I'm leaving tomorrow, after seven weeks here at the Rensing Center. Although that sounds long, inevitably the end has snuck up on me before I am ready. I've been having so much fun with the work I've started in the last week that I wish I could stay longer!
|Still from a video - potential source material... for something.|
I spent the first month of my residency primarily making an animation for a show in Chicago, where I had to go for a week to install and attend the opening, and after getting back here I had just 10 days to spend on new work. I decided not to put too much pressure on myself, and allow myself time to read and relax, and experiment with ideas rather than trying to create a finished piece. I mentioned in a previous post that I'm interested in Appalachian murder ballads, which I have continued to listen to throughout my stay. I've been slowly forming a more concrete approach to the subject - the animation/installation project will be an exploration of my conflicted feelings towards the romanticizing of violence against women (in the case of most murder ballads, inflicted by a male lover). I am considering how poetry and lyricism can distort our understanding of cruelty. Reading Christina Hastie's thesis "This Murder Done": Misogyny, Femicide,and Modernity in 19th-Century Appalachian Murder Ballads (http://ht.ly/etbAE) has given me a more specific direction to follow and provided a context in which to unpack the ballads. Talking to fellow resident poet Anna Lena about old-time songs and ballad structures has also given me a lot to work with in formal terms (I’m also indebted to Anna Lena for her generous feedback on my writing for the previous animation project). But rather than follow a strictly narrative path, simply illustrating a story, I want to create more open-ended imagery that invokes the kind of romantic fear and lyrical violence encapsulated by those songs. A parallel study is the affective character of the natural landscape – for example how lush growth can breed feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia. I started doing some experiments with animating paper cutouts in the woods, which I am really excited about and will continue to pursue in future environments. I'm grateful for the reflective time at Rensing that inspired new ideas and processes, planting seeds for artwork that will bloom in the coming months.
One of my animation experiments in the woods. Apologies for poor quality - don't go fullscreen.
I’m really going to miss this place. The time and space alone to think and create has been incredibly valuable, as have the connections with the Rensing Center family and with fellow residents, from whom I learned a great deal (and shared some lovely walks and swims, and the all-important grocery store trips, since I was car-less). I certainly hope to be back one day!
|Fellow residents at a nearby swimming hole.|
- Ali Aschman