For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed award-winning artist-filmmaker Maxi Cohen. Her films, photographs and multimedia installations have been exhibited internationally and are in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum for American Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Her films have played in movie theaters, film festivals and television around the world. For more about Maxi go to: http://www.maxicohenstudio.com/
Q: What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a major art installation. A Movement in Water is a traveling, interactive mobile museum, with the intention of educating adults and children, while also instilling a greater reverence for our precious resource, water.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
A Movement in Water was conceptualized after spending years shooting and filming lush abstractions of water. I spent an immense amount of time in desert hot springs, meditating, writing. I felt a connection with water, its beauty, calmness, importance. As I photographed more I was inspired to take it a step further. With the impending water crisis, I knew it was time to use my footage to make a difference.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
My artistic heroes are those who bravely voice the truth in ways singular and authentic to themselves that are luminously catalytic and transcendent. I admire Eve Ensler, writer/performer of the Vagina Monologues, for not only doing that, but as a consequence creating huge social change. V Day raised over 70 million dollars to combat violence against women and girls. Artists like her raise the bar.
Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?
Discovery. A moment of creativity, an idea, the smallest note of color can be an inspiration, a savior, an opening to the next small step or big idea.
Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?
For more than three decades I have been photographing and filming in Ladies’ Rooms Around the World, from the Australian aboriginal outback to Zambian discos, the Cannes Film Festival to New York and Tel Aviv, from Rio to Bombay. Ladies’ Rooms Around the World celebrates the power and beauty of women. While for some, the ladies room is the only refuge of solitude and safety, for many the tribal dance of the ladies room is familiar. To men, it is a world of mystery they are curious to know.
Q: Ladies Room in a Sentence?
A celebration of the beauty, power and mystery of women.
Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
When you read something terrific or see a magnificent photograph and it is your own work but you have no memory of writing or photographing, this is when you are so in the moment. You are out of time.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
Well, actually, taking a Sabbatical as I miss the time of quiet when nothing constrains, when writing is discovery, dreaming is receiving and communing with the gods brings direction.
If there were no barriers I would be creating the ideas I have had for years – work that I believe is in a new language in both works of art and film. These works are meant to provoke, catalyze emotions, be transcendent, entertain and show us something in a new way.
Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
Take a bath, meditate.
Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?
The entanglements and subsequent consequences of not listening to my own intuition – It is a waste of time, energy, effort, cost …
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
Clean lakes for swimming, hot spring, sun.
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Taking a bath, silence, lying in the sun.
Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
Stop listening to what you don’t want to hear, be vigilantly honest with yourself, and give as much respect and intelligence to what you do in your life as you do to your work where you strive for perfection.
Q: Where would you most like to live?
By the sea.
Q: What is your idea of success?
Being able to do my work without asking anyone for funding. Being asked and supported to do what I envision.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Being in love – with work and play.