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Shana Moulton's Portable Performance | "New York Close Up" | Art21

  • 0:02 - 0:05
    [Financial District--Manhattan]
  • 0:08 - 0:13
    [New York Close Up]
  • 0:15 - 0:20
    [Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Studios]
  • 0:25 - 0:32
    ["Shana Moulton's Portable Performance"]
  • 0:35 - 0:38
    How did that look? Pretty good?
  • 0:39 - 0:41
    Did it seem like I was scrolling my iPad or iPhone?
  • 0:41 - 0:43
    [Shana Moulton--Artist]
  • 0:45 - 0:50
    So that’s...that’s the sort of part I need to coordinate before I go is getting that timing right.
  • 0:51 - 0:54
    OFF CAMERA: With obviously not your fingers but your full body? SHANA: Yeah, right.
  • 0:56 - 1:01
    This is my wig bag. It’s all wigs. Well, and some bags.
  • 1:06 - 1:15
    Okay, wig, book light, I think that’s it. Oh, I have a list.
  • 1:19 - 1:20
    I got it.
  • 1:22 - 1:27
    So I hadn’t been performing so much before I came to New York.
  • 1:29 - 1:38
    And then I also didn’t have a studio then. I was so broke when I moved here, so I decided to try to build the set with stuff that I could animate on my computer.
  • 1:40 - 1:47
    So that was like the first time I made this decision to scale down and make this portable performance.

  • 1:52 - 1:59
    It’s usually like me running around on the subway or maybe a car service if I’m feeling really glamorous.
  • 2:01 - 2:09
    With like all my props, you know on my arms, and uh, setting up half an hour before the performance starts.
  • 2:09 - 2:12
    [Bronx River Art Center--Mott Haven, Bronx]
  • 2:23 - 2:27
    [Tonight is the opening]
  • 2:29 - 2:35
    With these performances I don’t really know exactly how big this projection will be you know in relationship to my body.
  • 2:36 - 2:40
    You know if I’m like taller than this projection then that’s not going to really work.
  • 2:43 - 2:50
    The worst is like if I get there and I can’t test you know the...the DVD and the projection.
  • 2:52 - 2:56
    And I hate that feeling of not being totally prepared.
  • 3:05 - 3:17
    You know at an opening the attention span is you know at a certain level and something a lot longer than ten minutes is just like too long or....
  • 3:17 - 3:22
    I mean especially for my work it’s not about...it’s not really about that kind of challenge.
  • 3:23 - 3:25
    How’s the makeup looking?
  • 3:25 - 3:26
    OFF CAMERA: You’re getting there.
  • 3:26 - 3:28
    SHANA: Okay. [LAUGHS]
  • 3:31 - 3:40
    Sometimes people don’t realize that I’m in a costume. They just think I’m a...the wacky woman skulking in the back.
  • 3:41 - 3:42
    Are you starting?
  • 3:42 - 3:44
    [Erin Riley Lopez--Curator]
  • 3:44 - 3:47
    ERIN RILEY LOPEZ: Yeah...I wanted to...I didn’t realize you were out here.
  • 3:47 - 3:49
    SHANA: I’ll be right behind you.
  • 3:49 - 4:17

  • 4:17 - 4:24
    Leading up to the performance is totally nerve-wracking, but once I’ve started I love it. I’m like having a great time.
  • 4:24 - 4:41

  • 4:41 - 4:43
    I eat pink.
  • 4:48 - 4:55
  • 5:00 - 5:08
    Yeah, it was a nice response, wasn’t it? Yeah, yeah, I was happy. I mean people...
  • 5:08 - 5:22
    People tend to respond positively for most performance, so I don’t know if I can really go off that as, you know a gauge for how successful it really was but....
  • 5:22 - 5:25
    I felt...I felt alright about it. You know.
  • 5:28 - 5:31
    You know it’s...it’s a job.
  • 5:33 - 5:37
    As long as I’m prepared it works out fine.
Shana Moulton's Portable Performance | "New York Close Up" | Art21

Is being a performance artist just another job? In this film, artist Shana Moulton rehearses and performs "Whispering Pines 7" in the exhibition "Acting Out" at the Bronx River Art Center. In her 14th floor studio at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, an artist residency program of repurposed offices located in the heart of Wall Street, Moulton gathers up the essential tools of her trade — costume, wig, makeup, DVD — and takes the long uptown subway trip to the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Her first look at the venue, Moulton uses her limited rehearsal time to scale the video projection and adapt her movements to the confines of the space. The performance showcases, in a condensed and portable form, hallmarks of Moulton's recent work: playfully interacting with fantastical digital animations, unexpected changes in emotional tone, and performing in character as Cynthia — the central protagonist of the ongoing "Whispering Pines" series. Reflecting on the evening's performance, Moulton considers her aesthetic ambitions, audience expectations, and the pragmatics of being an artist in New York.

Shana Moulton (b. 1976, Oakhurst, California, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

CREDITS | "New York Close Up" Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: Andrew David Watson. Sound: Nicholas Lindner & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler & Maren Miller. Design: Open. Artwork: Shana Moulton. Thanks: Bronx River Art Center, Sean Carroll, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Marisa Olsen, Erin Riley-Lopez & Chad Stayrook. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2011. All rights reserved.

"New York Close Up" is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support provided by The 1896 Studios & Stages.

For more info: art21.org/​newyorkcloseup

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