Grace Graupe Pillard
US media artist
Interview: 10 questions
1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background?
I was born and raised in Manhattan, NYC a child of refugees from Nazi Germany. My family experienced great upheaval during the Holocaust, including the loss of my paternal grandparents. After attending Music and Art H.S. (now called La Guardia H.S.) I received a degree in History and Political Science from The City College of New York. After a one year stint in Graduate School at CUNY majoring in Russian Area Studies, I returned to my first love, drawing and painting and have exhibited and been represented by galleries in NYC and Chicago since 1972. Over the years my family history and academic background has informed my work with its focus on political and social content. For the past 5 years I have been digitally manipulating photographs, exhibiting large archival pigment prints addressing war, collateral damage, and “the politics of fear,” as well as personal issues such as getting older and how that impacts a woman’s view of self and how others view her.
2. When, how and why started you filming?
I started making videos 5 years ago when I bought a new Macintosh computer that included iMovie software. Being a painter, I am used to a still medium, so working with a time-line opened up a new world for me. I had always fantasized about making movies but never had the know-how or budgetary means until then. Since I was a child I wanted to be an actress and love going to the movies, and go at least two times a week. The reality and costs of film-making were not available to me at that time. With all the technical and accessible innovations of the computer and video cameras, I am finally able to realize my early dreams with the awareness of the vast chasm of possibilities ahead.
3. What kind of subjects have your films?
Subjects include personal rants, aging, war, refugees, the death of my mother, a recent medical procedure, and my worries and fears both personal and political. Up till now my videos fell into two categories – one utilizes photographic stills of my drawings and paintings adding music, video clips (some are historical and appropriated,) and references to popular culture to become a linear tapestry. The others are more personal and confessional – a cathartic way for me to deal with my anxieties and fears – often with humor and satire. For the past few years my videos have dealt with desirability, physical flexibility, intellectual agility or loss thereof, that comes with aging.
4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles, etc.?
Some of the videos take up to a year to develop. With those, I keep a file on my computer of images and video clips that I plan to use and when I feel I have the music, images and idea finalized in my head, I start to realize the film. With others, I spontaneously sit in front of the camera on the MAC (iSight) and just start talking and acting (out!)
Stylistically I like to collage and weave imagery in and out of the video. I also re-mix sounds adding layers upon layers so that the final piece is a coherent structure.
5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use?
I use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT to shoot my still images and then manipulate them in Adobe Photoshop and import them into Final Cut. I also have used iSight (in iMovie) – the camera built into the Macintosh. I use a Flip MINO HD which has been very liberating as I can walk around and carry it in my pocket like a sketchbook. I have been enjoying the intricacies and mysteries of editing in Final Cut, a program that I continue to struggle with – but love the editing process which I liken to building a bridge.
6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?
I see new media democratizing and popularizing film/video such as snapshots did for the camera. With inexpensive means, more people can express themselves visually and publish their work to a larger audience.
7. How do you finance your films?
Not an issue that I have to deal with….yet.
8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team? If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
I do collaborate occasionally and it has been a very positive experience. My collaboration always involves sound/music.
9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
Shirin Neshat, David Cronenberg, Deepa Mehta, Clint Eastwood, Paul Thomas Anderson, Andy Warhol, Bill Viola, Douglas Gordon, William Kentridge among many others.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
My dreams are to make vividly compelling videos that address issues, from a lifetime of making art, with a seamlessness that belies the technical and conceptual complexities that underlie the work.