Kristin Reeves - PREVIEW

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revision Kristin Reeves

Kristin Reeves

Kristin Reeves

An interview with An artist's statement Threadbare was inspired by my experience being used for pediatric research on growth (1980’s –early 1990’s) that is considered a critical bioethical shift in the US from policy adopted after WWII and as a result of the Nuremberg Code, which protected vulnerable bodies from medical experimentation due to their inability to consent to the research. This shift, which I could discuss in detail if interested, inadvertently opened up what is now a billion dollar industry that that has used recruiting and retention methods of pediatric research subjects to sustain its growth. I made Threadbare thinking of how I could explain this complicated situation surrounding bio-power and the clinical gaze to my seven-year-old self who had learned a lot about the world and her body through stop-motion animation films. I’m also interested in the use of film as a production devise because it holds a physical history/memory of its use similar to our own bodies.

Kirstin Reeves Why have you used 16mm footage for this project? There is a particular reason linked to the ephemeral qualities of this rare format today? Yes, several traits associated with 16mm film’s physical form made it an irreplaceable tool in Threadbare. I wanted the project to present the human body as a vulnerable but resilient material resource within the transformative lens of the medical gaze. I thought of the film as a formal metaphor of the human body because 16mm film is also a vulnerable and resilient material. People as well as film emulsions are affected by both intangible and physical contact. For example film is altered by the invisible touch of light and it projects a physical memory of its use. Projections of a

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film’s history will not discriminate between unintended scratches and breaks, or intended edits and direct animation. Film is also resilient, surviving its systematic use (and abuse) within cameras, projectors, and guillotine splicers. Personal experiences can transform us in unforeseen ways and our bodies can hold a physical memory of these events. Though our physical memory may not be as transparent and accessible in human form as it is within a film’s material, I hope the use of film will evoke a feeling of the phenomenon in my audience. Stop-motion animation films had a huge influence on your conception of body in art: could you introduce our readers to this peculiar aspect of your art training?

between the body and media. At the same time that this formative experience occurred, I was captivated with stop-motion animation within children’s programming on television. Medical photographers photographed me at an early age because of various physical abnormalities I had due to a bone disorder called rickets. When I was about eleven-years-old, I found a series of these photographs in a folder while waiting alone in an examination room. I was shocked at my appearance in the photographs. They portrayed the bone disorder rather than me as a person, which challenged the internal picture I held of myself. I remembered that when they were taken the process had felt similar to portraits taken at school, but the clinical photoshoot resulted in images that captured me as a medical subject: specimen, material, object.

A formative childhood experience with medical photography led me to engage in art production as a means to understand complex relationships

I became obsessed with (as well as freighted of) finding photographs of myself in medical books. I wondered if I would be recognizable to myself

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because many text used tightly cropped segments of human subjects, concealing the person’s identity through formal initiatives. Though I never came across images that were of me directly, I eventually found images that felt as if the subject could have been me. This feeling of sharing an experience through media increased when I discovered fine art photography and films. I realized by producing still and moving media artworks of my own, I could gain more of an understanding of my life in relation to the clinic as well as the potential of media to not only reflect the world but to affect it directly. I learned many lessons through stop-motion animation as a kid and I thought the form would continue to help me understand the world as a filmmaker. I initially choose to use stop-motion animation in Threadbare because I wanted to spotlight the necessity of communicating to children immersed in clinical research that they

were being used as clinical subject. I understood first-hand the need to process the experience no matter how non-invasive or necessary the research might be. In addition to the reference to childhood educational films, the stop-motion animation technique visually contributes to the concept of the transformative power of media upon the body. Usually stopmotion animation is used to bring inanimate objects to life in film. By applying this technique to a human body, the production method is seen controlling, restricting, and manipulating what would otherwise be a souvenir body for the sake of the media rather than the individual. Threadbare contains a profound critique of the pharmaceutical industry system . How did you come up with the idea for this work? I started Threadbare as a means to address

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what I believe is a bioethical oversight regarding the use of pediatric research subjects in the United States. I was researching the United State’s policy on the use of children as clinical subjects because of my participation in pediatric studies. I discovered that in 1997 the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA) was enacted. This act loosed the pediatric bioethical restrictions established when the Nuremberg Code was adopted in the wake of World War II. The first principal of the Nuremberg Code is to exclude the use of vulnerable subjects who cannot give consent to their participation in various forms of scientific experimentation.

been limited. To support the new initiative set forth with the FDAMA, pharmaceutical companies were granted a six-month patent extension for any drug tested on children. Pharmaceutical companies used the initiative to create profits on drugs that had not previously been marketed for children, which opened up a untapped billion-dollar pediatric market-base. As a result the amount of pediatric research subjects increased from approximately 1,000 to 10,000 a year in the US. Regardless of the needs and methods of research, I think children should understand what they are experiencing and why.

FDAMA was motivated by the real need to provide children with correct dosages of medications they were being prescribed. Because of the Nuremberg Code’s pediatric research restrictions, studies to develop specific pediatric dosages of medications had

In your works, especially in Threadbare, we can recognize a deep introspection: do you think art’s purpose is simply to provide a platform for an artist’s expression? Do you think that art could play an important role

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in facing social questions? Could art steer or even change people's behavior?

enhance our ability to communicate and understand the world around us.

Yes, I think people need to feel known, seen, heard and understood. I believe behavior between individuals and communities can shift dramatically when people are allowed this sense of empowerment and knowledge. Art can perform as a platform to host these humanizing efforts for either artists themselves or the subjects that artists/filmmakers make visible through their work. Survivors of traumatic events such as violence as well as societies ability to process such events can be limited by conventional language. I believe it is important that art act as a visual language to speak the unspeakable and to enable ugly and difficult topics to be seen through captivating forms. Also, makers who use art’s inventive platform to move form, technique, material, or technology forward for cultural purposes, provide us all with new tools that continue to

How did you get started in filmmaking? I was producing multi-media art installations in Indiana, a predominately rural area of the US, as an art student and wanted to make my work more visible. I thought filmmaking would be a more a transportable method to distribute my work while still providing my audience with a durational and immersive experience. In 2001 I produced Monstriss, which is a 70-minute live action and animated experimental narrative video. This piece gave me the foundation and confidence to continue producing moving image works in a larger more prominent scale. Your video production is very miscellaneous: how has your production processes changed over the years? I ask my projects what formal direction they

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need to best convey the message being asked of them. I am extremely interested in investigating how various forms of media perform within the world. My investigation and process has become more pointed over the years. I am currently using found footage for several projects because of my criticality of the production of research subjects. I do not want to produce my own research subjects while criticizing others for doing the same. What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction? I love connecting with other filmmakers as well as audience members through the projects I produce. Filmmaking and art has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know people across the world. I feel a sense of purpose engaging in this work, which keeps me in the studio.

Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Kristin. What's next for Kristin Reeves? Are there any film projects on the horizon? I recently finished two projects: a media installation, [What Is This Feeling], that includes a series of 16mm film stills housed in medical x-ray light boxes from film loops that I had been using in a 9-projector film performance, Je Ne Sais Plus [What Is This Feeling]; a film score for the play The Midnight City running at the Steppenwolf Garage Theater in Chicago through October. I am also working towards completing a second 9projector performance piece What Is Nothing in addition to a few other short films yet to be titled.

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