An interview with filmmaker Claire Kleinman for #OriginalsMilano Grid Talk

Claire Louise Oster Kleinman, has always lived in contact with art.
She started very young to follow her mother in her studio, where she spent whole days drawing, but when she got older she decide to become a filmmaker.
She travels a lot, she studies and observse everything around her.

She is the third artist we interviewed for #OriginalsMilano Grid Talk and here’s how she answered our questions:

How did you start and what is the most representative element of your art?

My mother, Carol Oster is an artist, so I grew up drawing on the floors of her studio. Not many children get to draw on the floors. I think it was because I drew on the floors that I am perceptive to cracks. I mostly make videos, and I think video and moving image have an interesting relationship to the body. I read a lot about plants, especially when I am traveling or living in a place where ‘nature’ is less confined, places outside the metropolis. Learning about plants feels like learning about my neighbors in these spaces. I tend to look for places or containers for transmission – full voice mailboxes, for example. I like to think of roots as transmissions, as ‘natural’ telephone lines. I think about what we can learn from the fissure, from the plant that broke through the concrete. I find value in investigating the crack instead of patching it up.

What is your creative approach when you measure yourself with a new project?

It is my objective to find good conditions for storytelling, to consider how stories are passed on, and find truth in the decay of a story. Usually I will look for connections between the project presented and the environment around me. I do a lot of research, and reading, and observing. I tend to just attach myself to a line of transmission, often a story, and see where it goes and sometimes it is nowhere but often it is somewhere. I attend the Cooper Union for the advancement of science and art. I discuss projects often with my professors,I would be very lost if not for their generosity. I strongly believe in art collectives and collaborations and asking for help. Last year I spent some time living and farming in Puerto Rico as well as traveling and teaching art in Guatemala and Mexico. I took my camera everywhere and shot about 30 seconds of whatever I was looking at. I began writing poetry again. I am not disciplined enough to keep a journal, so this was how I documented my movement through these new spaces. Once home, I tried to keep a distance from the footage and experience it as archival or found footage. I tried to build narratives by stringing together the shots – I must have over 600 shots of B-roll. In addition to making videos, I am working on launching a natural vegan skincare line called Dame’s Rocket LLC.
We really want to educate people about the healing properties of unique plants and how to engage with, and protect, native plants (so keep an eye out!)

How did your collaboration with adidas DEERUPT start and what kind of work did you plan to do?

I became interested in DEERUPT immediately from the title of the campaign. I was studying a lot about volcanos when I was living in Guatemala at the foot of Volcan Fuego. I would see her erupt at night. It is humbling to watch this kind of earthly catharsis. I think the grid is somewhat related to the eruption through a kind of material ambiguity: magma starts soft and becomes hard the longer it spends above ground. In my mind, the grid functions in a similar way; it is also malleable, it also exists on the threshold between hard and soft.

For my project with Adidas DEERUPT, I made a video installation. They have a space in the bottom level of the store by the changing rooms where they project video advertisements. I wanted to work in this already existing space of moving image and show something that uses different cinematic tropes to transform the space into something new. I want viewers to contemplate spaces of video and moving image and reimagine these spaces. Spaces of cinema are expanding. Perhaps years from now all films will be projected in basements of shoe stores!

I wanted to use astroturf tiles to allude to the mimicry of ‘nature’. Considering both the imposition of the grid onto ‘nature’ –like the 1811 commissioner’s plan that rearranged New York City into a grid –as well as the observation of the grid in ‘nature,’ such as honeycombs and plant cells. I hope it will be a pleasurable and tactile experience for those who can see it. The video is called Dusty Miller Dancing (named after a really beautiful plant I don’t think gets enough attention.) It is a documentation of a series of events that transpire inside of a wormhole, and how four (including the plant) different characters communicate in this altered time space. In the end, the irruption (not eruption) of a plant into the space, which creates a fissure in the sterile environment represented as an endless grid, provides the characters with an exit. I really want to thank my team (especially my sister, Lily) for their hard work.

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