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A new chapter of Lisa Anita Wegner's storytelling.

Filmmaker Performance Artist www.mightybraveproductions.com

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“One hundred new revolutionary materials riot in the piazza, demanding to be admitted into the making of womanly clothes.”           -Volt, Futurist Manifesto Of Women’s Fashion (1920)

Gallery 1313 is excited to have Paula John’s Celluloid Dress on display in the Windowbox for September 2015.

Celluloid Dress plays with the relationship between two technologies that creator Paula John uses in her art practice – sewing and 16mm celluloid filmmaking. Inspired in part by Volt’s “Futurist Manifesto of Women’s Fashion,” this wearable dress is made from over 250 feet of exposed 16mm film from one of John’s own films and nylon mesh. LEDs stitched into the skirt illuminate individual frames and project the images onto nearby surfaces for a truly stunning effect.

This amazing piece will be on exhibit in the Windowbox for September, during the period when the city’s attention turns to film with the Toronto International Film Festival. Celluloid Dress will provide viewers with an entirely different twist on what film can be, and stimulate their imaginations to consider other uses and convergences for familiar technologies.

Paula John is a multi-disciplinary artist and scholar based in Toronto. She has been exhibiting her work (including photography, film, textiles, installation, and performance) since 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, and a Master of Arts degree in Communication and Culture from York University. Some of the themes explored in her work include, gender, sexuality, feminism, and performance. Paula is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University.

Paula will be giving an Artist’s Talk at the reception on Sunday, September 13th from 3-5 p.m. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet a unique artist and view one of the results of her creative vision.

-Lisa Anita Wegner, Windowbox co-curator for Gallery 1313

Artist Statement

Celluloid Dress is a performance-based installation that combines the mediums of sewing and 16mm filmmaking to explore the numerous similarities between the two technologies. I was inspired by the early twentieth century Avant-garde art movement Futurism, and in particular the 1920 Futurist Manifesto of Women’s Fashion by Vincenzo Fani (Volt). In it he declares,

Women’s fashion has always been more or less Futurist. Fashion: the female equivalent of Futurism. Speed, novelty, courage of creation… Fashion is an art, like architecture and music…Women’s fashion can never be extravagant enough… The reign of silk in the history of female fashion must come to an end, just as the reign of marble is now finished in architectural constructions. One hundred new revolutionary materials riot in the piazza, demanding to be admitted into the making of womanly clothes. We fling open wide the doors of the fashion ateliers to paper, cardboard, glass, tinfoil, aluminum, ceramic, rubber, fish skin, burlap, oakum, hemp, gas, growing plants, and living animals.[1]

The Futurists valued speed, dynamism and new technologies, and were interested in transforming all sensory aspects of life. This extended to art, literature, music, food, architecture, and even fashion. In the spirit of the Futurists I developed a project in which I could combine two technologies that I use in my art practice: sewing and filmmaking. I merged the two technologies by first sewing a dress out of film. The handmade dress was sewn entirely out of 16mm celluloid film and nylon mesh, using approximately 250 feet of one of my films. I stitched LEDs into the skirt, which illuminate individual frames and project the images onto nearby surfaces. I then physically linked the two technologies in a performance, using a film loop to connect the sewing machine and the projector.

There are a number of similarities between sewing and 16mm film making, the most explicit being that Singer, the leading manufacturer of sewing machines, also made 16mm projectors. There are also parallels between the machines themselves. Both a sewing machine and a projector are threaded; both machines have a spool and a take up; both machines make similar sounds; tension is important; and the presser foot and the film gate serve essentially the same purpose on their respective machines. Even the movements of the machines reflect each other with the spinning of the reels and of the balance wheel. The process of editing a film is also similar to sewing, where shots are stitched together. The type of 16mm filmmaking that I personally engage in shares strong similarities with the act of sewing. Both processes take place within my home at the kitchen table. Both sewing and analog filmmaking are highly tactile and laborious practices where the physicality of the medium is emphasized.

For the performance aspect of the piece I project a copy of that same film through a 16mm projector on a continuous loop. The film loops through the projector and physically moves throughout the space through the use of pulleys attached to the ceiling. Approximately fifteen feet in front of the projector sits a sewing machine, which has been modified to add a film gate, allowing the film to pass through it on its loop. During the performance, I sit at the machine while wearing the film dress and sew the film as the projector drives it forward. The film is projected on both the sewing machine and my body, and as I sew, holes are punctured in the celluloid abstracting the image. Eventually through this process as more and more holes are punctured in the film the filmstrip is completely destroyed and breaks apart.

Bio

Paula John is a multi-disciplinary artist and scholar based in Toronto. She has been exhibiting her work (including photography, film, textiles, installation, and performance) since 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, and a Master of Arts degree in Communication and Culture from York University. Some of the themes explored in her work include, gender, sexuality, feminism, and performance. Paula is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University.

[1] Volt, . “Futurist Manifesto of Women’s Fashion.” Trans. Array Futurism: An Anthology. . 1st ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. 253-54. Print.



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Since Nuit Blanche on October 4th 2014, artist Lisa Anita Wegner has been performing as Thin Blank Human with her face and body completely covered in a white spandex suit. She talks about the surprising experiences of her audience interactions these last weeks as she talks to Fritz Snitz.

In the weeks leading up to Lisa’s third and last Nuit Blanche installation TRIANGLE: Ascension into Another Golden Age, Lisa discovered bending light with mirror film, a practise she calls Light Painting. Her mind was blown open so wide from this discovery she never recovered. In the days leading up to the event Lisa was not able to decide on an outfit for Mama Dada/ Space Guide. Several days before Nuit Blanche it all came together when Lisa found a white spandex morph suit and she never looked back.The Thin Blank Human came to life.10484925_10154646615130521_7406620484583067895_o
Q: On the eve of your Performance/ Projection/ Sculpture installation TRIANGLE: Ascension into Another Golden Age you were interviewed by local news and walked once to The Black Cat as The Think Blank Human, with only a headset and GoPro camera her your head. Tell us about that.
 A: My outfit really wasn’t coming together, and when I saw the morph suit I felt like I’d found it and I decided to put my original Space Guide outfit on a mannequin and be The Space Guide’s Soul. This also felt right for the light painting that I was excited to do. I decided I was the spirit of Mama Dada who travels through space and time. In the suit I felt comfortable and free, the only thing is I really can’t see. I had an interview with local news and I wore just the suit, the headphones and a GO Pro on my head. 
 
I noticed during that quick interview that people stepped and leaned away from me when I approached and talked to them. And stared ay me with with open mouths. Someone on Dundas Street said “that’s a dude” as I passed. I walked once to The Black Cat from Haus of Dada and got similar reactions. The wind was cold on my body and I had an impulse to put a dress over the white morph suit for my own warmth and comfort. Without testing it in advance I put a Mama Dada dress over my suit and went back out. 
 
I spent the  rest of the night in a performing in a white morph suit and a dress and more obviously a woman I got friendly reactions and TRIANGLE: Ascension into Another Golden Age was a a wild success. That night Thin Blank Human was born.
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Q: And then you performed a Strip Tease called Nothing To See Here. 
 A: Yes later in October I performed Nothing To See Here at The Canadian Alternative Arts Collective (of which I am proud to be a new member) and here is where the gender issue started to become interesting. That night I didn’t speak. I gestured to the writing on the back of my Flight Suit and then would do various strip tease dances out of the suit. 
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At first an older man said ‘You are spectacular, can I ask if you are a man or a woman?” I answered “I am a woman” and he said “really?” and stared at me longer. I said “yes my name is Lisa” and he seemed not to believe me. During this packed event I stripped out of the flight suit many times. A second man came over and said to me “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to punch you in the face.” I was surprised  and responded playfully but didn’t stop. Third guy said “I don’t want to see a man strip. Stop it it’s fucking disturbing.” I said out loud “I am a woman.”  I overheard another man say “that is not a woman, no woman would dance like that.” I also heard “no woman would wear that.”
 
Interesting. First of all who cares? These guys care. I was immediately reminded of friend and artist Steven Joseph, who was my MUSE for TRIANGLE, he is a male who is given a hard time on a regular basis by males who get angry with him for looking like a beautiful woman.  Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.36.04 AM
 
These small examples led me to believe that I want to further experiment with gender and the morph suit. So my female body shape and female voice do not trump the idea that I’m a man.  – October 27 2014.

Fritz Snitz is arranging for Lisa to perform NOTHING TO SEE HERE in New York City in 2015 following a series of performances in downtown Toronto. Tonight for Halloween Haus of Dada presents a Screening/ Performance/ Installation FREE SURGERY on All Hallows Eve where Lisa will be performing as The Faceless Dr. Wegner. 

More about Thin Blank Human Artist Would Rather Give Ownership of Her Work to Those Who Inspire, Than Those Who Can Pay.

More: Performance Artist Charging Art Collectors To Think About Her

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