicated riddle that keeps me busy.
When I was asked to join the emerging theater company Blackbird Productions as their resident multi-media artist in 2004, I thought that this would be the perfect place to start attacking these temporal problems. In this new role I was able to expand the physical threshold of the stage and the written threshold of the script with my image-based subtext. The bodies of the performers could pass between both of these spaces and transform magically from the physical to the ephemeral world and back again. For the transformation to be believable the audience must not loose their suspension of disbelief we had agreed to provide. All the parts of the body needed to work together as a whole self that could move forward on its own. Ann Filmer agrees, and together we get to build a new form of performance space to contribute to world around us.
"The Scarlet Ibis" Written By Susan Hahn, Directed by Ann Filmer, Video Kristin Reeves, Pictured Amy Dunlap
"Fires In the Mirror" Written ByAnna Deavere Smith, Directed by Ann Filmer, Video Kristin Reeves, Pictured Caroline Rau