An interview with festival jurors Stacie Sells and Cassie Troyan.
This is a first installment, of a new series of profiles and interviews with festival staff, board members, and volunteers. Stacie Sells joins the festival as the Chair of the Social Issues division. She will be working closely with a team of jurors, including Cassie Troyan, throughout the summer leading to the festival event season which kicks off September 09.
OH!Film: Congratulations on joining the festival, and thank you for offering your time for this interview. Lets start with an introduction. Give me some context.
Cassandra Troyan: In terms of interests, I feel there are hundreds of different facets which inform my practice as an artist. I enjoy the work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze, appreciating cinema in general, (especially Eastern-European, French New Wave, German Expressionism, silent film, and musicals,) studying languages, and traveling abroad.
Stacie Sells: I am a recent graduate of The Ohio State University who majored in Art and Technology with a focus on more experimental video art. There isn’t a film or video program at OSU. I had to create my own by picking classes that lead me to my interests, such as the class in 1960s Avant-garde and Film Theory. This led to my recent obsession in the “old school” 1940 musicals.
OH!Film: Your film “Coup de Foudre” screened at this years Athens Film Festival as part of the Experimental Abstractions program in April.
CT: In “Coup de Foudre,” the initial intention aimed at using more personally aggressive actions as a way to subjectification, by acknowledging, then conquering stereotypes of femininity. For example, at one point I take a roll of saran-wrap and begin to bind my head with it until I can no longer breathe. Such an action suggests the silencing of women and removal of voice, although in the end with my tearing through the layers, it is representative of claiming a place from which to speak.
This sort of confrontation also occurs in the scene where the Jackalope character methodically descends a staircase, nude from the waist down. Even though this displays a partially nude female form, it is portrayed in a way in which the figure refuses just to stand docilely and be observed. By descending the staircase, and approaching the viewer below, the character situates herself in a place of movement and control. Culminating in the final filmic sequence, these ideas solidify through an intense montage of women experiencing different modes of violent control.
The German phrase written on outstretched arms, “Du weißt nicht, wogegen ich anzukämpfen habe” meaning, “You don’t know what I’m up against,” reaffirms each encounter as an affect which women face daily in society. The very last scene transgresses beyond assumptions of frailty, or women viewed purely as objects of desire, with a female form emanating brightness and declaring a position as an active subject.
SS: What else can I can say after that great explanation? This film is to bring front the issues we both strongly agree on and want to bring into the consciousness of the typical viewer.
OH!Film: This was a project in which you two collaborated. What did each of you bring to the table?
CT: This was very much a collaborative effort, and for me, even though the theoretical aspects might have leaned heavier in my direction, Stacie and I still shared a united vision with these elements. What works best within our process is that Stacie often helps me further realize esoteric ideas in aesthetic terms. We are currently working on Part II of the trilogy, and our collaboration is becoming even more egalitarian as we are now both, shooting, editing, and appearing within this video.
SS: I also believe that we worked equally on the video. Cassie sought me out initially, as she was searching to work with someone who was interested in the issue of how images socialize us within society, and especially how that relates to women. With Cassie’s vision it was more directly focused with her ideas in relation to the concrete image, but often I would take those ideas and interpret them through abstract imagery. I learned that within this collaborative process we were able to push each other’s ideas further than we might have been able to on our own.
OH!Film: Whats your take on film in Columbus?
CT: Sadly, I think it’s a little disappointing. I believe there are many venues for opportunities that have not been explored. One of the goals that Stacie and I actually have is to create/inhabit a space once a month to give video/film artists in Columbus a chance to exhibit their work.
SS: We are hoping to have the first showing some time in June. Depending on the success, hopefully it will become a reoccurring event that will provide a productive atmosphere or community that fosters feedback and support.
OH!Film: What else is there, besides video and film?
CT: At the moment, I’m working to help other artists through collaborative efforts. This is all part of a project called the Embodied Knowledge Ensemble and Volunteer Corps, initiated by Ann Hamilton’s and Michael Mercil’s graduate seminar. It is an especially exciting course because it allows for an interdisciplinary atmosphere by including students from the art dept., dance, etc. I also enjoy bike riding, playing racquetball, and baking bread.
SS: A few days out of the week I teach art classes up in Powell to all ages of children. I also have a local cottage industry business with my sister where we make mini cupcakes and sell to local customers called Little Darlin Cupcakes. I try to connect as much as I can in the art world with people in different areas of study and interest to expand my scope in the art world and show that we are all able to connect and work with one another.
OH!Film: Anything else you want to share?
SS: Our film on Vimeo!