Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Q&A with Kelly Richardson out in today's National Post

Dali meets The Day After Tomorrow in the surreal, CGI-laden films of Canadian artist Kelly Richardson. And many in the art and film worlds are taking notice. Tomorrow, excerpts from Richardson's latest work, The Erudition, screen at Sundance's kickoff fundraiser, An Artist at the Table. Last week, the full three-screen version of Erudition also opened for a two-month run in Lethbridge, with smaller versions showing in Toronto and Halifax.

Amid all this activity, Richardson is also just about to start a residency at Artpace in San Antonio, so I felt very thankful that she was able to squeeze in some time to chat with me over the phone about her work this weekend. She says on Twitter that "I could have been more eloquent but exhaustion had kicked in." Nonetheless, I take all responsibility for any lack of eloquence in the condensed Q&A that resulted, which is out on today's National Post. An excerpt:

Q You show mostly in art galleries. What's it like to be recognized at Sundance?

A It's great, and still a little unbelievable. I suspect Sundance has a very different crowd than might go to contemporary art galleries. It's nice to have that crossover to a wider audience.

Q What has the impact of mainstream movies been on your art?

A Massive. In the past seven years, the special effects in disaster films have really influenced me. It's not so much the storylines, but the money shots that I'm seduced by --like in The Day After Tomorrow where there's the great flood and then it freezes over, shown in all these epic landscape shots. Increasingly, I'm influenced by science-fiction movies, too. I love their ability to take you into a possible future; in that way, they provide a rare vehicle for seeing your present environment with a measure of hindsight. I guess Avatar would be a good one to reference now. The Lord of the Rings is another obvious pick.

You can read the rest of the Q&A here.

One thing I failed to squeeze in (among many) was that Richardson often spends months learning new software for each piece she produces. The only formal course she has taken in digital filmmaking and effects was a course on Final Cut Pro in Toronto in "1999 or 2000." That's a lot of self-teaching, folks.

Richardson also told me (and it may be no surprise to those who work with effects, but it was to me) that it can take months for the effects in her films to render--meaning, push the button and let the computer do its processing work time. I'm such a hardware naif!

If you want to see Erudition in person (and, ahem, haven't got a ticket for a sold-out Sundance funder) excerpts are up to January 31 at Birch Libralato in Toronto and April 26 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, with the big, real deal on view at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery to March 6.

(Still from Kelly Richardson's The Erudition from the SAAG)

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