Artistic Statement

Leslie Alperin

I am an independent filmmaker currently working in 16mm film and video. My artistic work is informed by contemporary art issues, feminism, and film theory. I am interested in crossing the boundaries between "experimental filmmaking" and narrative film and documentary genres. My current films and videos investigate the relationship between personal expectations, cultural myths and the role that language plays as a purveyor of culture.

For the past fifteen years I have been involved in film studies, filmmaking, and the fine arts. As of 1988, I have also been working in video.

My bachelor's degree in narrative film studies, and my subsequent enrollment in fine arts courses in painting have provided the greatest impact on my work in film and video. Early on in my filmmaking, I was interested in carrying over from my painting, an already developed personal vision which included the continued exploration of many formal issues, namely color, light, and movement. Whereas my early work in S-8 and 16mm explored the material properties of the film medium, my later work in film and video draws from the cultural and real world concerns of narrative and documentary genres. This new emphasis on content over formal ideas is directly attributed to my growing interest in feminist film theory and the issues surrounding representation.

Since my beginnings as a painter, I have been interested in feminism and the development of a female voice in my work. This preoccupation has carried over to my film/videomaking and my current video in progress "Against the Grain", along with my films "SideTRACKED" (1993), and "Soft Chains" (1988) embody this concern. Using the feminist axiom "the personal is political" as a departure point, this work is informed by personal experience, which I believe speaks to the universality of women's experience in patriarchy.

My earlier film "Soft Chains", confronts the problems of representation and the female body, while using a non-narrative structure and fragmented image style. "SideTRACKED", sets the story of a woman's personal journey through Western Europe against the larger cultural experience of travel. The film investigates late 19th century notions of travel which functioned as vehicles for self-growth and knowledge in opposition to contemporary tourism, which is aimed at the commodification of place and culture. Within "SideTRACKED" the mythology of travel is juxtaposed with the mythology of romance, and the woman's journey becomes a catalyst for reflection on the relationship between personal expectations and cultural myths.

Ways of seeing and visual representation are critiqued and questioned throughout the film. Visual expectations formed though movies, postcards and travelogues and representation of the "other" are investigated as truth/myth.

"SideTRACKED" adopts a non-linear structure as a method for circumventing the entrappings of traditional narrative/storytelling devices. A multiplicity of voices and ambiguity of character and time frames as well as text that questions closure, the definity of endings and the permanency of truths echoes the feminist theoretical concerns of non-linearity, non-closure, and multiplicity.

My current video (work in progress) "Against the Grain", investigates the personal struggles of a generation of women in their mid 30's to early 40's, who are attempting to reconcile their past as daughters of the post-WWII nuclear family experience with the ideology and gains of the women's movement. This experimental documentary examines many of the internal and external forces which operate in opposition to the goals of the women's movement in contemporary society. My personal perspective as a girl/women growing up in our culture is interwoven with the perspectives of a diverse group of women from their mid-thirties to early forties. I will also draw from my mother's experiences which I feel are indicative of women from her generation and of the internalized forces which present conflict for women of my generation. In addition, I will include the perspectives of women from a younger generation; their attitudes towards the women's movement, and its current backlash.

"Against The Grain" is a video of diverse images and voices. Regular-8mm home movie footage and old photographs, have been transferred to video and will be digitally manipulated using Amiga and Macintosh based platforms. The re-investigation of these images of the past through digital processing is reflective of the memory process of the participants who are so integral to this video. The soundtrack will be primarily voice-over text (my own and interviews of women of different generations), accompanied by popular music which exemplifies the social mores of different generations.

Presently, I am exploring digital platforms in conjunction with my film and videomaking, including Macintosh's Quicktime and Adobe Premier and Photoshop, Macromedia Director and Fast's Video machine. I see this departure as a logical extension of my training in the fine arts and I am enthusiastic about the implementation of digitally processed images and sounds as a way to expand the visual/aural vocabulary of time-based media. The participation of women artists in the rapidly expanding world of digital media is especially crucial given our limited representation in mass media. The advent of these new technologies provides an opening for media-makers with an alternative perspective.

Leslie Alperin

List of Film/Videomakers