Celeste Joy Greer, Nicole Ruby, Mark Yamamoto: I Statements

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    I Statements


Creation Year:




Artist Statement:

    Celeste Joy Greer (Southern California), Mark Yamamoto (Utah), and Nicole Ruby (Connecticut) come from diverse cultural backgrounds, yet they were united in this effort by their commitment to express the pain of self-loathing that is created through survival: a bitter irony, a cycle of self-abuse.

    I Statements was written by Celeste Joy Greer as a 30-minute “stream of consciousness” that uses “I” to focus on revealing the individual emotions.

    Celeste: “To live is not necessarily to be alive. I find I create pain in my life, so I will not think about how much I am suffering.” Celeste experienced a plethora of death in her adolescence: car accidents, suicides, and murders. “As a teenager, I never really had a chance to mourn, or to feel at all. The pain was so removed. I’d learn about the deaths through third parties, or in the newspaper. My parents did not approve of a boy I dated, and I had never met his parents. When I read of his death in the paper, what could I do? I couldn’t talk to my parents because they didn’t like him. And I couldn’t call his mother. I didn’t even know her name, and if I had called what would I have said? ‘I loved your son more than breathing, and he was a God damn selfish bastard for dying.'”

    Over the course of numerous still and video shoots, the team found they were expressing latent pain, making their commitment to the project that much more intense and personal. Celeste: “It was like therapy. One of us would have an idea and would say that we should try this camera angle or that. Or: Let’s have you doing this action because it reminds me of … And then we would say things to each other to try and express the intentions behind the words. Things you don’t tell anybody, not even your therapist.”

    The team went through several “looks” and discarded hours of footage that they felt would have been demeaning to the words. Mark said: “We had this initial idea to use pictures of all the products (Pinesol, Glad Bags, etc.) but that was too ‘kitsch,’ too much like advertisement.” Celeste said that some of the shots dealt with really personal feelings that she felt she could not do in front of Mark and Nicole, like the plastic bag. “I was really scared because the pain was personal. Mark offered to do it, but it just didn’t work. So I put a camera on a tripod and filmed myself’ Nicole recalls: “Celeste brought me the video camera and said: ‘Here. Look at this.’ And then she left the room. The shots were so completely scary.” Mark said: “That stuff was so creepy, I put it in the way it was. But it just didn’t work. It stopped being about the words and was all about shock value. And that wasn’t what we wanted. So I tamed it down, made it more obscure, with double exposures and motion blur. I think Celeste was relieved. But she still closes her eyes during that sequence.”