Discipline: Film/Video – experimental, Interdisciplinary Art

Janie Geiser

Discipline: Film/Video – experimental, Interdisciplinary Art
Region: Los Angeles, CA
MacDowell Fellowships: 1990, 1991, 2018

Janie Geiser is an internationally recognized experimental filmmaker and visual/theater artist, whose work is known for its recontextualization of abandoned objects, its embrace of artifice, and its sublime use of controlled superimposition. A Guggenheim fellow, Geiser is a pioneer in the renaissance of American experimental puppet theater. She creates innovative, hypnotic performances that integrate puppets and performing objects with live performers and film. Her performances have been presented at numerous venues nationally and internationally, including The Public Theater, Redcat, PS122, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, and more. Geiser’s films have been presented at the Whitney Museum, LACMA, the Guggenheim, MOMA, and the Centre Pompidou, Redcat, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Wexner Center, and the San Francisco Cinematheque. Her films have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Viennale. Geiser is on the faculty of the CalArts School of Theater, and is also a Co-Founder of Automata, an artist-run nonprofit dedicated to material performance, and located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown Arts district.

Janie Geiser worked on two projects at MacDowell in 2018. She continued to shoot and edit a new collage film, Valeria Street, which excavates recently found slides of her father at work many years ago, exploring family and work, and how much of a life is lived outside of each other's eyes. Additionally, Geiser further developed a projection installation, Look and Learn (Parts 2, 4, and 5) that was exhibited at Track 16 Gallery in Los Angeles in April 2018. Look and Learn excavates the visual vocabulary we use to operate and construct the daily world, through investigating the juxtaposition of visual instructions with a series of found 1950’s elementary school group class photographs that place individual students in an unforgiving grid. These photo-grids suggest an orderly world where the instructions might actually be followed. The photographs themselves become another kind of diagram, forming barely glimpsed guides to the students’ future world. They look ahead, to the 60’s and 70’s, when this imagined order of things will be exploded. Geiser is a recipient of a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Grant.

“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, Res)



Janie Geiser worked in the Cheney studio.

Cheney Studio was given to MacDowell by Mrs. Benjamin P. Cheney and Mrs. Karl Kauffman. Like Barnard Studio, Cheney is a low, broadly massed bungalow. Sited on a steep westward slope, its porches are supported on wooden posts and fieldstone with lattices. Although it still retains its appealing character, the original design of the shingled building…

Learn more