SNIPPETS OF A CONVERSATION WITH JANIE GEISER ABOUT “REVERSE SHADOW” (2019)

This entry was posted on February 19th, 2020

By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

As with all Janie Geiser’s work, one may ask what hides beneath this complexity of layering, of this multiverse of images that dialogue with each other, as entangled in a wild dream of someone’s trauma, of the presence of memory made oneiric, of the materiality of objects we once owned and cherished, coming back as a feverish phantasmagoria, an inescapable flow of synaptic pulses, palimpsests where nowhere leads to somewhere, where the interstices of the moving image that constantly play in our brain crash and cross tangentially, where everything adds like an equation we know the answer of, but can never quite work the details; the complex intertwining of numbers and procedures that would make us decode the underlying secret of our mind.

I do not claim to fully understand the complexity of Janie’s work, but there’s a particular intuition that is paramount when approaching it, as with any great work of art. Reverse Shadow is the latest product of Janie’s genius, and it’s the result of her endless imagination which has give birth to dozens of films, installations, puppet shows, performances and a vast mixture of all the former.

Days ago, Janie and I had a small exchange of emails which ended in a long conversation (an interview which we will publish soon), and some of her ideas on her latest film helped my first own intuitions about this particular film: I approached it the way that I might approach a 2D collage.  I had gathered a few objects and images that somehow were compelling to me at that moment. (…) It really developed as an intuitive emotional collage, somehow marking the anxiety of the moment, which hasn’t receded…it’s about that moment when you know that something bad is going to happen, but you’re not sure exactly what it will be.

Janie Geiser’s shooting desk. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Objects play a particular role in Janie’s work, like they do, for example, in Jodie Mack’s playful structuralism, but what’s particularly fascinating about her shamanic ability to make inert things alive is how every image, object, character in her films tells a particular story, how everything collapses and emerges as a unique creature, ready to insert itself into our retinas, to activate our primal fears, emotions, childish fascination, nostalgia, fear of ghosts, remembrances; resonating in the spiritual part of the self and how is it related to this emotional hauntology we know very little of but is present as deeply as something we might’ve felt minutes ago. The heart of it beats in the relentless activity of rescuing: found footage/archive/object/blueprint and the activity of montage and composing. Reverse Shadow it’s a kaleidoscopic show of Jungian shadows that both the artist and spectator project onto the screen.

Disembodied hands seem to guide us through landscapes both menacing and melancholic, figures of towers, hunters and planes seem to anticipate a hidden danger, maps of the body insert these fears in a particular physical idea:   Rivers run red, planes hover above the waters, ships travel in darkness, and towers loom and topple. Disaster seems imminent as the hunters prepare to shoot. The body is a soft target. And maybe this muffled sky which shelters our nightmares (or dreams) is our memory, and the blueprints or illustrations of planes are us, floating around the universe in constant state of anxiety and fear. The disembodied hands as the hands of God, the omnipresent hands of the artist, displacing everything out of sight.

My first intuition while watching Reverse Shadow was that something was pulling me into the past, drowning me in nostalgia, with the child-like gaze that I claimed to have lost a long time ago. Janie Geiser’s work rescues us from the desperate need of being in touch with the present, and such invaluable gift cannot be overstated enough.

Filmmaker: Janie Geiser
Sound Collage: Janie Geiser
Sound Mix: Kari Rae Seekins
Digital Mastering: Astra Price
Colorist: Caitlin Diaz
USA
8min