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“I SAW YOU CRYING” Frontier section artist spotlight: Maria Marshall

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Saturday, Jan. 17, 5:30 pm — Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City]

As an artist I am at liberty to use everything as an influence to tell the story.

I have made a three-minute wonder that was entirely filmed on a mobile phone. A series of three-minute films were commissioned by the British television station
Channel 4, and the films aired before the 7:00 p.m. news. I discovered early on how to be true to materials, and this awareness is reflected in my work.

The Internet and YouTube are sources for information at our fingertips. I am, however, very specific when I visit the sites, as I am conscious that too much information can make you lose focus. So I edit my influences.

My audience (not a large one, but an interested one) is used to visiting a gallery in search of stimulation, an alternative thought process, a need to expand the mind. This is the relationship that I have with the space and with a viewer who is on the fly…therefore the content should grab them and let them go, but stay with them — for years if not forever.
Ambitious, I know.

Remixing existing stories isn’t new. I use it, however, to tell my own stories. For example in The Emperor’s New Clothes, filmed in a desert, my son Jake Marshall Naef 8 puts on layers of clothes until he is unable to move. The soundtrack is President Bush’s speech giving Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq. The visual layering is coordinated with the layering of clothes. As the film is reversed, the layers are removed to give back the clarity to his speech, like peeling off the lies resulting in a naked boy and the naked truth. The “naked truth” is juxtaposed with Bush’s voice saying “God Bless America” as he prepares to invade Iraq under false pretenses. Another film, Stearman 41, is a response to that unbelievable footage of 9/11.

So the dissemination of information becomes key. I Saw You Crying is an obvious reaction to a clear, unsolved issue.

I watch many films and am particularly drawn to concepts. In my own films, even if the story is an emotional one, there is always a conceptual construction. I then use tools that enable me to be true to my materials, i.e. video for documentary-type films and 35mm for films that have the punch of an ad or speak of escapism. I am constantly borrowing, whether it be visuals, speeches or ideas — the end result bearing my individual stamp.

As an artist if I were to use YouTube to show my work, I would have a different approach. Somehow I remain precious about it — needing that controlled environment to show my work. To give it space to be considered. I think it undermines the gallery structure where they wish to show the work and for someone to support it by buying it. YouTube is for everyone, and the artist or gallerist is not remunerated. My work would also get lost in the mass of information. How could it rise to the surface? What kind of people surf YouTube? My kids and their friends? But their friends are not my audience. Not yet!

On the other hand I could be incredibly shortsighted; it could be that it is possible that it would reach people that may not normally go into a gallery and, that those people would then go to the galleries. YouTube would most definitely compromise the way that the viewer views the work. The sound would be small, the colors would vary and above all there would be a completely different relationship with the content due to the size of the screen. Perhaps one of these days I will jump in and test the YouTube waters. The worst that could happen would be, I guess, nothing!

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