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An Interview with Genevieve Anderson
How do you approach the beginning of a project?
New projects generally are born from a sensation about something. I let that sensation build whatever component begs to be built first, be it a specific puppet, a sentence that will later be incorporated into the script, or a piece of the set. I try to capture the seed of that initial inspiration, and build from it. This way, I always have something to refer back to, to remind me of why Im doing what Im doing.
What would you be if you couldn't be a filmmaker/ artist/ writer/ multimedia/ installationist?
A farmer or a nun.
Have you (ever) transitioned to another medium or genre? What was the impetus and experience and how did it effect your original discipline?
I started as an actor and movement theater artist. I had no plan to become a filmmaker. I knew that I wanted to tell a specific kind of story through an innovative approach to the stage. But after being thrown off a wild horse in Mexico and breaking two lumbars in my back, I suddenly was confined to a long bed rest. During this time a puppeteer friend of mine asked me to participate in a bunraku performance created by Heater Henson, the youngest member of the Jim Henson family. We rehearsed at her sisters house, which was full of Muppet memorabilia. I grew up on the Muppets, so I was in awe. I began learning one of the most magical forms of live theater I had ever seen. I started making my first puppets out of panty hose, fiberfill, and thread (to make features), then quickly moved to Super Sculpie, my favorite medium to date.
When I returned to Mexico to work with a movement theater master at the Estudio Busqueda de Pantomima, I had a harrowing experience. Using the puppets I had been developing, I decided, to turn my experience into a film. I shot it in 6 hours and edited it in another 20. The whole thing cost maybe 50 bucks. Knowing nothing about festivals, I submitted it to Berlin and not only got in, but won a Special Jury Mention. That was the beginning of my work with puppets in narrative films. Life is wonderful that way; sometimes the greatest things happen from staying open to what comes out of left field. Even though this is not what I planned to do it is even more in keeping in ways I am now only beginning to understand with my original goal of telling stories in a way that is completely my own.
What is the one question you have never been asked regarding your creative process?
The question Im never asked is what I have always wanted to ask other artists and what is perhaps the most relevant and interesting to me: If you could distill the thing inside you that is the genesis for all that emerges from you, what would you call it?
For me, art is an attempt, beyond the capability of language to communicate the deeper sense we have of our potential as spiritual beings. Art is effective when it captures our true nature outside the things that divide us in the temporal world (ethnicity, gender, religion, economics ). Since there is no way really to describe what this is, images function as a portal to where our dreams and visualizations of things possible may manifest.
I am also interested in how the urban structure affects our interior beings, and how we translate these effects, consciously or unconsciously, into our work. Because the backbone of popular culture is derision, cynicism, and contempt, contemporary art has the unique challenge of somehow speaking through these seeming impenetrable walls to the place inside us that still has hope for this world and humankind. Because we already know things are bad, to say that things are bad in our work is redundant and often incites anger (this is something Ive observed in all art forms, especially music, where call to action songs are somehow laughable because weve become so jaded). To put forward hope in our work often incites the kind of anger that comes from impatience with naiveté. So how does art, then, have relevance if the function of it is bound by cynicism on both ends of the spectrum?
At my core I truly believe in the best in the human animal and I can only respond to the world with a positive idea for its evolution. To answer the question, what would I call the place inside me where all of my work emerges? I would call it hope.