Welcome to the ninth installment of MFA|EDA’s 4th Friday Alumni 6Pack. Appropriately paradoxical, we are pleased to close out the shortest and grayest month with an expansive and radiant transmission from Anna Kipervaser of the Class of 2015.
may the road rise to meet you
may you always see in the dark
may your heart always be full and your plate empty.
///what magic it is to follow a partner in crime///
Alex Cunningham isn’t only my Lightship 103 co-captain, but is also one of the 4 founding members of a new DIY artist run film lab in Durham, Yellow Lab, comprised of Evan Morgan, Harlan Campbell, Alex Cunningham and myself. It’s the best! And, while I’m always thinking about the lab, the people in it, the creative relationships that have built friendships, and now a magical coming together that is [nearly] a business venture, these days I’m also thinking about our bravery and about our trust for each other and in the world, about protecting the various manifestations of our relationships through time (we are and/or have been: friends, colleagues, members of the same cohort, clients, teachers, students, collaborators, road trip partners, collaborators) and not sleeping, about how this particular manifestation of collaboration/collective/group effort could actually be the ideal!
As I think about the ideal version of with whom (to work) and what (to do), I’m currently sitting on an airplane flying back to Durham from a job interview ////don’t worry, Yellow Lab will continue to operate no matter where each of the members are located geographically…. and it might grow!///// Strange to imagine a world that isn’t the world I’m in. Strange to imagine starting over. Strange to imagine missing people. Missing more people than I already miss. Missing the University, the students, the colleagues, the landscape.
Maybe I’ll try not to think about that for the moment.
The flight attendant just made the initial announcement after boarding completed, and she introduced herself as Anna and said that the captain was named Alex. So I guess there’s that answer. A reassurance in the form of a symbol.
Invisible, indivisible Spirit,
how is it you come so near,
how is it that we dare
approach the high-altar?
we crossed the charred portico,
passed through a frame–doorless–
entered a shrine ; like a ghost,
we entered a house through a wall ;
then, still not knowing
whether (like the wall)
we were there or not-there,
we saw the tree flowering ;
it was an ordinary tree
in an old garden-square.
The writing above is not mine, or at least not mine alone, it is H.D.’s and her’s alone, but also mine, and yours; it is too a symbol in the form of a reassurance, perhaps the order of the words exists to confuse you or me, or, it is clearest. Perhaps I’m thinking about Bob Dylan too. And a certain correlation, that can only be seen in the dark.
Life continues to get more and more magical. Yes, things are fucked in this world and we see more and more of that every day, but when has that not been the case? This is not to say that it’s time to give up or to not care, but this, perhaps, is to say that I am learning how much responsibility I have for the meaning I make of this life, of my world. And how I choose what is important and can be important.
In the last year filmmaking taken on a new component, or several (and perhaps impacted by, even if not consciously, by Honoré or was it Jacques), but all centered around the one central thing. A few of the materializations are: I’ve started collaborating with Evan Morgan on a new project which brought us to Bermuda; went to the Film Labs meeting in Mexico City where friends from Toronto, Oakland, and Durham all shared a house; spent a few weeks in Toronto researching Atom Egoyan at TIFF and spending time with friends in Toronto & Montreal where I showed some of my work (thanks EB!) and got to see EB Landesberg, Brian Virostek, and Jeremy Johnson; met up with Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie (they were traveling from Australia) in the mountains of Virginia for 20 hours (!); will soon show work alongside Alex Cunningham, Laurids Andersen Sonne, and Erin Espelie at Berea College where Lexi Bass is (thank you Lexi!), and we are all traveling to Berea to see Lexi (!) to be together. be together.
……And so I have faith……
….and, I’ve started a new practice. It’s strange, I know, because it’s as if making movies, traveling, teaching, and starting Yellow Lab aren’t keeping me busy enough! But, just like entering the world of cinema, this was something that just happened to/for me. A new friend asked me to go with her to a Yoga class and I said no. She asked if I needed to borrow pants. I said no. She said we leave in 5 minutes. I said no…. And now, I practice Yoga. I practice Yoga and I’m writing about that ahead of the fact that my feature documentary film is now being widely distributed, as of 10 days ago. A shift in the things, or the order of things, I’m thinking about. A shift in breathing, in reacting, in creating. And some of that is, of course, thanks to Yoga, though a constellation of other moments have led to said shift.
I also, finally, at the age of 36, became an adult. Now, I’m 37.
After all these years on this earth and all the hype, I decided it was time to have a “birthday weekend.” My 37th birthday, I celebrated by flying to Tampa for 22 hours to go to FLEX Fest to be with friends and colleagues and see some of their work (even got to go to the beach for an hour), by flying back to Durham in time for the Peter Murphy and David J concert I went to with a few dear friends, …and then on the day of my birth I screened my feature doc, Cairo in One Breath at the Nasher Museum of Art as part of the Across County Lines Exhibition, and rounded it off by drinking and eating with several close friends after. I am still an adult. It didn’t reverse itself when 36 expired. And then, the next day, Cairo in One Breath became available on iTunes and Amazon. That day, the day after my birthday, is the birthday of the mentor Alex mentioned last month (also my mentor) (also a dear friend). The release of the film on that day is something I did in honor of him, but I haven’t told him, and maybe I won’t; he knows even if he doesn’t hear the specifics, even if we only get to see each other once or twice a year. I guess what I’m saying with this, with everything here in this six pack is that it all matters, that it’s all precious, and can be exceptionally beautiful and special, that life can be moving and meaningful, if we let it; that the people we love know that we love them, and their love for us helps us, helps them, helps each other, be better. better. Oh.
Nadia Stevens (’18)
See you then.