This episode of the Bloom in Tech podcast includes a fascinating discussion between two very different film directors, speaking together at NeueHouse Hollywood last week as part of the huge array of events tied to the giant international art fair Frieze LA.
One of the two directors is Jill Soloway, who created the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Transparent series for Amazon Prime, and directed 2013’s Afternoon Delight. Soloway also created I Love Dick for Amazon, just finished a feature-length Transparent movie, and is working on a new project for Amazon.
Soloway, who in recent years has come out as queer and non-binary, pungently expressed (beware, O ye of delicate sensibilities) her thoughts on a wide range of issues around directing, why Hollywood doesn’t let many women, LGBTQ and people of color do it, being an artist, and where she plans to take her work and life.
The other director in the conversation was Jill Magid, a Brooklyn-based conceptual artist whose practice plays with, pokes at and generally investigates the culture of surveillance all around us, and the people, institutions and technologies behind it. Among other things, Magid is an associate of Harvard’s Art, Design and the Public Domain program, and an adjunct teacher at The Cooper Union.
Both Jills have made audacious projects, Soloway in pushing against Hollywood’s boundaries of gender and identity in Transparent and in her own life, on which the show is partly based, and Magid, in insistently asserting her way into organizations that aren’t used to the gaze of outsiders.
Magid talks about work such as The Spy Project, where for three years she interviewed agents of the Dutch intelligence service in an effort to “put a public face” on the secretive organization. No surprise that the organization ultimately had second thoughts about being outed, especially by a project it paid for. But Magid turned even that confrontation into another audacious artistic creation, through a solo show at the Tate Modern in London.
Magid’s most recent creation is her first film, The Proposal, which was acquired by Oscillloscope Laboratories for distribution later this spring.
As with other Magid projects, The Proposal is an unusual and provocative creation, a mix of documentary and conceptual art built on Magid’s continuing interrogation of the curious fate of the professional archive of Mexico’s greatest architect, the Pritzker Prize-winning Luis Barragan.
Magid says many of her works start with a threat or the possibility of a threat, and then she steps into it. Like Soloway, Magid is a unique artist, investigating the uneasy boundaries between public life, institutions of control and the technologies that sit between them.
The conversation between the two Jills was one of the first events in the vast explosion of art and happenings as part of the first Frieze Week in Los Angeles. The conversation was held early morning in an outdoor tent at NeueHouse Hollywood, the ever-so-cool co-working space carved out of historic former CBS studios on Sunset Boulevard.
As rain hammered the tent roof, Soloway and Magid ranged far and wide, taking on a series of questions from Stacy Switzer, executive director of Fathomers, an arts organization based at NeueHouse.