May 24, 2015
Memory// The Mother Self
|And so I have told you many of these stories of Pinel, they are the stories of my life, not just what it was like in school. I watched you go through the grades and every year, and at every difficult turn, wondered what it would have been like if you could have gone to Pinel and just been free to be you. Pinel was me, it was your Aunt and Uncle and your grandparents. You know her as Grandma – but there is a group of adults scattered in the world who knew her as Alice, some called her Mommy, some called her Master……all of them touched by her warmth and love and acceptance no matter what. I want you to remember who your grandmother was. Now you were there, too.|
Nostalgia//The Self Self
When I was 8 and you were 8, we went mud sliding at school, at Pinel, that day it poured rain, don’t you remember? And we went back to class and I stood, dripping wet, in front of the heater while you sat and watched that kid put chalk in the erasers so when our teacher, Alice came in the joke would be on her. And you felt uncomfortable. I felt confused. But wait, remember that time we –
This is too hard to lie about anymore. I’m writing this to tell you, that I am sorry. I never went to Pinel with you. That wasn’t me. And that wasn’t you. I think we need some time apart to gather what is real and what is memory and where I’m forcing myself to fit in because I want you to like me as much as I like you and all your friends. If you need me, I’ll be at Sybil’s house.
“Oh well”; it’s the most useful phrase in the English language, if I remember your voice correctly. I look at you in my head and wonder why this is your truth. I look at you in person and wonder what it’s like to realize you don’t remember anymore. I ask you questions in person and wonder if you will use “don’t remember” or “can’t remember” this time and either way I still want to know your story. And then I wonder if I’ll make it back this summer for my ice cream in your freezer. Is it still waiting for me?
“Clitorally”, a short film by Annie Ferguson, documents through interview about her own, as well as other women’s experiences, with the female orgasm. Set up in a classic documentary style, the viewer is successfully taken into Annie’s mind as a filmmaker, artist and woman, presented with questions that get one thinking about their own experience.
This work really resonates with making art out of a very genuine curiosity. It is clear that Annie is not making this film as an exploitation of the female orgasm, but rather as something she is strongly interested in hearing stories about, possibly looking for similarities with her own. Using different spaces for each interview, as well as giving space to show the interviewees as people outside of interview, we as viewers are given an easy flow to follow within such a large and seemingly heavy topic of female orgasm. I think a very important aspect of this flow is the fact that Annie herself is placed throughout; being interviewed the same questions as everyone else. Having the filmmaker interviewed within her own film makes it more clear that the idea of this film came from her own experience, which leads another curiosity as a viewer to why her experience is so important to her.
I feel that this work put together with Annie’s artist statement clearly shows intentions of this film to be an investigation in the form of interview itself put together with the subject of exploration of very personal experience. After watching this film through, I want more. I want more interviews and more stories from an array of different women. It seems like this project is only the beginning of something that could be even more powerful in the sense of femininity and different ways to reach a specific type of pleasure and strength. This falls into themes throughout the show and program of femininity, identity and documentary, among others. Also relating to themes within the program, I can find influence in this film from readings in Audre Lorde’s, Sister Outsider, in the chapter titled Poetry Is Not A Luxury. In the closing paragraph, Lorde writes, “For there are no new ideas. There are only ways of making them felt … while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while we taste new possibilities and strengths” (Lorde, 39). Annie’s intentions of showing the audience the relationships these women have/had with orgasm and with sex in relation to herself as a woman, a friend, an interviewer, a filmmaker, etc…are profound in this piece. Her presence and open-ness seems to comfort these women in a topic that could be uncomfortable to talk about, and brings out a strength to share it and feel empowered as a sexual being.
Although we all come from our own place and comfortability with the subject of female orgasm or any form of orgasm and sexual experience, this work creates an open space for the viewer to hone in on these women specifically and listen to their views, opinions and stories, while at the same time having the space to compare our own, whether similar or different.
May 12, 2015
May 7, 2015
When I was two or three, my mother made a large batch of apple pies. She took them down to where we had a freezer in the basement and set them all on the floor in a row so she could load them in and keep them for the year. I followed her into the basement and in my effort to get to her I stepped in each and every pie in the line to the freezer. I remember that happening – except I remember it in the wrong house. I can see it in my mind, I can see going through the basement door and the line of pies…..but I don’t really remember it, I just see it because I’ve heard the story so many times. But I remember it.
I have very few memories before Pinel was a part of me. Maybe I recall a room in our very first house, perhaps a babysitter….I remember the hospital when I was just 4 years old. But Pinel had already started by then. Pinel wasn’t a school for me, it was my life. Home and school blended into one place. Parents and teachers were the same people for me. I don’t know when I actually realized that we were different. We were all different – and that’s what made this thing called “Public School” seem exotic to me – everyone there looked the same. At Pinel we had had black, white and brown. At Public School in Walnut Creek they only had one color. At Pinel we had a girl who had suffered burns to her body, her scalp and arm disfigured, we had kids who were dyslexic before it was a common diagnosis, we had a couple of kids struggling with being gay, a few that that were already smart beyond their grade and age, we had introverts and extroverts, we had one girl who lived on a fishing boat in the Berkeley Marina and only attended school when it wasn’t fishing season,……we had all of these people and none of us stood out as being weird or different, we were all part of the Pinel community and for some that literally saved their life.
I was not quiet back then like I am now. It’s funny to hear stories of who I was before I became filtered.
And so I have told you many of these stories of Pinel, they are the stories of my life, not just what it was like in school. I watched you go through the grades and every year, and at every difficult turn, wondered what it would have been like if you could have gone to Pinel and just been free to be you. Pinel was me, it was your Aunt and Uncle and your grandparents. You know her as Grandma – but there is a group of adults scattered in the world who knew her as Alice, some called her Mommy, some called her Master……all of them touched by her warmth and love and acceptance no matter what. I want you to remember who your grandmother was. You were there too now.
(Misinterpretations vs. Misrepresentations) Please Don’t Get All Nostalgic On Me
Can you miss something that isn’t gone yet?
Can you miss something that never happened to you?
Can you miss the exact moment you are living through right now ?
Or is this feeling unrelated to what I am doing right now?
What am I doing right now, you ask? I am thinking.
Thinking about what, you ask? Thinking about the past.
Are you thinking about memories (you ask) ? I am. I am thinking about the times that are comforting to look back on but were not comforting to live through at that moment in time.
Are you nostalgic? (you ask)
Can you shut up, please? I don’t want to think about this anymore because I am getting nostalgic and it’s making me uncomfortable.
But wait, here I am again.
At the tail end of this chase between my brain, and myself which are separate beings.
What is it to be nostalgic? Can you feel nostalgic for something that never happened to you?
The definition on the Internet says that nostalgia is,
“a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life,
to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning
or the happiness of a former place or time.”
I believe this is not the true definition.
This is the definition given by the optimists of the world, the ones who think the word nostalgia is pretty.
The word nostalgia is tragic and scary and is not able to be defined.
The definition of nostalgia is :
“A longing for a time that felt right, which therefore, leads to a time that was and is not possible.”
Nostalgia is not an attainable reality because memory is supposedly the only reality we are allowed to pull from and call truth, which in turn we call reality.
Which in turn, is not real anymore because..wait… I can’t really remember.
What was the question again?
April 29, 2015
Instructional for “Stories My Mom Used to Tell Me”
Step by Step! (Day by day)
- Sit down, get comfortable.
- Listen to these people make up stories about their childhood.
- Watch as they struggle to grasp reality.
- Ponder the idea of memory.
- Tell me made up stories of your childhood and time in school.
April 16, 2015
Cindy Baker : “Context in Practice”
– Context as in centering in other peoples experiences.
– “How do other people fit into my work?”
Sister Spit: “Outsider Lit.” (est. 1997)
– Rad American Women A-Z
– Mica S
– Tom Cho
– Vergie Tovar
– Miriam Gurba
I was interested in one of the questions that came up in the Cindy Baker CCT.
Someone asked, in reference to Regina Gypsy, how she was able to call this art. What makes this project art instead of a cab helping people?
What is at risk when centering your own work around other people, the viewers?
When does it become their work over the artist’s?
Is this a completely different medium for art all together?
At what point or status can a piece of work be called “art”? Are we still confined to general standards of medium within the term of art to validate work as art?
April 16, 2015
My second semester of my second year at art school, I took Photo History II. I went into this semester completely alone, all of my previous friends at school disowned me because of a meltdown I had the semester before.
These two guys sat with me during class. We never became friends.
The class was in the lecture hall, the only lecture hall on campus.
My old roommate was in the class; her presence never failing to make me uncomfortable or angry, knowing she thought I was a worthless mess. This doesn’t bother me anymore. I have come to accept that she is a dramatically pathetic and ignorant human being.
One day during class, my teacher was rambling about something and rhetorically asked, “Who wants their work up in a gallery? Everybody, right?”
Everybody raised their hand in response for some reason.
I did not.
He pointed to me and playfully asked, “You don’t want your work in a gallery space?”
I said, “No.”
The room, and my teacher, were silent. He sort of just nodded and moved on to another topic.
Why couldn’t we have discussed further? Wasn’t this college? Wasn’t I allowed to have my own views and feel comfortable sharing them? Why didn’t he try to justify his opinion of how important a gallery space is in the art world? Why didn’t he know what to do when a student had a different thought than the ideas the entire institution was shoving down our throats?
After class, he pulled me aside and asked if he could see some of my work.
I told him I hadn’t made any all semester.
Seeing that I seemed stuck, he urged me make some prints and bring them in the next week.
After I brought in some prints, he asked me to write him a short paper on what I would plan to work on over the summer, if I wanted.
I then ran into him after a lecture during the last week of school. I was coming down the stairs from the rooftop, and I had just accepted that I was never coming back to this school for another semester. I felt good.
He stopped me and asked if he could keep in touch with me over the summer, be there to give me any feedback, suggest articles, …etc.
I never heard from him.
(Sidenote, he looked like the dad from the late 80’s show, Step by Step. The theme song played frequently in my head while I sat in his class.)
April 14, 2015
April 9, 2015
“ Is a story merely a memory of a memory?”
What is it
What is it
What is it
What is it
What is it
What is it
What is it
What is it
What is it?
My grandma can’t remember very many things about Pinel.
But all these people seem to remember everything there ever was to remember about it.
And now I remember Pinel, too.
But I never went there.
Remember that time she taught me how to play solitare?
April 2, 2015
Voice, what is it to have a voice?
“We [without autism] are the one’s who are autistic.” , because those voices defined the term?
Racism, women of color feminists voices vs. white feminists voices – why? How? What? is the difference – who has the voice to decide if there is a difference? Why does that voice exist?
Relevant to climate change topic – who has the voice to make a difference? Is the status of government the voice allowed? Why?
Wicked questions: where everyone was/is given the chance to share and contribute their voice to this global issue and each was important.
(for example) Liberty University, Virginia. Rep. presidential candidate Ted Cruz spoke. The school made the speech mandatory for all students, obviously disregarding their political or spiritual beliefs. Were they allowed a voice? If this candidate spoke about his support of the American Energy Renaissance Act, which increases offshore drilling and ensures building of the Keystone pipeline, and a student attempted to ask a question with a completely different view… what would happen? Would this student’s voice be silenced or passed over because it is not what the speak of the government supports? Were students even allowed to ask questions at this mandatory speech?
(This side story may be irrelevant, but could be useful in the topic of government voice hierarchy?)
Is equality only possible or attainable through voice? Only vocal voice? Who’s voice? What kind of difference is in vocal/verbal voice and voice through art? Since art is subjective, is it the only possible equalizer?
April 2, 2015
Explanatory: This is what it’s about…
This short documentary film is an exploration of “alternative” education. The project is based on Pinel, a school with grades elementary through eighth that was established in the 1960s Bay Area of California by my grandmother, Alice Kenney. I am using documentary film as a medium for this project to interview past students of Pinel and ask where the school was able to place them today, mentally and/or physically (geographically?). This project is in part a collaboration with my mother, who also attended the school why both my grandparents taught there; This project is also about that collaboration. Even further, I intend for this work to propose a sense of storytelling. It is about the way these stories of this one very specific place (Pinel) where something very broad (education) took place in a manner (alternative) not often seen then or now. This work projects the question, among others, : Why are these stories important to the fact that this type of school could not exist today?
February 19, 2015
I’ve felt stuck, so I took up Alexis’ idea of making a list/video of why I can’t do something.
On my same Vimeo account, there is a video I made using eggs as well (titled Eggz, https://vimeo.com/86667528 ) from about a year ago – I once again have gone back and looked at old work to come up with this new video.