BTS 10 - JANUARY

This is my first BTS update in 2018. The longer I put off doing one of these, the harder it becomes. After this I plan on going back to doing  weekly/bi-weekly updates. 

One "resolution" I made is to take more casual phone videos, which still have the feel of a home video rather than a professional videography. There's charm and sincerity to that, and having those videos to look back on in the future will be very valuable. So in this post I will feature some videos that capture some intimate and private moments of the first month of the new year.

PART ONE - NEW YEARS 

"Love - In my heart, in my mind, in my gut"

New Years is the one holiday that I absolutely have to come home for. I appreciate it as a yearly ritual - an opportunity to check in with family. Because the Soviet Union officially had no religion - New Years became THE holiday. In a lot of ways it's similar to Christmas: New Years Tree, Grandpa Frost (our Santa), gift giving, a feast - family. As children we would dress up in costumes - we haven't done it in many years, but maybe next year. Since I was coming home for New Years, Sequoyah and I organized another album release on Jan 7th in Brooklyn. He came up with me from Atlanta and was with my family and I through the Holidays. My friend Emily also joined us for NYE, which I'm very grateful for. My cousin got engaged, his fiance Maria was there. Overall a packed, and very festive new years. I got everyone my favorite books from the past year as presents, so I hope they resonate with everyone as well. (Books: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, Of Woman Born by Adrianne Rich, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin, The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee and Dreams, Memories, Reflections by Carl Jung.)" 

 

PART TWO - NYC DREAM SEQUENCE ALBUM RELEASE

Sequoyah and I put on the second iteration of our Dance Dream Tea Room (name still in the works). The week leading up to the show broke records in how cold it was. It was compounded with a bomb cyclone. Through the frigid conditions, Sequoyah and I spent stressing, laughing, shivering, indulging and exploring as we schemed the show. Ultimately the show gave me a huge high - my family, friends from middle school, high school, college and from Atlanta, were all there for a wild clashing of worlds. 

One of the best aspects of the show was that I finally shared some of my footage from Ukraine, during the INCREDIBLE opener, Natalie Moses + Monster Truck.  The reception of the footage has motivated me to finally start working on the installation work. 

PART THREE - TURN 25

"I have a lot of joy in my heart. Power in my muscles. Love in my veins. Thankful and Grateful for the opportunities life has and continues to offer me. Relationships are the most sacred bonds I can create and cultivate. My art helps in that journey." 

I'm officially in my mid-20s. At my current age, my parents had a 2 year old child. In another 2-3 years (perhaps at 27?, an important year I've been told) , I will enter a new stage in life where I will be the same age as my parents in my memories. I wonder what kind of psychological effect that has on people? I wonder if adults having children later and later in life, meaning that their children don't have memories of their parents their own age until later in life, effects their overall maturity. Or preparedness for parenting. I wonder if anyone has ever studied this phenomenon in any detail. 

In any case, I'm very excited for this year. Looking back I'm very happy with how many collaborations I was able to manifest. I have forged some really powerful bonds in the process, which I am carrying into my 25th year. Decisions compound and life becomes more and more interesting. This bring me to a new challenge that I'm very excited to tackle:

PART FOUR - SUNDAY MORNING AT SEVEN

This project has definitely been at the forefront of my mind. I was discussing the script with close friends before I left for NYC and was one of the last things my sister and I discussed while I was there. Their insight was really invaluable.

As soon as I got back to ATL, I jumped into the script and made a solid rewrite, which I shared with Anicka. She loved it. So now I'm fine-tuning it and am starting to reach out to people to build a crew as I also apply for grants and funding. 

As part of my process in developing this film, I've been watching films directed by women, starring strong female leads and/or about the erotic. Some of my favorites are: The Meetings of Anna by Claire Denis, Home by Ursula Meier, The Marriage of Maria Braun by Reiner Fassbinder, and the Piano Teacher by Michael Haneke. (Isabelle Huppert is an absolutely stunning actress).

I've also been watching a lot of dance shorts and this is one of my favorites:

 

PART FIVE - THE BAKERY/THE LIBRARY

While I was gone, The Bakery threw a very succseful NYE Masquerade Ball inspired by David Bowie's The Labyrinth. When I got back The Bakery hosted Power to the Polls AKA Womens March Year 2. It was the most number of people I have ever seen there, close to 3 thousand? It all went very smoothly thanks to everyone involved. Because I'm out of space on my Vimeo profile for the week, I'm linking a life Facebook video that I recorded during the event. 

The Library also officially opened while I was in NYC.

While you can learn in detail what The Library is about on the Patreon, here's a quick rundown:

It's a Co-Op (multi stake holder) organization (official legal status to be determined) that will be home to 4 main initiatives: Citizens Consumers United, Digital Sovereignty, Next Economy Alliance and the Seasonal Convergence.

Citizens Consumers United An association aimed at galvanizing the tremendous untapped purchasing power of individuals and communities. Through education and community accountability, we hope to change buying habits away from exploitative, extractive, monopolistic industries, and instead nourish ethical alternatives while forming a symbiotic relationship between producers and consumers. 

Next Economy Alliance An educational series providing a space for a variety of discussions and educational series centered on how to make a just transition to a more equitable and sustainable socio-economic system.

The Digital Sovereignty Collective A forum for diverse individuals from the tech, arts, wellness, food, civic and social justice spheres to converge and discuss how decentralized, p2p (peer-to-peer) tech can facilitate the emergence of bottom-up economic alternatives, enable sovereignty over our own data, and empower grassroots coordination for exchange and decision-making.

Finally there will be a quarterly Seasonal Convergence on the solstices and equinoxes. I co-founded this with Sophia with the first Winter Solstice end of 2017 and it was a great turn out of local creatives and activists that has already led to some really exciting collaborations. 

BONUS: IS TACO A SANDWICH 

Happy to be back home in 1254 with these fools. 

BTS WEEK 8

Friday November 17th Sequoyah and I premiered his album Dream Sequence and the "Blue Jays" film at Argha Noah. This week's post is a reflection on my experience collaborating with him so far. 

"I found a rare gem in Sequoyah as a Collaborator" - Journal Entry

PART ONE - BLUE JAYS TREATMENT

I first met Sequoyah at his tour kickoff at the Atlanta Contemporary. I thought I would miss his set and almost didn't leave the house, but took the chance. I had been listening to his music while filming practical effects for LIFE and was captivated. 

I got there just as he went on. His dad was on drums and his mom was the back up singer. He was even better live. I offered to do a music video with him and he sent me some demos. Blue Jays stood out. I developed an idea and shared it with him in Inman Park after a long conversation about our lives and loves. I created this treatment to prove the concept.

One of the biggest inspirations for the project was Kahlil Joseph. I first became familiar with Kahlil's work after attending a Liquid Blackness talk at GSU with him as a guest speaker. His work totally entranced me, and became a huge inspiration for the project. Some of the images used in the treatment come from his work on "Process" by Sampha,  and "Until the Quiet Comes" by Flying Lotus. 

Other images are sourced from: "Moonlight" by Barry Jenkins, Alexandre Moors & The Little Homies music video "i" for Kendrick Lamar, Grace Jones' performance footage, Maceo Frost's "Raised by Krump" documentary, "Shame" and "Voodo in my Blood" music videos for Young Fathers, and "Key and Peele" sketches

PART TWO

Another big inspiration on this project was Wong Kar Wai. Specifically his brilliant use of color and the step printing technique. (There's an cool video essay that explores ways in which Moonlight by Jenkins might have been influenced by Wong Kar Wai's work.)

This video is from a rehearsal at the Work Room. Sequoyah and Anicka had been praciticing his movement for several weeks and  I came to see how it translates to video, espesially at low shutter speeds/low frame rates.

 

PART THREE

Some photos that I snapped here and there during the development/filming/post process. I wish I had taken more, but when I'm doing a lot of jobs on a project, I can forget to pick up the camera. 

 

PART FOUR

These are some of my journal entries while I worked on the project. 



PART FIVE - DREAM SEQUENCE ALBUM PREMIERE

Months after the project was finished we premiered the album "Dream Sequence" and the music video at Argha Noah. We created a tea house with a dance floor. There was free tea, cocktails, vegan food and a warmth to the atmosphere that was really very unique.  Kofi, a magician friend, asked what my inspiration for the project was. I said that there were a lot of things and they changed and evolved throughout the filming process. So I said it was about "Ancestry".

During the process of putting this post together, and looking through my journal for entries, I came across an entry that didn't directly deal with the project. In fact I was writing about a woman I was seeing at the time. Yet, in its own way, it describes why I said "ancestry".

"What can I know of my ancestors

What kind of dreams did they have

What blood did they

pass through into my

veins

What world could they

imagine -

what beauty can be achieved when the blood of 2 people are mixed -

whose blood centuries ago

would never meet."