"Against Pure Cinema" by Trisha Low

“You are born in 1988 in New York, a city that will soon expel the last dregs of a sustainable artistic culture. It is a city that you immediately forget. You are whisked by your parents instead to another country, safe and clean; but there is no place untouched by the ills of the world, which fast-track themselves; sprout as you do.

“It starts harmlessly: a love for books, a need to read, a curiosity about elemental symbolism and form. You start to write. You are bad at drawing. You are taught to admire white poets and writers because they are the paragon of art; you are told to read Asian writers because they will teach you about your history and your culture. You accept this but some part of it angers you in a way you do not yet understand. It will take you more than twenty years to untangle this ridiculous aesthetic binary.

“"As a teen, you hide yourself with eyeliner and mesh. You wear boots and learn to mix a tape. You find out about experimental poetry, you like this idea that identity is a construct that can be bought and sold; can, like your black outfit, be put on and taken off. You choose to believe that foregrounding artificiality and the performance of identity allows art to get at something akin to the complexity of race. The burden of it. Even if you don’t admit it immediately, you know you are being willfully naïve.

“You write two books; you become bored with writing because writing is hard. You learn more about film from a new person you’re dating and begin to seek it out at events and screenings, the weird shit that hurts your eyes and burns when it endures, long and slow. You still consider yourself a poet, even if this label seems inadequate to encompass the work you want to make — work built out of awkwardness and noise and the cruelty of hope.

“Your friend Tooth invites you to be part of Light Field, an artist-run and collectively organized festival of experimental film on celluloid — a group that previously has consisted only of cis white men. Others who have received this invitation at the same time as you are neither white, nor straight. And even though this collective is full of good faith — fun, equitable, at moments even utopic, even though you know each of you has earned your place— you will not ever be able to satisfactorily answer whether you were invited in primarily as an effort to diversify. Probably you already know the answer….”

Continue reading here: https://openspace.sfmoma.org/2019/03/against-pure-cinema/

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