Hello fellow Frameworkers!
so, as many of you probably saw, there were a few heated threads about the
state of MFW flying around.
I sat back and read those threads quietly without commenting, and I will admit,
they kind of scared the shit out of me and made me quite nervous, knowing that
I was about to be walking into a certain unknown.
You see, last spring, I received an invitation to screen my films at MFW. The
arts board in NB, where I'm from, has a residency funding program for any
residency of at least 30 days, and so MFW also invited me to come for a 30 day
residency. I used that letter of invitation from MFW to apply for funding to
cover my cost of living for one month in Brooklyn (apartment, studio, food,
transportation, etc). I knew that MFW was on a tight budget (from having seen
their "Take a Turn for Millennium" campaign), so this seemed like this was a
win-win situation... The invitation they gave me, enabled me to get funding to
spend a month in NYC, and the funding I got, enabled them to have me as an
artist in residence at no cost to them... win-win for both of us!....
However, after all of this was in place... that was when a lot of the intensely
heated email threads about MFW on Frameworks started flying around... and I sat
back reading them... wondering... what am I walking into?
I contacted MFW and was told that yes indeed, they had lost their space,
equipment was in storage, new bylaws were being drawn, a board election was
coming soon, and the director was stepping down.... but the history of artist
run centres and cooperatives is always filled with tales of crisis and
transition like this (it's more a question of "when" rather than "if") ... who
knows how this will all turn out... so here I am, at MFW for the month, and I
want to make the best of this for myself, but I also want to contribute
something to them during this transitional phase, and that's why I'm sharing
this with you all.
Artist run centres and co-ops are like human bodies... organizations are like
organisms. As they age, sometimes there are illnesses, and injuries...
sometimes they die... sometimes they go through a crisis, and pull through and
survive. I think that MFW is definitely in a crisis point right now. Will it
die, or will it survive? I don't know. It could go either way. Certainly
some people from the Frameworks listserv are ready to put nails in the coffin.
I would like to check it's vital signs first.
So, as a part of my residency while I am here... (I arrived a few days ago)...
I will be working on my own films and screening some of my work... but I will
also be performing a "listening tour".... (consulting and
arts-administration-as-relational-aesthetic-performance-art if you will)....
For my listening tour... I would like to meet with as many people from the NYC
experimental film community as possible... members and non-members of
Millennium... supporters and dissenters alike.... filmmakers and
organizations... I want to sit down, face to face... and listen to stories
about the past of MFW and it's present. I want to research the NYC film
ecology... where is there collaboration? where is there tension? where is
there redundancy? what are the needs of the community? I will take this
feedback, and synthesize it consolidate it into two things: 1) a formal
report on the current state of MFW with a list of recommendations and a
strategic plan for moving forward into the new millennium... 2) a Millennium
Film Notebook: an artbook or zine filled with the notes, maps, timelines,
lists, diagrams, and charts that I make during this trip and my meetings.
So yes.. I've landed in a very strange situation, but I am hopeful and
I know some of you have very strong opinions... if you are in NYC and willing
to sit down with me face to face... let me know. I would like to listen to all
you have to say about MFW.
I have an end date... I leave the city on Nov. 29... but between now and
then... let me know if you would like to meet up.
Here is more formal info on my residency and events at MFW:
also, as a part of the residency, I'm screening my super 8, 16mm, and expanded
cinema performances at Spectacle Theatre this Wednesday Nov. 4... and I'm also
screening a work in progress version of Spectres of Shortwave at Brooklyn Fire
Proof on Nov. 19.
Let me know if any of you want to meet up while I am in town... (even if you
don't want to talk about MFW... it would still be great to just meet some
fellow filmmakers while I'm in the city).
Times of transition are sometimes the most exciting times...
the possibility of failure and demise...
but also so many other possibilities of transformation, growth, renewal, and
the possibilities are endless.
Amanda Dawn Christie
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