I was recently accepted for a twelve week residency at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha Nebraska. The Bemis Center has been hailed as “one of the great treasures of its kind in the country” by Jane Alexander, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, and was recently recognized as one of the “Top 1 O residencies around the globe” by Artlnfo.
Bemis Center residences are fully funded but I am seeking additional financial assistance through FIT’s Faculty Development Grant to cover travel and some material expenses.
My residency at The Bemis Center will run from January 13th to April 8th, during which
lime I will create photographs and short videos from my deceased grandfather’s secretly
penned screenplay. Grandpa’s unrealized film Fool’s Paradise was discovered in my
Grandmother’s attic 35 years after his death. It is an absurd comedy depicting a motley
cast of characters negotiating the dark limbo space known as Fool’s Hotel. Fool’s
Hotel is inhabited by famous literary and film characters who represented creative
forces for my grandfather and who do not live life by rational means. I will play
the main character, Professor, who is the Chair of Logic and Philosophy at an unnamed
English university. He finds himself stranded in Fools Hotel and the film follows
his attempt to escape. During my residency I will make photographs and short videos
based on key moments in the film; building props, sets, and costumes. Using my skills
as an ex-actor, photographer, videographer, and artist,
I will begin bringing my grandfather’s piece to life. I never met my grandfather but this project will allow me to commune with him and realize generations of unrealized dreams.
This work will be the next step in my creative investigation examining the photographic event as the site of performance. The most recent of which was #wishingpelt, which began with a live event. Over the course of nine days, I stood motionless on a platform for a total of 80 hours. Visitors to the #wishingpelt were invited to whisper a wish in my ear, run their hands through my chest hair, and seal their wish with selfie tagged on lnstagram with #wishing pelt. Their wishes are forever private and their photos were immediately made public. The website www.wishingpelt.com and lnstagram’s #wishingpelt hashtag aggregate these photographs, creating an archive of the public’s experience. These intimate performances are sealed by photographic contracts and shared publically, fulfilling the demands of social media, while maintaining private moments of intimacy. Over 2500 individuals participated, documented in the photographs they uploaded to lnstagram. Afterwards, I received over 400 emails from visitors thanking me for making their wishes come true and for changing their lives. What at first seemed like a preposterous proposition was, instead, a dialectical and disarming way to produce intimacy within social media’s compulsory exposure.