Artist’s Statement: One of the things I love best about making these films is not knowing exactly where I’m going until I get there. I have very strong feelings about this poem; the subject matter is relentlessly intense and endless, as suicide is. But the poem, ultimately, is about hope and a state of evolution towards the capturing of beauty and some kind of peace and coming to terms years later. And yet…there are plenty of images of struggle and darkness mixed in with the ecstatic and colorful, kaleidoscopic ones. Again, the surprises were delightful and liberating, psychologically, to stumble upon. The whole Houdini trope emerged in a spectacular and subtly associative way. And I snapped the images from an exhibition at a Los Angeles museum exhibition and almost got myself into serious hot water! I also had planned to have a certain inspirational friend appear in the film at the end. When he wasn’t available I had to do it myself, and turns out, that is exactly what was supposed to happen. The layers of meaning multiplied and aligned in a highly personal and poignant way. These films are very homemade and done in cahoots with my talented and patient husband, Phil Abrams who edits the films. In the same way poems are written from life’s detritus, I continue to be blown away by what can be created from the world’s gorgeous and brutal everyday scraps waiting to be collected and wrangled into something powerful and new.
How every morning he rose, slave
to the sound, this endless call to make.
Mad hatter, dervish sawyer, a primitive
blur of hands at work: fingers feeding
the dreamiest bolts through needles,
vision’s machinery. In the photo where
he stands, fists on hips—defiant, electric
in his Bowery studio, splotched jeans
and boots, the clouds of white gesso
a kind of palette couture—so satisfied
his look: Je suis arrive, Asshole…And
this is how I want to remember him.
Not what a note left like that means.
Not the slow descent, the pills or piles
of soiled laundry. Not the dog left barking
in the kitchen, the bowl with enough grain
to last. No, I want the beauty, even
his cursive, the swirling tints
of parting thought, the art itself: Dear Sister,
if I could survive this long, you will flourish.
© 2012 Michelle Bitting. All rights reserved.