Author: handspuncinema

The Smoldering Forest

In this episode of the project, the experimental forest at Sagehen Creek (near Tahoe, CA) and the experimental forest of the Om Corporation (which circulates in my narrative), collide, bringing history, mythology, and science into conversation with one another across time and space. Originally imagined as a film, the project had intended to use human-powered solutions for the production. However, since the most environmentally-friendly film is one that never gets made, the project now exists as a performance of the film. In this iteration, scrolling becomes the method that bridges between ancient forms and digital technologies.

Forest Tales: (Un)Becoming Sita/

2018, Performance, 45-60mins
Larval and shape-shifting, Sita reminds us that we must summon the courage and imagination to radically transform our stories as well in the present, if we are to survive and thrive in this age of climate chaos and the sixth extinction. Stories enact worlds, after all. This performative lecture introduces audiences to the many incarnations of my tentacular project, Forest Tales, offering a chance to encounter whole new worlds with Sita – ones that have been right below our noses all along! Audience members will ‘become-projector’ in order to participate in a cinematic experience about the project, unflattening process along the way, and paying due attention to the material ecologies of artistic practice. (Illustration by Fei Rost).

When Sita Was a Microbe

2017, Performance, 90mins
When Sita Was a Microbe was produced as a fundraiser for SF Women Against Rape in the summer of 2017. It featured two performances that brought together Deaf and hearing communities through dance and drama: I Have Never Known Two  was based on a poem by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, and explored the Ardhanareeshwara form of Lord Shiva. Ganga Satellite, charts the journey of a million sitas – microbes in space who arrive on earth to become a sentient forest. One of the many-pronged intentions of this production was to explore alternative narratives of the Ramayana, and surface Dalit and indigenous narratives that seek to dismantle a hegemonic, caste-reinforcing version of the epic.

Forest Tales: An Eco-Cinema in Two Acts

2014, Performance, Act 1: 90mins; Act 2: 60mins
The “Ramayana” is a phoenix rising, a tale told and retold a thousand times, a tradition that is as much about storytelling as about the story itself. Following the revolutionary potential of the tradition, Forest Tales speaks to the injustices of our time through the voice of Sita, daughter of the earth. Originally imagined as a film, this project intended to extend the ethos of ecology into artistic practice by finding human-powered energy solutions (bicycle-powered, hand-cranked, etc.) for the production. However, since the most ecological film is one that never gets made, the project now exists as a performance of the film. Staged in two acts, Forest Tales is therefore not only the story of Sita, but also the story of cinema itself. (Illustration by Fei Rost)

All That Flickers

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The moving image has become a ubiquitous text in the last century, with its own particular language of representation. The LGBTQ presence on the Western screen has been well-documented and studied for a long time now; the cinema of the global South, similarly, has it own closet of on-screen queers, bursting at its seams. This course will conduct forays into American, European, Latin, African, Asian and Arab cinemas – and train students to recognize, compare and contrast, the historical, cultural, and aesthetic conventions with which to unearth ‘queerness’ in the moving image. The course will address both queer subject matter such as personal and political LGBTQ histories, representations of gender diversity on screen, representation of HIV/AIDS, and alliances with other marginal subjects (age, race, class, ability, ecology, etc) and queer genres and forms such as camp, horror, melodrama and science fiction, to arrive at the shores of contemporary cinema where queer subjects have now become mainstream.

Trans Global Trans

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This course will conduct an archaeology of the South Asian screen with the intent of unearthing voices from the margins of gender, sexuality, race, religion, age and more. The course will bridge topics in film/media studies, history, sociology and political science. Topics to be covered include:
• Cross-dressing in Indian silent-era films
• The Jewish/Muslim/Anglo presence in early Indian Cinema
• Genealogy of the Bollywood vamp
• Concept of ‘third sex’ in South Asian culture
• Asian horror and Asian camp as sites of marginality
• Effeminate men and butch women of the East
• South Asian Diasporic cinema
• Cinema and activism (around issues of gender/sexuality)
• Perspectives of the elderly in South Asian cinema