The American West: Where the good life includes sustainable income, development of land use, the rise of a town, and the horror of its crash and burn.
I was traveling through DEATH VALLEY and its neighboring landscapes of the COSO MOUNTAIN RANGE, where drinkable water is bestowed to the inhabitants of SEARLES VALLEY from CHINA LAKE — a place where ancient Native Americans carved signs into the rocks along its stream bed to honor the spirits, when I found the company mining town of Trona California.
A sign on the edge of town relayed its history. Upon reading it, images flashed through my mind: GREED (a film directed by Eric Von Stroheim) based on the American novel, McTEAGUE; the myth of CAIN AND ABEL, and the presence of ZOMBIES, who symbolize the wasteful consumer(ism) of human life; who can only be killed by disabling their brain.
I turned these impressions into a feature film: FOOL’S GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROADTRIP IN AN ELECTION YEAR whose central theme of “home” belongs to the American dream that has now been overturned, even into global economic crisis.
What does it mean to be an artist-immigrant at a time when the world is on the verge of major change? NY(See) – [a pun substitutes the word “see” for the letter “C”] is Lili White’s first feature-length movie, made without a script, a storyboard, or an editing plan. Part home-movie, part city-symphony, NY(See) straddles the borders between autobiography and documentary movie-making, imparting the archetype of “the artist.” Eschewing the documentary film’s standard of opinion, NY(See) captures a zeitgeist that reflects what New York stands for: America’s cradle of immigration, the site of the 9/11 disaster, and platform of a genuine international city once considered the center of the art world.
NY(See) blends the space between immigrant artists Mara Wave, John Spinks and Kim Su Theiler, intersecting their artwork, New York cityscapes and White’s performative actions. Ms. White keys out her painted body using Chinese characters for “eye” and “to see”, to refer to poetry, the written language and to the act of writing itself; which, like manipulation of the Caranguejo, (a toy derived from the Anime-Crab, an original sculpture by Lygia Clark) conveys a sense of internalized experience.
NY(See) exploits chance happenings that occurred while filming. Its edit presents sections that center on shared topics of conversation, letting the viewer to draw the segments of the movie together for themselves. Topics of personal identity, artistic practice and issues of today’s global market are layered in an open-ended manner presenting each protagonist in an essentially un-polished manner.
Architectural marvels such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings contrast with bridge and street scenes. Places include: The Imagine Peace Memorial in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields; The Statue of Liberty; Ellis Island; Times Square, the World Trade Center disaster site; and Union Square decked with public shrines created in memory of that disaster. Public events include a race in Central Park, a Protest Parade against Nuclear Weapons, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center at the time of the Pope’s Funeral. Pubic art events include: William Kentridge’s film presentation in Central Park; THE GATES PROJECT by Christo and Jean-Claude, FLOATING ISLAND by Robert Smithson and Lili White’s sidewalk projection of her CLOUDGATE video.
Designed to be projected directly onto the metal and stone of a city’s architecture. CLOUDGATE premiered in the 2005 HOWL Festival, projected onto the sidewalk in front of the Phatory Gallery.A meditative happening, it brought the heavens down to the ground, placed its viewers firmly in between the earth and sky. Offering passersby an unexpected event placed into their environment, CLOUDGATE situated them into the “Zen of Now”, reminding them that they and Nature are part and parcel.