Through hybrid non-fiction and experimental dance film, multi-channel video installation, and dance performance, I stage and script bodies and cameras in concert to elucidate and distill the undetected, embodied mechanics of social life and the body politic. Facilitating a research process integrating movements, gestures, and postures from cinema and archival footage, embodied memories, and contemporary dance languages, I choreograph through practices of interviewing, re- and pre-enactment, adaptation, and improvisational play, shaping dances with diverse communities of performers and movers -- from professional dancers to cohorts of seniors and teenagers. Compelled by the blurry threshold between the aesthetics and forms of non-fiction and fiction filmmaking, I create fictions and speculative encounters that teeter at the edge between familiar and unrecognizable movements.
Sarah Friedland is a filmmaker and choreographer working at the intersection of moving images and moving bodies. Her work has been screened, installed, and performed across film, art, and dance venues including New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, Ann Arbor Film Festival, BAMcinématek, Performa19 Biennial, La MaMa Galleria, Sharjah Art Foundation, MAM Rio, Wassaic Project, the American Dance Festival and Dixon Place, among many others.
Images courtesy the artist.
Interview questions developed by 2020 AIM Curatorial Intern Victoria Sperotto.
© Sarah Friedland
© Sarah Friedland
Q&A with Sarah Friedland
How have you been connecting to art or your art community during Covid?
I haven’t spent this much time on the phone since I was in junior high. Long, rambling, check-in phone calls with the artists I am lucky to call my friends. During the first few months of lockdown, the cinematographer I collaborate with, Gabe C. Elder, and I were watching and discussing a film a week. Deconstructing cinematic work together has been a gratifying substitute for constructing it together. Meanwhile, I am immersing myself in a lot of film.
It has been said that people today interact little with each other and rely too much on technology, but your work brings emphasis to human interaction and unofficial rituals between people. What is the importance of highlighting these interactions in your art?
We experience so much of our social lives as embodied interactions and exchanges. And yet the grammar of movement that comprises the social world is rarely envisioned or deconstructed through its choreographic elements. I’m interested in using film and video forms to make these interactions visible as choreography to understand the politics, and effects, of the patterned moves we enact daily, both on a collective and individual level. We must attend to the choreographies that structure the social world to understand how we move through it.
Your work includes a varied range of ways the body moves, like crowds, senior citizens dancing and drill videos. How do you select the type of interaction you want to represent?
The initial motivation behind each project and its focus has been distinct. But in general, I’d say that I become obsessed with a particular context or pretext for movement and start asking myself a lot of questions about the choreography produced in/by it. I follow threads of curiosity, often in sequence. So for example, Home Exercises, my film about the choreography of aging individuals, and Drills, my film about the choreography of preparation, are part of a trilogy I’m making about movement exercises. I’m beginning research now on the third, which will focus on trust exercises across different types of cohorts, colleagues, and congregations. Once I land on a particular type of movement, I interrogate the political logics of its choreography, and the filmic forms that have represented it historically, and this inquiry often leads me to another movement form, and on and on it goes…