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International Motion Art Awards: Jill Greenberg

By David Schonauer   Friday June 28, 2013


When she was attending the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1980s, photographer and filmmaker Jill Greenberg created a body of work she describes “drawings, paintings, and sculptures of little disgusting men in suits.” In 2012 she returned to the theme, creating a 6:30 slow-motion video that comments witheringly on the culture of power and entitlement. The work was inspired by a dinner she had with her husband at a Beverly Hills steak house: “I saw a table of eight white men in suits yucking it up with cigars, red wine, and expensive steaks,” she says. “I was also thinking about a photo I’d seen in the newspaper of Rush Limbaugh and another man laughing.” Greenberg’s video, which was named a winner of the first International Motion Art Awards, was made as political art: Collaborating with the L.A.-based non-profit Wake the Beast, Greenberg projected the video in Tampa, FL, during last summer’s Republican National Convention.

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International Motion Art Awards

Entitled

By Jill Greenberg

“Lately, I have been getting involved in political and feminist art events,” says photographer and filmmaker Jill Greenberg, who combines a thriving commercial career with provocative fine-art work, including her “End Times” series of crying toddlers, all shot with a signature stylized lighting. Last year she was having dinner with her husband at a Beverly Hills restaurant when she saw a table of what she describes as “eight white men in suits yucking it up with cigars, red wine, and expensive steaks.” The sight struck a chord and inspired her to begin thinking of creative a video commenting on the culture of power and entitlement. “I was also thinking about a photo I’d seen of Rush Limbaugh and another man laughing,” she says.

Greenberg has been moving back and forth between still and motion art throughout her creative life. “I have worked in many mediums since I was young,” she says. “I was doing slide shows with soundtracks in high school and did many also when I was studying art at the Rhode Island School of Design. In fact, my senior thesis was a slide show with a multi-track recording that I engineered.”

Greenberg created her IMAA-winning video in April 2012, with DPGabriel Beristain. “I directed the lighting as I do in all my videos,” says Greenberg. “I wanted it to have my classic look.” Low-angle lighting, similar to that in her controversial image of Senator John McCain, added a touch of visual menace, as did her decision to shoot the video in slow motion with a high-speed Phantom Flex camera. “Since the light was below the subjects, the heat waves are visible rising in front of their faces,” she notes.

 “After I shot Entitled Men, I was searching for a venue or organization to work with to project the video onto buildings,” says Greenberg. Her first thought was to have it projected over New York City’s Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Instead, she collaborated with L.A.-based non-profit Wake the Beast to project the videoonto trees and houses in Tampa, FL, during last summer’s Republican National Convention.

Shortly after that, Greenberg directed a PSA for Rock the Vote featuring women comedians talking about former Missouri Congressmen Todd Aiken’s infamous comments about “legitimate rape.” The phrase suggested the title of a pre-election exhibition featuring Greenberg’s Entitled Men video along with work by Shepard Fairey, Robbie Conal, and other artists. Greenberg talks about the politics of her arthere.

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