Hi! James here.
Let’s start off with a little background on me so you can understand my project. I’m a fifth year, which means I was a senior last year and got de-railed by the change to semesters. I’m a sculpture major and I’m gearing up for my thesis exhibition at the end of next semester (it’s a big deal art show I have to finish to graduate). I’m supposed to be making art that develops my “Body” of work, which just means I need to stop floating around and start making works that all fall under a unified idea or theme. I’ve defined myself as a video artist (you may be thinking “Video’s not sculpture” and who knows, you may be right, but we’re all crazy and jumbled up over here in art world, so sculpture is where I ended up) and I tend to make feminist themed works about personal and human issues. Since I’m graduating soon I need to step up my game and technology is where I’m mostly lacking. That’s where Create Space comes in, they gave me a Panasonic AG camera and a tripod and I hit the ground running.
Making videos, for me, involves weeks of planning, scripting, procrastination, and self loathing, but the actual filming and editing (though tedious) only takes a few days. I did all my filming on Friday and edited the whole thing together on Saturday. Now I have a short video that fits nicely into my “Body” of work.
What the work is about: For the longest time I avoided feminism as a genre, because it seemed very radical and somewhat hateful (which some of it is, but mostly that’s just media and The Man having fun radicalizing and then discounting feminists). For years now people have been telling me my work is feminist, so I decided to embrace it and who knew, I love it here. Because of all these changes in opinion I’ve been struggling a lot with the ideas of feminism, how it’s viewed, what it really does, what people are saying about it, and who’s involved. This video is primarily about men as feminists, because I got a little (more like a lot) upset when a friend of mine implied that there can’t be male feminists; which, to me, seemed like implying that all men are misogynists and want to keep women on the bottom. This video debunks ideas that men can’t be feminist and ideas that all feminists are man haters (both of which are silly notions). I’m not saying all men are either misogynists or feminists (there’s got to be some stuff in the middle), but some men are feminists.
Inspiration: I was very influenced by traditional Japanese Noh Theater. There are often spirit characters in Noh that appear to be mortal (maybe they don’t even know they’re dead) and they undergo or facilitate for the main character an emotional journey. I made my mask in the vain of Noh masks to set up my character is a kind of spirit guide who’s teaching the world about feminism.
I was very influenced by Laurie Anderson (a musical artist/performer) who also used masks and voice altering to blur the gender of her character. I wanted to blur the gender lines of the speaker to make the video less about women talking about men or men talking about women and more just about people talking about stuff.
Here’s a link to the video on youtube: