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Film/Video, Structuring Strategies: A Modern Convenience (2012) and other work by Experimental Animator and CalArts faculty member Maureen Selwood

January 15, 2013
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 7:00pm

CalArts, Bijou Theater

FILM/VIDEO: Structuring Strategies presents A Modern Convenience (2012) and other work.

Animators like Maureen Selwood are constantly exploring the relationship between traditional concepts and techniques, and the 'modernity' of the form. This 'philosophic' approach can then be extended to teaching and alternative forms of exhibition, as well as validating the purpose of the art. - Paul Wells

Selwood's works seem to enrich the field of animation with shades and colors worthy of the end of the millennium's new wave of mass media: the taste for meticulous observation of female childhood and adolescence, conceived as a period of perceiving others, sweetly disquieting...as well as an elated and apparently naive use of pop culture's visual mythology.
- Mario Sesti

“It is so rare to see a really thoughtful, complex multi-screen environment ... made me feel good all day! Selwood got the perfect balance between the very real photographic space and the flat, vivid colors of the animation...and the score as well. But I think the best part was the interesting unpredictability of the way the imagery of the three screens relate to one another.” -Pat O’Neill

•   A MODERN CONVENIENCE 5 min. 39 sec. 2012
Images are embedded in a complete wash cycle performed in an obsolete wringer washing machine; having been moved inside the private, domestic sphere, laundry is now another factor of social  alienation.

•   AS YOU DESIRE ME 2009 9 min. 2009
I lived in Rome for a year and became inspired by the emotional qualities of the city that surrounded me. The Iraq War was declared and the city responded to this in powerful ways. After returning to Los Angeles, I created a three-channel event using surrealistic characters  in real settings as a way to address sorrow and catastrophe. One of the components of based on a poem by Charles Simic, Empire of  Dreams. (MS)

I loosely adapter Parade, an opera by Picasso, Cocteau and Satie. I then instilled a childhood memory to play with the circus and its constantly shifting moods. (MS)

•   DRAWING LESSONS 6 min. 2006
Sleepless nights become a catalyst for undertaking the exercise  “Upside Down Drawing” from Betty Edwards’s book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The female protagonist entertains a relationship with the voice on the audiotape included in the book…

•   HAIL MARY 4 min. 1998
A woman’s voice obsessively uses numbers every time she tells us something, using a set of rosary beads. This allows her to keep her memories alive and to give meaning to the traces left by her life.

•   ODALISQUE 12 min. 2009


•   MISTAKEN IDENTITY 28 min. 2001
Mistaken Identity revisits the forgotten characters and deserted landscapes of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955). Broken steps, shot under the ocean pier and the expressways, are re-photographed and then drawn over to produce a commentary on the artifice of cinema and memory.

"By moving eastward in the city of Los Angeles I became aware of the forgotten characters and the deserted landscapes from film noir," explains Maureen Selwood, an artist and CalArts faculty member whose multi-screen projection titled As You Desire Me is on view as part of the C.O.L.A. 2009 Exhibition at the Los Angeles Municipal Gallery. Selwood goes on to explain that she adopted a kind of "system" for looking at LA by reimagining particular noir characters superimposed over the city's environs. This in turn fed her C.O.L.A. project, which was initiated in Italy a couple of years ago while the artist was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Rather than working with noir characters, however, Selwood instead grappled with notions of dislocation, grief and loss, and created what she calls "time-based poems." The resulting project is indeed akin to poetry, in its piercing sadness that is at once palpable and ephemeral. How do these animated poems function?
Entering the gallery, you find three suspended scrims featuring projections of live action footage with animations layered over them. Each is titled. In I Am Measuring You, a weary dog roams through desolate streets, while in A Shoe Falls, abject grief and mourning cause women to weep where rivers flow through forlorn branches. In Empire of Dreams, on the third screen, Selwood references Charles Simic's poem of the same title, which includes the lines, "It's always evening/In an occupied country..." A fourth animation, very different in tone and style and titled Rules of the Universe, plays on a monitor in a separate room. While Selwood has described the fourth part as a depiction of Rome's resilience, the power of the project resides in the first room, as you stand at the nexus point of three images of loss, and a representation of time as that haunting gap between the cold and barren landscape, and the people who traverse it. We're present in the world only briefly, the piece shows us, searching, like the tired hound at dusk. While Selwood's themes may sound grim, the project achieves the iridescent voltage of great poetry, where words strung together produce a jolt. The show's up for two more weeks: don't miss the experience of As You Desire Me!
C.O.L.A. 2009 Exhibition

MAUREEN SELWOOD utilizes hand-drawn animation and live-action footage for films, installations, and performances. The role played by external devices in our lives and their totemic value often triggers Selwood’s process. Her work is inspired by a reflection on the nature of animation and drawing. In her most recent film, A Modern Convenience (2012), a machine becomes a substitute for intimacy against the backdrop of Niagara Falls and is designed to be accompanied by live performance. As You Desire Me (2009), the single-channel version of an installation inspired by her residence at the American Academy in Rome at the beginning of the Iraq War, confronts sorrow and catastrophe. How Much Better If Plymouth Rock Had Landed On The Pilgrims (2012), a hallucinogenic trip of the pilgrims’ trip across the Atlantic, is a mash up of animation techniques. In Hail Mary (1998) a centuries old prayer morphs into a humorous black and white memoir. The expressively rendered Drawing Lessons (2006) sublimates a meditation on drawing and nature. In Mistaken Identity (2001), Selwood creates an alluring deconstruction of the 1955 noir classic Kiss Me Deadly.

Flying Circus: An Imagined Memoir (1995), Pearls (1988), This Is Just To Say (1987), The Rug (1985) and Odalisque (1980) have won many international prizes and have been screened at Annecy International Animation Festival, New York Film Festival, Ottawa Animation Festival, Stuttgart FF, Anima Mundi, Hong Kong FF, USA FF, Ann Arbor, Black Maria, Northwest Film Center, Venice Biennale, ANIMAC (Spain) and many others in the US and abroad and on television. Her drawings have been exhibited at The Drawing Center (NYC), Track 16 Gallery (Los Angeles), Arteko (Spain) and others.  

Selwood has participated in international workshops working with artists and students and curating films, PACT Essen, Germany; Arteleku, Spain; Cilect, Mexico City: Korean National University of Arts, Korea; Jakarta Institute for the Arts, Indonesia; Matita Animation Festival, Italy and others.

Selwood has been a recipient of grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation (Los Angeles), C.O.L.A Individual Artists Fellowship (LA), the John Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, The Jerome Foundation, The American Film Institute and a visiting artist residency at the MacDowell Colony and ARTELUKU (Spain). She was the first animation artist to be awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. She makes her home in Los Angeles.

Last edited by cziemba on Jan 11, 2013
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