We welcome Reb L. Limerick as one of our Featured Artists for the 2018 Film Festival: Force Majeure. Through language, voice, and collaboration, Reb L Limerick explores the weight of current relationships between humanity, sexuality, technology, and ecology.
Altered Esthetics Film Festival will feature Limerick’s work on Thursday, May 31st.
A lot of your work intertwines nature with elements of the internet. Can you talk a bit about creating your own digital landscapes and what that intersection means to you?
What is The Cloud made of? Water molecules or pixels? Where does it reside? The sky or the ground? Last summer, HomePaige (ongoing artistic collaborator Paige Carlson) and WurldWideReb (my primary digital alter-ego) explored these questions through the creation of a 9 episode web series. Hard Drive chronicled our 18 day road trip around the western half of the US in search of a more intimate connection with our data. We visited Google data centers, an iCloud storage facility, and a supercomputer center, finding ourselves overwhelmed by the level of secrecy and the amount of resources needed to power these monuments. As a video and performance artist, the resources I use to create my artworks are often more abstract, harder to quantify or ethically analyze. I find myself placing trust in physical hard drives to store my files, finding power in my embodied acapella voice to tell stories and inspire catharsis, feeling more present when I’m offline. Yet, I stay up to date on Climate Change data and policies by endlessly scrolling Twitter, a company known for lack of transparency around their own carbon emissions. As caring individuals in love with blooming Lilacs and obsessed with our smartphones, how do we hold these contradictions?
What do you wish the viewer will take away from your work in terms of environmental advocacy?
Hmm... I hope people leave feeling like CARING IS COOL. Not only is it cool, it is vital to the health of the planet and all living creatures who reside here. Once you care about something and make a commitment to it, your actions shift accordingly. Caring deeply takes on so many different forms. Three care-based practices I exemplify through my pieces in the festival are collaboration, listening, and speaking out! I hope people can leave feeling like they’ve made a new neural connection based on a sound, image, or moment of performative word play. I believe in the power of language to shift our daily actions. It may seem benign, but ever since I made the connection between the words “glitter" and “litter," I am more attuned to the presence of millions of micro plastic bits polluting our water, most of which are non-biodegradable toxic cigarette butts of course. I cannot expect people to leave the theater and quit smoking, but can hope that the presence of my work will inspire subtle epiphanies or energizing moments of reckoning.
Can you talk a bit on creating characters such as Ecca Echo, the ecosexual popstar, and using yourself to bring out different personalities?
Creating a persona is a way of giving myself permission to embody an altered version of myself. Through crafting a backstory, putting on a wig, and speaking through a fictional voice, I can explore my own multiplicity as well as connect with new audiences. Ecca Echo is a green-haired singer in a queer relationship with the Mississippi River. She practices Deep Listening down by the water, then echoes back what she hears to the world in catchy pop song format. When I slip on my green wig and enter Ecca’s headspace, I feel free to be the most eco-conscious, sensually-aware, glitzy, amplified version of me!
Can you give us some hints about the new work you’ll be screening?
I am thrilled to premiere my first ever film! I shot it on Super 8mm and hand processed all three rolls from which it is comprised. I titled it Light Hunt because holding the big ‘ol noisy camera, stalking through the northern woods in fall, was the closest I’ve come to hunting prey. Also, because celluloid film needs to catch light to make an impression and render an image. My light hunter character wears really quiet shoes (sneakers)!
Reb L. Limerick’s work will be on view opening night, Glacial Recognition, alongside Inside Voice, Improvising Eco Systems, as well as local, national, and international filmmakers.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Interview written by Chelsea Arden Parker, edited by Sarah Kass.