We don't know what will surprise you more -- the dancing, flickering images bouncing off the oak trees at Legion Park or the fact that there are actually people in a Miami-Dade park. This Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m., experimental film lovers and curious passersby will swarm the park for Dinorah de Jesús Rodríguez's "Elusive Landscape," a site-specific film installation projected onto foliage. Sound designer Ricardo Lastre will provide a soundscape of ambient noise.
But does Miami have an appetite for abstract cinema? Rodríguez believes Miami's "audience that will purposely seek out experimental film is very limited. But the audience that can be surprised by it in the street is everywhere."
"Elusive Landscape" recently took over the Tequesta mounds and dark trails of Arch Creek Park. And after turning Legion Park into a theater of trees this Saturday, Rodríguez will take her projectors to E.G. Sewell Park, where, according to the artist, the beauty of royal palms and poinciana trees meets the grotesqueness of discarded Santería offerings.
New Times: Describe "Elusive Landscape."
Dinorah de Jesús Rodríguez: This project is a celebration of Miami's
neighborhoods, greenspaces, and eco-systems, and yes, our extreme
weather, complete with humidity and bugs. The project is a series of
16mm film installations at five separate outdoor locations over the
course of five months.
Is there an audience for experimental film in Miami?
I think it is a very new concept here, but fortunately we have enough
transplants from other cities who know what experimental film is. I
think with the upcoming expansion of the Cinematheque in Miami Beach,
the opening of the new Cinematheque in the Gables, and the development
of yet a third alternative film venue, O Cinema. The South
Florida community is about to be bombarded by this very expansive genre
in a big way. And I think our audiences are ready for this, just like
they were ready for the visual art explosion that Art Basel brought our
way. It may take a little time for people to realize that this type of
work is already happening here, and for audiences to wholeheartedly
support it, but I believe that Miami is ready for this type of art, and
it will eventually take off.
Do you only work with film?
No. I work primarily in film, mainly because no other discipline allows
me to play with the interface between visual art and cinema so well. I
stick mainly to 16mm because, over time, I have acquired the equipment
for this format (as opposed to the equipment for working in 35mm which
is prohibitively expensive). I love the physicality and chemical
properties of film, and I try to exploit and push these as much as
possible in my work.
What filmmakers inspire you?
I became an experimental filmmaker upon seeing the works of Maya Deren,
so it probably all begins there. Stan Brakhage, of course, is a major
influence, as is Len Lye, though it's possible that many people in Miami
have no idea who they are. Nam June Paik - what can I say? I think he
may well have been my favorite artist of all time. Paul Sharits with
his multiple projections, and artists like Bruce Conner and Chick
Strand, who worked a lot with found footage and really blurred the line
between documentary and abstraction. Among more contemporary artists, I
am blown away by Pipilotti Rist and really love the work of Lorna
You worked with Trinh T. Minh-ha. What was that experience like?
Minh-ha has been a very important mentor in my career, as I
tremendously both as a theorist and as a filmmaker. The most powerful
influences Minh-ha has had on my work have been the understanding of
time as a visual element - to really be able to feel the way pacing
manipulates an audience and drives the soul of the film - and the
concept of deconstruction of entrenched cinematic formulas by way of
such simple gestures as separating image from sound, or by joining sound
and images that "don't belong together."
Thanks to Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator and the FAN/Knight New
Work Award, you can see "Elusive Landscapes" at Legion Park (6630
Biscayne Blvd., Miami) this Saturday at 8 p.m. Next up, it will screen
at E.G. Sewell Park on August 14, Miami Beach Botanical Gardens on
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September 11, and Vizcaya on October 7. In the fall, the films used in
the series will screen at the Diaspora Vibe Gallery (3938 N. Miami Ave.,