Welcome to the latest installment of MFA|EDA’s 4th Friday Alumni 6Pack. We are pleased to find respite from the summer heat with a cool dispatch by Natalie Minik from the inaugural Class of 2013.
After graduating from the MFAEDA, I received the Lewis Hine Fellowship, which was located in Boston, Massachusetts at the time. Except for a brief stint in Portland, Maine for the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in my early twenties, I had lived my entire life in the Southeast. As a Southerner, I’d grown accustomed to my days defaulting to a sort of long and languid pace where the sun was a consistent companion. If it went away, I was sure to see it in the near future. Here in the North, winter compresses time and the light is brief but spectacular. Light has always been my friend as a lens-based artist, but I never felt more gratitude for it than I do here in New England.
Ragályi Elemér: Szilveszter 1974
I am a member of the AgX Film Collective, a collective dedicated to analog and experimental approaches to film in Boston, and one of the most rewarding aspects of the group is getting a chance to see work I would otherwise not know. I recently saw this film, “Szilveszter”, a film shot on New Years Eve in 1974 by the Hungarian filmmaker, Ragályi Elemér, and to say it has stuck with me is an understatement. There is something photographic about Elemér’s approach that I respond to. There is an immediacy and intimacy to his engagement with his subjects. The sensation this film gives me reminds me of the first time I really looked at Walker Evans’ photographs.
Programming & Expanded Cinema
On Thursday, September 27th, 2018, I programmed the show, Mixed-Use: A Night of Expanded Cinema with the AgX Film Collective, for the Tufts Film and Media Studies program. Mixed-Use was a film and video experience by AgX Film Collective that engaged the architecture and natural elements on the rooftop of Tisch Library at Tufts University. As the city of Boston rapidly evolves, this immersive project explored our interactions with this changing landscape through image and sound.
I have grown increasingly excited about the potential of expanded cinema during my time here in Boston. It’s thrilling to think about how we as artist can engage moving image work beyond the traditional single channel experiences. There is so much potential to create immersive experiences through combining installation and film. I hope to continue working in this mode in my personal practice and through facilitating programs for other artist.
The work of Amar Kanwar
I think about this quote from Kenwar all the time.
“I’ve often been asked is this documentary, is this is art, are you an activist, are you a visual artist, are you a filmmaker. I think it’s just simpler to say that I am responding.”–Amar Kanwar
Micro curation and the act of sharing media.
I teach in the Film and Media Studies program at Tufts University and one of my favorite parts about the job is getting to curate media for students. It’s just straight up fun getting to share things you are interested in with a group of people. There’s a generative and generous quality to the process that I have loved since I was in my early teens. One of my biggest influences in life has been my friend Pete, who owned a used CD store when I met him. This was in the mid 2000s, before streaming, Netflix, and Youtube were the powerhouses they are today, and one of the first things he did for me was put a boat load of films, music and TV shows on a harddrive for me to experience. This act of friendship, of sharing things you love with the people in your life, was such an eye opening experience for me and it continues to influence me to this day.
I have started wanting to try to bring this energy into my life beyond the classroom. For the 2018 holiday season, I started a series I called Natalie’s Insta-Advent Calendar on my Instagram. This was a chance for me to share with my friends and family pieces of media that were in the spirit of the holidays. There is something about the hunting and gathering component to finding the perfect piece of media that I find to be a real rush. This advent project was comprised of one minute “gifts” for my followers, and I had a blast doing it.
I continue to come to the South to make work. In the summer of 2017, I spent part of my summer in South Carolina making a film. My piece, “Palmetto”, a landscape-driven single-channel video piece, considers the tourist community of Myrtle Beach. I am interested in how the region of the South still visually nods to a painful and shameful past, often by commodifying and celebrating it. Using Myrtle Beach as my subject, I created a work that considers how we cover up and glorify our scars at once, tracing the distortion of the region’s landscape and history to a place where painful recognition of reality and uncanny alienation from reality coexist in the same space.
This July, I’m heading to Crosstown Arts in Memphis, Tennessee, for their residency program. I’m hoping to continue to explore the themes of “Palmetto” in this region of the South and direct the gaze of my camera onto the Delta. I’m excited to spend 3-weeks exploring Memphis and seeing what I find near the Mississippi River.
Next up: Kristina Baker (’16)