Banker White Uses Film To Combat Disease

This has been a busy year for artist and filmmaker Banker White (2008 Film/Video). On September 8, PBS will air his documentary The Genius of Marian, a portrait of his family’s struggle to deal with his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. As he continues to work on his Creative Capital project, WeOwnTV—which helps young filmmakers in Freetown, Sierra Leone hone their craft—Banker has experienced firsthand a recent outbreak of the Ebola virus. We decided to check in with Banker to get his thoughts on his upcoming documentary, and what’s going on in Sierra Leone.

Alex Teplitzky: The Genius of Marian follows Pam White, your mother, as she begins to write a book about her own mother, Marian. A year after beginning the book, Pam is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and so the film picks up where Pam’s book may not be able to finish. As a filmmaker, do you see yourself as creating almost a prosthetic form of memory which empowers people to remember?

Banker White: Well, when I pressed record for the first time for this project that was absolutely the intention, but it was done for very personal reasons.  My mother’s book project was the point of departure, the deep desire to memorialize someone we love and to connect with the difficult and complex emotions that surround losing them.

I moved back to the Boston area in 2009 with my mother and father to help out just after her official diagnosis, and working on the book was our daily activity. We looked at old pictures, watched old movies, and talked about and relived many memories. I also learned a lot about my mother’s life that I never knew—mostly in the details.  I knew her folks were divorced while she was in high school, but never talked with her at length about it. Right after my mother’s diagnosis she was really paralyzed and depressed by the shame and she never talked about her own dementia, but this daily activity seemed to open her up. Talking with me and doing video diary entries became a kind of confessional for her. The project grew to be more about her own diagnosis and how it was affecting our family.

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Artist to Artist: Documentary Filmmakers Marshall Curry & Penny Lane

Penny Lane and Marshall Curry

Penny Lane and Marshall Curry

As part of our “Artist to Artist” interview series, Marshall Curry (2008 Film/Video) and Penny Lane (2012 Film/Video) connected over the phone to talk about their past and current documentary film projects. The following is an edited excerpt from their conversation. You can listen online to the full podcast, or subscribe through iTunes.

Penny: Hello! Where are you calling from, Marshall?

Marshall: My office in Park Slope.

Penny: Oh, you’re in Brooklyn. Neat!

Marshall: Where are you?

Penny: I’m in Waterville, NY, which is about five hours north and west of where you are right now. I moved to central New York this past summer for a teaching job. Continue reading

Laura Poitras Wins Pulitzer Prize and Polk Award for NSA Reporting

Laura Poitras. Photo by Sean Gallup for Home Front Communications.

Laura Poitras. Photo by Sean Gallup for Home Front Communications.

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (2008 Film/Video) has been honored with two major journalism awards for her reporting on National Security Association surveillance programs that whistle-blower Edward Snowden brought to light. The Washington Post and The Guardian each received the Pulitzer Prize for public service for “the revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency,” as reported by Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Barton Gellman and Ewan MacAskill. In the same week, the group of reporters also received the prestigious Polk Award for national security reporting.

In January 2013, Poitras was contacted by an anonymous source saying that he had sensitive documents related to NSA surveillance that he wanted to bring to light. In the months that followed, Poitras emailed with the source through an encrypted connection, eventually bringing Guardian reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill into the correspondence. In May 2013, Poitras, Greenwald and MacAskill flew to Hong Kong to meet the source, who turned out to be former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In early June, the reporters broke his story simultaneously in The Washington Post and The Guardian and released a video interview with Snowden, shot by Poitras, on YouTube. Continue reading

Jesse Sugarmann’s “We Build Excitement” Commemorates the Rise and Fall of the American Auto Industry

Jesse Sugarmann, Production still, "We Build Excitement (Pontiac, MI)," digital video, 2013

Jesse Sugarmann, Production still, “We Build Excitement (Pontiac, MI),” digital video, 2013

Jesse Sugarmann (2012 Film/Video) premieres his Creative Capital-supported project, We Build Excitement, with a solo exhibition at Southern Exposure, opening April 4, 2014. The exhibition presents a series of performances and videos examining the evolution of the American auto industry as a parallel to shifting American identity.

Two years ago, Sugarmann began opening unsanctioned Pontiac dealerships in decommissioned car dealership locations across the U.S. He activates these shuttered businesses as sites of celebration, honoring both the American auto-worker and our fraught, intimate relationships to cars themselves. Assembling temporary modernist monuments with Pontiac cars, Sugarmann gives form to the precarious nature of the auto industry. In video works, he documents laid-off assembly line workers and car accident victims recreating the movements of their former jobs and crashes, respectively. Their deadpan choreography forms a moving homage to the mundane and the traumatic moments in both the birth and death of the automobile.

I connected with Jesse to learn more about this ongoing body of work.

Jenny Gill: Talk to me about Pontiac. When did you start making work about the auto industry, and what is it about Pontiac specifically that you’re interested in?

Jesse Sugarmann: Cars have been of primary interest to me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in rural Connecticut, far away from pretty much everything. I felt really isolated there, almost trapped. So, as a kid, distance was always this enemy, something between me and what I wanted to get to. And cars, to me, were this obvious antidote to distance. I became fascinated with cars from an early age. And it stuck with me, this idea of cars as freeing objects, purveyors of mobility and autonomy. Continue reading

Cristina Ibarra’s “Las Marthas” Documents a Colonial Debutante Ball in Laredo, TX

A debutante emerges in Las Marthas (photo by Craig Marsden)

A debutante emerges in “Las Marthas” (photo by Craig Marsden)

Cristina Ibarra (2005 Film/Video) premieres her Creative Capital-supported documentary, Las Marthas, in San Antonio’s CineFestival with a screening at Guadalupe Theater on Tuesday, February 25 at 9:00pm. The film is the winner of the festival’s Special Jury Award. Las Marthas had its broadcast premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens on February 17 and is available to stream online through PBS Video until March 19. Other upcoming festival screenings include San Diego Latino Film Festival, Chicago Latino Film Festival and Ambulante California. Continue reading

The Creative Capital Award: What is the application process like?

2005 Visual Arts Awardee Pablo Helguera recording "Parallel Lives" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

2005 Visual Arts Awardee Pablo Helguera recording “Parallel Lives” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

What does applying to Creative Capital really mean? What do you have to do to make it happen?

Creative Capital is one of the only national nonprofit organizations that offers awards to individual artists through an open application process. This means that anyone can apply, as long as you meet our basic eligibility criteria.  In the past, Creative Capital has received 2,700 to 3,200 Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) in each award round. We work all year with arts professionals throughout the country to review your proposals before announcing the 46 funded projects.

On February 3rd, our application website will open to accept your LOI, with a submission deadline of February 28. The LOI is just a written proposal with no work samples. Once you fill out your contact information, education, professional accomplishments, and the name and email of one reference, you can begin to fill out your project proposal.

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Bill Morrison’s “Decasia” Added to National Film Registry


VIDEO: Trailer for Bill Morrison’s Decasia

We were thrilled to hear that Bill Morrison’s Creative Capital project Decasia was added to the U.S. Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in December 2013. An 80-minute film created from restored nitrate footage re-photographed onto 35mm, Decasia uses decaying reels from the early days of film to investigate the human desire to transcend the limitations of earthbound existence. The spectacular score for Decasia was composed by Bang On A Can co-founder Michael Gordon.

Morrison received the Creative Capital award for Decasia in 2001 and completed the film in 2002. Decasia has the distinction of being the most contemporary film yet accepted into the Registry, which is restricted to works that are at least 10 years old.

You can read more about Decasia and the other 2013 National Film Registry selections in The Washington Post.

Braden King & Matthew Moore Collaborate on “Cumulus” at Grand Central Art Center

Braden King and Matthew Moore, CUMULUS

Braden King and Matthew Moore, CUMULUS

This fall, Braden King (2005 Film/Video) and Matthew Moore (2008 Visual Arts) were in residence at Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana, CA, creating the multimedia installation Cumulus (on view through January 5, 2014). A massive, four-ton, 60-foot long sculpture and video installation that employs custom programming and projection mapping, Cumulus is a meditative reflection on the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

GCAC’s Director and Chief Curator, John Spiak, describes the installation: “Through the use of building materials, specifically used scaffolding planks, the artists have created a massive pipeline that emerges from one side of the gallery before quickly disappearing into the other. Projected upon it are moving images of atmosphere and landscape, traversing its surface as fluidly as water flows through the aqueduct itself.” Continue reading

Video: Jesse Sugarmann at the 2013 Artist Retreat

Jesse Sugarmann (2012 Film/Video) presented on his project We Build Excitement at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat. You can watch more artist presentations from the Retreat on our Vimeo channel.

On Friday, September 27, Jesse will present in the Creative Capital session, Art @ The Edge, at the IdeaFestival in Louisville.

Art at the Edge: Creative Capital Artists at IdeaFestival 2013

Clockwise from top left: Eric Dyer, Elaine Tin Nyo, Paul Rucker, Jesse Sugarmann

Clockwise from top left: Eric Dyer, Elaine Tin Nyo, Paul Rucker, Jesse Sugarmann

On Friday, September 27, Ruby Lerner presents at the IdeaFestival in Louisville with four amazing Creative Capital grantees: Eric Dyer (2012 Film/Video), Paul Rucker (2012 Visual Arts), Jesse Sugarmann (2012 Film/Video) and Elaine Tin Nyo (2013 Emerging Fields). This marks the fourth year that we have been invited to present “Art at the Edge” at this celebration of innovation and intellectual curiosity.

This year’s IdeaFestival artists are a truly interdisciplinary group of makers and thinkers, and we’re thrilled that 21c Museum will exhibit photographic and video work by the Creative Capital artists in conjunction with the Fest.  Continue reading