Janie Geiser


Doris Duke Artist Award, 2016
Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

Janie Geiser is an internationally recognized visual-theater artist and filmmaker investigating the emotional power of inanimate objects. Fugitive Time (2014) merges puppetry, miniature landscapes, live-feed video, and sound. Inspired by the dual histories of illness and health in the early twentieth century, it is an immersive meditation on the body, illness, and time. Her films are in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, The New York Public Library's Donnell Media Center, and the Library of Congress. Honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an OBIE Award, and funding from Creative Capital and MAP Fund, among others. She is co-Founder of AUTOMATA, an artist-run nonprofit dedicated to the creation and presentation of puppet performance, experimental film, and other lost or neglected forms. She is on the faculty of CalArts School of Theater. She is currently working with composers Cassia Streb and John Eagle on SOUND HOUSE, an installation centered on a series of tasks, which shape the sound in the room.

  • Photo Credit: Courtesy of Automata
    Janie Geiser
  • Janie Geiser- Fugitive Time (2014): http://vimeo.com/109433683
    Fugitive Time (2014)
  • Janie Geiser- Clouded Sulphur (death is a knot undone) (2013): http://vimeo.com/62586124
    Clouded Sulphur (death is a knot undone) (2013)
  • Janie Geiser- The Reptile Under the Flowers (2009-2011): http://vimeo.com/33515294
    The Reptile Under the Flowers (2009-2011)
  • Photo Credit: Amanda Jane Shank
    Clouded Sulphur (death is a knot undone) (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Alexis Macnab
    Fugitive Time (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Shannon Scrofano
    Tungsten (artery) (2015)
  • Photo Credit: Shannon Scrofano
    Tungsten (artery) (2015)

Artistically, what do you do and why do you do it?

The core of my practice lies at the intersection of formal artifice and real life.

My work explores the emotional power of inanimate objects and puppets as bridges between the spoken and the mute, the live and the not so alive. The visual language of the performances and films suggests elliptical narratives and investigates issues of memory, loss, fear, mortality, power, transience, and the body. I work both conceptually and intuitively, often compelled by an image, an idea, a sound, a newspaper article, history, or a cultural artifact.

Puppets are the perfect vehicles for this investigation: they can be uncanny, confusing, durable, disposable, malleable, duplicitous, beautiful, ugly, scary, sublime, transcendent, or ambiguous. Using a spiral structure, a hieroglyphic visual/movement vocabulary, and merging projection with object performance, meaning is constructed through association; truth is elusive, and the questions are often between the layers.