This is a piece unfettered by brand briefs or editorial restrictions or any real third party opinion for that matter. To allow cognitive imagery to flow unfiltered, if you will, is equally liberating and terrifying in its closeness to my person. I didn’t sleep for two days before my first director’s cut screening in Los Angeles, and was just as nervous for the one in New York, which is new for me. In life, I’ve been trained to be unapologetically brazen and confident in my work. But it is a very different thing to believe in and hold out your work as an extension of yourself, than it is to hold out, simply, yourself. In Chinese there is a phrase, 想开 (xiǎng kāi) – get over it, my Mother would say growing up (mostly in relation to perceived public failures) – don’t take it to heart. That’s near impossible when you bare your soul, naked and vulnerable in an oversaturated and harsh terrain of judgment.
Yet, authenticity also means that none of that matters. This film was not made for other people – it was for me to express as exactly as possible how I see sound. Of course, it also represents an intersection of my passions (though I hate the word) and skills that have to date been cultivated quite separately – concurrently, but separately.
But out of the fray, piano remains my first great love.
I think we as a society make a habit of relying on collective indications on how your body should react in an individual experience – when really the answer is always in the individual. Whether it be some person, some trauma, some image, we all, at some point, unknowingly encounter some thing that defines our own spectrum of feeling. So when I say that my musical studies throughout childhood have informed all of my subsequent work in ballet, photography, art direction and now motion direction; I mean that music taught me how to feel, and everything I touch creatively is driven by emotion – sometimes to an irrational degree.
As such, this work explores my visceral experiences with playing Frédéric Chopin’s Fantasie -Impromptu in C# Minor, Opus 66 – stripping back the layers of performance and manufactured identity through my eyes (as both subject and director), my collaborators, and you, my audience. Presented in three acts. I wanted to show you my full range of interaction with Fantasie-Impromptu from Act I’s uncomfortably intimate, imperfect appreciation of the piece in the safety of the studio in which I studied and practiced; to Act II’s perceivably perfected staging of the piece in a jarringly grand visual setting; and finally, Act III’s sensory overload as a reflection of my internal performance arc.
The artists I collaborated with for Act III operate on this similar level of emotional and sensory synesthesia. With my recording of Fantasie-Impromptu as their only stimulus, we all ended up in a very unlikely, but comparable aesthetic and sonic realm. I have never been quick to acknowledge the universality of music as a unifying language. Society told me it was cheesy, and at least today, I don’t believe a lot of popular music warrants that level of analysis. Simultaneously, “classical” music is typically represented in a state of completeness and stiff perfection, with a deliberate evasion as to the raw process and source of emotions that inform the performance.
I find that this limits the appreciation of any pre-20th century music in any modern context – particularly in competition with sound and image that is specifically attuned to shorter attention spans and consumption comfort zones. Its complexity and steadier evolution does not lend itself well to instant gratification. I laboured on this in my editing process. Actively avoiding convolution in a message as layered as this is somewhat futile, as I discovered in the first month of cutting. All I can do is present it, and allow you to take from it what you will, how you will.
So at long last, here we are. Over a year in the making: my first truly personal piece of film.
STYLING CREDITS _
ACT I // Dion Lee top, Kailis earrings
ACT II // Margaret wears: Margiela bodysuit, Streateas Carlucci corset, Rachel Gilbert skirt, Tony Bianco shoes // Kirsty wears: Louis Vuitton // Hannah wears: Prada // Amberley wears: Dion Lee // Ella, Julia and Jena wear: Gucci // Sophia wears: For Love & Lemons // Akiima wears Zimmermann and Christopher Esber // Headwear by Christie Nicolaides // Eyewear by Barton Perreira
ACT III // Margaret wears: Camilla and Marc, DVF, Bassike, A.L.C., Sleeping with Jacques, Nanushka