Who was Tilly Losch? Dancer, artist, choreographer, lover, wife, muse … Tilly seems a blur, glimpsed at the corner of the eye, dancing in and out of focus…
The film is about self-worth, the authentic self, and the credibility of creative women – Losch was someone who was at times exploited yet determined to maintain a path of her own making despite the obstacles that were very much present in her era. The parallels of Losch and the way women are still portrayed in the in the 21st century through the lens of the media and by society forms a powerful and thought-provoking statement about female identity.
Tilly Losch was an Austrian dancer who worked with prominent, and cutting-edge, choreographers and artists in the UK and the US, from the West End to Hollywood. She was also a choreographer in her own right, who later turned to painting. In collaboration with writer Rosie Garland, we looked to investigate the elusive and fragmentary nature of Tilly’s life, evoking the spirit of the 1920s–40s when she was at the peak of her fame.
The film is made from thousands of original images collaged together, these layered images considering the complexity of female identity both then and now: highlighting how far women have come in 90 years, and yet how far they still have to go to get recognition and true independence.
Prior to this project I had only made one-off films of one or two minutes. This was a challenge to see if I could push both myself, and my techniques, into something that would become an extended body of work. Initially conceived as a suite of 60 second pieces, as the work developed it became clear that it wanted to be a complete longer film instead. I exhibited an early version of half of the material in an immersive projection installation at Espacio Gallery in London (UK) and this demonstrated that it had potential as a single film. Although the final edit became hard as we decided to keep it tight, and cut a significant amount of writing to restrict the film to 10 minutes.
Since completing the film, Rosie and I were keen to explore a companion piece and translate our work into book form. It enabled us to explore the relationship between word and image in a different way, and to include the poems and material created for the project but we couldn’t include in the final cut of the film version. The book is available at all good booksellers, including Blackwells in the UK, Barnes & Noble in the US, and Amazon in Germany.