BTS 11 - FEBRUARY

PART ONE - UKRAINE

In the past month I've assembled a 45 min edit from the footage I shot on my grandmothers farm. I have enough footage to make it into my first feature length film. However, as I cut it, I keep wishing I shot things differently. As the film stands right now, its mostly all cut from footage shot on a single day, really a single morning of my grandmother's 70th birthday. After the morning, the footage becomes a lot more sparse, with practically nothing from the evening. I'm conflicted about the quality of the film, of the footage, and my approach to it. If this is going to be my first feature film, I would really like to do something more polished. Yet, I also like the rawness of this film. I didn't know how I would be cutting this film. I didn't know what kind of film I would be making. By the time I was leaving Ukraine, up until I started going through the footage, I thought this would be a multichannel installation. However, it has emerged as a long form documentary film. 

It's been a really interesting process, especially paired with my work with Sunday Morning at Seven. I've watched several Chantal Akerman films in the past month, which have informed how I think about space and time within a frame. Constantly I find myself wishing that I didn't move the camera, that I just let it soak in all the detail of my grandmother's home, her farm, her space and time. 

I'm considering a fundraiser screening this film once it's "done" as a first iteration, and using the money I might make off the ticket sales and prints to go back to Ukraine this summer to do a fresh take on the film. Maybe it'll be a whole new film, maybe I'll interconnect the footage between the years. Maybe it'll become a ritual, a pilgrimage. 

All I know is I want an excuse to go back. 

 

PART TWO SUNDAY MORNING AT 7

My work on this project continues. I'm struggling to find enthusiastic commitment to this project from my filmmaker friends. It's a big film, and to ask anyone to work on it for free is a huge leap. I'd like to do a crowdfunding campaign, and am comitted enough to it to put my own money into it as well. (Hoping crypto does well in the coming months). 

Here's a draft of the script:

And some photos from the lovely SIP+SUPPORT:

PART THREE - ZAMI

Anicka came to my birthday bonfire when I got back from NYC, and got me a book as a birthday present. 

"Zami. A New Spelling of My Name" by Audre Lorde. 

The book is the only one I finished in February, and it's a beautiful and wild read about the loves and struggles of a young Audre Lorde. One of the reasons this post is coming so late, is that I wanted to do a review of the book, but I have a hard time articulating anything intelligent about it. She just writes so so beautifully about the love life, about the passion and about the pain. It really cultivates a desire in me to fall deeply in love with someone. 

Her adventures, to Mexico, her survival in NYC with no money, her pereservernce in difficult and suffocating situations, give me such inspiration. And makes me want to demand more of myself. 

And this is true when I look at my grandmother work. There's a powerful perseverance. Survival. Motion.  

I think someone should make a film about Audre's life, based on this book. 

So here are some really powerful quotes from the book that I Starred or "Wowed"

" 'Just because you're strong doesn't mean you can let other people depend on you too much. It's not fair to them, because when you can't be what they want they're disappointed, and you feel bad.' " (153)
"It was here in the breathtaking dawns and quick hill-twilights of Cuernavaca that I learned it really is easier to be quiet in the woods. One morning I came down the hill toward the square at dawn to catch my ride to teh District. The birds suddenly cut loose all around me in the unberlievable sweet warm air. I had never heard anythign so beautiful and unexpected before. I felt shaken by the waves of song. For the first time in my life, I had an insight into what poetry could be. I could use words to recreate that feeling, rather than to create a dream, which was what so much of my writing had been" (p169) 
"in a paradoxical sense, once I accepted my position as different from the larger society as well as from any single sub-society - Black or gay - I felt I didn't have to try so hard. TO be accepted. To look femme. To be straight. To lok straight. To be proper. To look "nice" TO be liked. TO be loved. TO be approved. What I didn't realize was how much harder I had to try merely to stay alive, or rather, to stay human. How much stronger a person I became in that trying" (p181) 
"Muriel and I talked about love as a voluntary commitment, while we each struggled through the steps of an old dance, not consciously learned, but desperately followed. We had learned well in the kitchens of our mothers, both powerful women who did not let go easily. In those warm places of survival, love was another name for control, however openly given" (p214)
"I lost my sister, Gennie, to my silence and her pain and despair, to both our angers and to a world's cruelty that destroys its own young in passing - not even as a rebel gesture or sacrifice or hope for another living of the spriit, but out of not noticing or caring about the destruction. I have never been blind to that cruelty, which according to one definition of mental health, makes me mentally unhealthy" (252) 

PART FOUR - WORK HUSTLE 

Sooo for real, the reason I didn't make more posts this month is cuz I didn't do that much. The whole, gigs will come my way and I'll totally make enough money to pay my bills didn't pan out that well in January. And it didn't seem to improve in Feb either...

So I was feeling kinda stressed, thinking about my options, considering ways to not burn through my savings while I spent a fortune repairing my car. Waiting on people to hit me up. etc etc. Not having a job can be very stressful and time consuming when you don't know where your money is coming from! 

And then things are seeming to come thrruuuu. It looks like I'll have a contract with  WonderRoot, which, if it goes through as it seems that it will - will provide me with a pretty consistent income for several months. Not a ton, but enough to ease some of the stress I've had to deal with in February. I would also get the opportunity to meet some interesting people through the gig and hopefully expand my community in this city even further. 

Here's to hoping it all works out!!!

 

PART FIVE - LIBRARY

Being involved with this organization is cool - giving me a chance to slowly get more familiarized with "Solidarity Economy", "Next Economy", Coops, conscious consumerism, non-hierarchical decision making etc etc. I realize that ultimately everyone has certain skills, a certain awareness and if I can contribute with what I know how to do and like to do, I can feel ok with not being as skilled in other areas. 

I haven't done graphic design in a while, especially not for anyone other than myself. I was pretty happy with the logo I came up with - and it's definitely inspired by my father's process of drawing things out by hand and then translating it into a digital design. 

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.