For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed multi-hyphenate artist and activist Veronica Moonhill. Based in Los Angeles, she is dedicated to exploring the question of being in the digital world. She is currently working on projects in performance, film and virtual reality. To learn more about Veronica go to: www.natandveronica.org
Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.
I’m working on a surrealist short film called This World and The Next. It is part Alice in Wonderland, part Girls and I’m making it with my partner-husband Nat Moonhill, which is the best. We are getting to play with the medium of film in a real way for this project because it is driven by imagery and cinematic magic. Coming from theater you are limited by the fact that you have to be able to repeat the performance over and over again, so it is difficult to do extremely messy or super intricate set ups. But in film we can make the magic happen once and it is caught forever. Love that.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
This project is my way of bringing theatrical presence and my own imaginative wanderings to the cinematic medium. The central drama of the short is a woman who finds out she is pregnant and is dealing with the impact of the knowledge that her whole world is changing. I feel like I have not seen pregnancy explored fully in film. I mean, film is so patriarchal and many men seem to think pregnancy and motherhood are not universal subject matters but are boring or only for “chick flicks.” We were all BORN so I think this is a grand oversite. Getting born is one of the most dramatic things we do in our entire lives! And for a woman to create a life! That is wild and truly super-powered. I want to embrace and engage with the notion that women have the power to create life and look at it almost like an origin story of a superhero. You find out that you have a power and you never fully realized its impact.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
Right now I am obsessed with Maya Deren, the experimental filmmaker and choreographer. I cannot believe it took me until now to find her. I think she is brilliant. Her short films use movement and camera in such a fresh way, she also has a distinctly feminine eye. I want to bring cinematic energy into a more narrative structure. Jodorowski is my other cinema mentor, I love his use of image and color. Romeo Castellucci is my total hero, he is an Italian theater director who has transformed what I believe is possible on stage. He makes image based theater that transports you beyond space and time. He drops cars from the ceiling, has wild dogs run wild amongst characters, creates a moving tornado on stage; between scenes you are on the edge of your seat because he could make absolutely anything happen next. I am also deeply inspired by visual artists. I come back time and again to Louise Bourgeois, Leonora Carrington and James Turrell for images and inspiration.
Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?
There is so much work to do in the world. We need art to center ourselves, tell new stories, reach the hearts and minds of people who feel forgotten and apathetic. I believe that film-TV are the mediums by which we understand ourselves right now, and that is a powerful thing. I would like to build a better future and telling stories that shine light on pathways forward seems like a way to do this.
Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?
I am also launching Clitter: pussy powered confetti, which is exactly what it sounds like, glittery vulvas, breasts, and ovaries in a fun party pack. Let’s be real. Dicks are ever present. Skyscrapers! Being drawn on peoples faces! thrown at bachelorette parties! They are running our country! It is time for the pussy to grab back. Clitter is my small way of increasing the yonic energy in the world and celebrate where we came from! Clitter will launch via Kickstarter Tuesday, January 16. People can sign up for clittery details at www.clitterparty.com.
I am also in the beginning phases of writing a TV show about a radical commune of midwives who are out to save the world. It’s very early phases but I’m pretty excited. The short is a way to test some of the ideas for the larger show.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
I would like to direct a large superhero movie, and make it funny-feminist-queer-diverse and totally badass. I don’t think there is a barrier to entry but just that it will take me some time to get there.
Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
Well, when I was making theater the biggest obstacle was live performance itself, I would want so many people to see it but was limited by the fact that the show could only exist at one time in one space and the instant I stopped performing it, it stopped existing. So I have transitioned to film, where I can use the incredible digital era we are in to share my work with as many people as who would like to see it whenever they would like to. In film I just need to find the financing to make my projects come alive.
Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
I go on walks in nature. Whenever I am feeling anxious, self-conscious or generally blocked I just need to go look at some plants or stare at some ants. They remind me of how all of the human things I engage with every day are just one part of the story, that there is so much going in the earth. By walking, taking deep breaths and looking out on nature I get invigorated, my ideas flow, and I am able to get back to my creative self letting go of my lists and worries.
Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?
I often think of myself as not a writer, that I cannot write. I have mostly created using my body and images, or directed other people’s words. I get frustrated when I try to write but it does not sound like what is in my head. But really it just takes practice.
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
Oof that is so hard! Well,this is a strange one but James Turrell’s Roden Crater is my favorite piece of art even though I have not been able to see it in person, but the man bought a crater in the ‘70s and slowly has been turning into the largest piece of land art. A place to engage with celestial movement and natural change. I love it’s scale and commitment to art as a way to engage with nature.
Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
Maya Deren. She lived unapologetically and just made her work. She was driven by curiosity and passion. Also Alejandro Jodorowski who has made work in an insane amount of mediums and is committed to magic and making.
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
Helping create the space and light the path towards a post-capitalist future where there is universal basic income and universal healthcare, and all citizens benefit from the technological advances and the selling of our data.
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Eating an insane amount of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
Hey babe, you look great! I know you are obsessed with the idea of being an actor, which is amazing, but why not think about directing a play? I think you will love it and it will give you the power to decide the kind of things you want to work on. Do not worry too much about which roles you get, just engage and make the things you wanna make. You are a maker and people will see and appreciate you for that. Also do not worry about what the boys think, you don’t need ’em, trust yourself you know what is going on. You know how to make good things, I promise. I love you so much, go get ‘em girl.
Q: Where would you most like to live?
I want to fund a collective live-work space in upstate New York with lots of land that artists in different mediums can come and build tiny houses on. Then we can have communal buildings where we share ideas, food and performances. Then go to cities to produce and show our work. Then return to nature to fill up and create.
Q: What is your idea of success?
Personally, to have the freedom and support to make my ideas come to life. Also the fall of the patriarchy and the closing of the wealth gap.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Being in the room with your favorite collaborators making magic happen. I want this to be the way I spend the majority of my time. Off of the computer and on the set, making.
Q: Final Thoughts?
Some things I am thinking about:
That when I am creating a crew for a project it needs to be majority female, this includes PAs, techies and actors. There is a shift of energy when there is a full majority of women in the room, ideas are shared differently, space is held differently. There can/should be men on set who can experience the power of a female lead team. At this point we can all see that men are pretty high risk, I want to create women lead works.
I am tired of stories about the incoming apocalypse. It is so easy to imagine how all of this turns out horrible, and in doing so I think we increase the likelihood that it will. I want to create stories about how we engage with the technology that’s coming and make it work with us, or how we rise up against corporations and the people regain power. Films have become bleak and sci-fi explosive or bleak and highly realistic. I want to make movies that are full of magic and power, that ask audiences to use their imaginations! That encourage people to tap into themselves, to be skeptical of all the ways we are encouraged to serve capitalism and to be kind to each other. We are all human and at our core we all want the same things: to keep ourselves and our families safe and fed, and to feel fulfilled.