Residency Dates: May 12, 2019 - June 01, 2019
Application Deadline: December 02, 2018

Janie Geiser is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes performance, film, and installation. Geiser’s work is known for its recontextualization of abandoned images and objects, its embrace of artifice, and its investigation of memory, power and loss. ”Geiser gives voice to the reaches of the unconscious, pointing to the abandoned splendor that exists prior to the rules of society and language.”  (—Holly Willis)

Geiser’s films have been presented at the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, LACMA, the Guggenheim, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Wexner Center, the Walker Art Center, the Centre Pompidou, Strausbourg Museum, the British Film Institute, and at numerous festivals including the New York Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Viennale, FilmFest Dresden, and more.  Her film The Red Book was selected for the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, and her films are in MOMA’s permanent collection. Her films are the subject of a retrospective in June 2018 at Olhar de Cinema in Brazil. Her projected installations have been exhibited at in Los Angeles at Track 16 Gallery, POST, China Art Objects, Automata, and other galleries.

In addition to her film and projections, Geiser is one of the pioneers of the renaissance of American avant-garde puppet theater. She creates performance works that integrate puppetry, objects, performance, and projection.  Her interdisciplinary performance work has been recognized with an Obie Award and two Bessie Awards. A Guggenheim recipient, Geiser was awarded a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award, and has received funding from Creative Capital, MapFund, MediaThe, the Jim Henson Foundation, California Community Foundation, The Getty Villa, and others.  Geiser currently lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches in the School of Theater at CalArts.

For more information, visit

Residency Statement / Project Proposal

Fortress / Belvedere

During this residency at ACA, I will be developing Fortress / Belvedere, a multidisciplinary cinematic, time-based installation.  I am currently (2018) in the research/conceptual stage of the project, so this residency will provide the first opportunity to investigate these ideas through a lab process in a physical space.  I look forward to exploring the possibilities of Fortress / Belvedere with Associate Artists from a range of disciplines.

Fortress / Belvedere will be a time-based installation with video projection and objects, and possibly performance or mechanical elements.  Fortress / Belvedere is an investigation and meditation on ideas of fortresses, hedges, walled cities, citadels, software, and other physical and imagined defenses, created in anticipation of protection from an enemy or to keep one’s self hidden.

This past winter, I read the WG Sebald’s deeply moving novel Austerlitz.  In Austerlitz, both the novel’s main character (Jacques Austerlitz) and the novel’s narrator, take long digressions on the subject of fortresses, defenses, moats.  As, said Austerlitz,

“Yet, he said, it is often our mightiest projects that most obviously betray the degree of our insecurity.  The construction of fortification, for instance…clearly showed how we feel obliged to keep surrounding ourselves with defenses, built in successive phases as a precaution against any incursion by enemy powers, until the idea of concentric rings making their way steadily outward comes up against its natural limits…

…At the most we gaze at it in wonder (at these fortifications), a kind of wonder which in itself is a form of dawning horror, for somehow, we know by instinct that outsize building cast the shadow of their own destruction before them and are designed from the first with eye to their later existence as ruins….”

A parallel concept that I’ve been interested in is the centuries old idea of the “belvedere”, or beautiful view.  The word “belvedere” was used to refer to buildings located on a hill, lake, or other natural wonder, to take advantage of beautiful views, or to the architectural elements used to frame these views.

This idea of the belvedere was taken further in Victorian era, when private gardens were created as “natural” fortresses and outdoor parlors, surrounded by hedges, creating spaces that were private and away from the world.  Windows or openings were cut into the hedges to frame only particular views beyond the garden’s walls, framing only the parts of the world for that the inhabitants wanted to see.

Together, these related ideas will be the start for our research, object and video explorations, sound experiments, and, possibly, field trips to local forts.  I have no idea where this will go but I think it’s fertile ground to start from.  Perhaps we’ll make simulated fortresses out of natural materials, or tiny fortresses of handmade bricks or wax, or a fortress of sound, or ?

I’m interested in working with anyone who is intrigued by this subject matter and these practices and enjoys working in a process-based art-making laboratory environment.  Artists from all art practices welcome —visual, sound, moving image, performance, research—creative technologists and/or mechanical wizards—anyone who thinks that their skills and aesthetic impulses might be the right match for this project.  I’m confident that there will be some fluidity/ blurring the roles on this project, so that we can all work together to solve the technical and aesthetic problems that will inevitably arise as we approach the work at this developmental stage.

In addition to your collaboration on Fortress/Belvedere, I would like to invite Associate Artists to bring their own projects to develop. A portion of the workday will be reserved for your work, whether it is in the research stage, building, recording, filming, writing, etc.   I will be available to dialogue with Associate Artists about your works in-progress and assist you in any way that is appropriate to the work.  It is not a requirement to bring a project, but I strongly urge you to do so if this interests you.  We will also meet as a group midway and at the end to discuss your work.

Application Requirements

Your materials may be submitted in any of the following file formats; .doc, .docx, .pdf, .jpg.

Please, no more than 5 mb per file.

To be considered, please include the following items…

  1. A letter stating your interest in the project, including a brief artist statement or description of your practice.
  2. CV
  3. Narrative Bio
  4. Brief description of your proposed project
  5. Link to website or other documentation that provides an introduction to your work.
  6. Anything else that you think will help me to understand who you are.

Residency Fee: $900

Includes a $100 administration fee, weekday meals and housing; does not include artist materials, transportation, or weekend meals.

Scholarships / Financial Assistance

Only accepted Associate Artists may apply for financial assistance. For details, please visit the master artist details page.

Application fee: $25

Click here to Apply!

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