Artist Statement

The artist fights for her voice in a world that doesn’t want her to speak. She risks her work being dismissed and herself declared “complicated”, “uncertain” or “irrelevant” unless she can define herself within a certain category.

  • Shayna Connelly
    Director
    Quiver, Gardening at Night, Every Ghost Has an Orchestra, Blunt Force Trauma, Yours is Not the Taj Mahal, signals: where do we go from here?
  • Shayna Connelly
    Writer
    Quiver, Gardening at Night, Every Ghost Has an Orchestra, Blunt Force Trauma, Yours is Not the Taj Mahal, signals: where do we go from here?
  • Justine Burchall
    Editor
    Every Ghost Has an Orchestra
  • Chris Connelly
    Key Cast
    “Voice of God Narrator”
    Ministry, Revolting Cocks
  • Meg Elliot
    Key Cast
    “Lead Actress”
    Quiver
  • Justin Jones
    DP
    Bananas Girl
  • Kahra Scott-James
    Sound Design and Mix
    Quiver
  • Film Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    women, feminism, arts, essay
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Film Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Sony
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Another Experiment By Women @ Anthology Film Archive
    New York City, NY
    March 27, 2019
  • Oregon Documentary Film Festival
    Portland, OR
    March 23, 2019
  • Experiments in Cinema
    Albuquerque, NM
    April 16, 2019
  • FilmArte
    Madrid
    Spain
    April 19, 2019
    Spanish Premiere
  • MicroActs
    London
    United Kingdom
    March 28, 2019
  • Georgia Documentary Film Festival
    Atlanta, GA
    Nominated for Best Cinematography
  • Chicago Underground Film Festival
    Chicago
    June 8, 2019
    Midwestern Premiere
    Honorable Mention
  • Gimli Film Festival
    Winnipeg
    Canada
    July 26, 2019
    Canadian Premiere
  • San Diego Underground Film Festival
    San Diego, CA
    August 25, 2019
  • Move Cine Art
    San Paulo
    Brazil
    September 20, 2019
  • The Awareness Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
Director Biography - Shayna Connelly

Shayna Connelly is a filmmaker based in Chicago whose work explores hauntings, liminality and the boundaries between documentary, experimental and fiction filmmaking. Inspired by a book on haunted houses shelved in the non-fiction section of her childhood library, Connelly’s lifelong obsession with ghosts led her to explore trauma, place, identity and the link between fear and desire. Her hybrid approach to cinema questions the strict categorization of film modes and genres. She enjoys breaking cinematic rules regarding character, action and structure while exploring subjectivity, surrealism and abstraction.

Her films have won awards at Women in Horror Film Festival, The Artists Forum, Big Muddy Film Festival, Berlin Short Film Festival, Cinepocalypse, Milwaukee Women's Film Festival, Columbus International and IC Docs. ARTIST STATEMENT is the final film in an eight film series called A MEMORY PALACE FOR GHOSTS. Films in the series have screened over 200 festivals including Palm Springs International ShortsFest, Chicago Underground, Sydney Underground, San Diego Underground, Brooklyn Film Festival, Bushwick Film Festival, Chicago Feminist Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival and Athens International among others. Newcity Magazine named her one of Chicago's 50 Screen Gems in 2016 and 2018.

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Director Statement

Artist statements are critical tools in building an audience and yet they are like photographs in that they are true only for a moment in time. The artist is always evolving and the artist statement changes accordingly. An artist statement draws boundaries around an artist’s work to lend order to chaos, demystify and concretize an ephemeral process which is invisible, illogical and boundless. Artist statements provide context for a body of work and to make an artist’s thematic obsessions clear to an audience who may have only seen a fraction of their output. Grant funding and exhibition opportunities require an artist to excel at analytical writing and art-making equally, though they radically different skills.

ARTIST STATEMENT acknowledges the importance of writing about one’s work, while recognizing that analysis can also interfere in the creative process. The more difficult the work is to categorize, the more important the artist statement becomes as a way to clarify an artist’s work. But the work and the context are still not enough for a female artist, who fights harder to make, exhibit and have her work accepted by an audience. The fastest way to legitimize a female artist is to have a male supporter champion what she does.

The film arose from my experience at festival Q&As talking my films. I noticed the range of comfort levels among my fellow filmmakers in talking about what they did. Even the most frequently asked question at a festival - "what inspired you to make this film" - could trip up some. The act of writing or talking about a creative process is an unrelated skill that must be developed in tandem with the work in order to survive as an artist. At the same time I became painfully aware of how singular the voices at some festivals were. Programs containing work by women, PoC and LGBTQ filmmakers were like a breath of fresh air.

Oftentimes the people in a position to help an artist’s career through funding, exhibition or promotion don’t empathize with alternate viewpoints and may cite “lack of quality” or “lack of experience” or “lack of merit” in their dismissal. This implicit bias results in the underrepresentation of women, PoC and LGBTQ filmmakers. The artist collective Guerilla Girls has been pointing this out for decades in the art world. These excuses uphold the status quo and ignore the fact that we don’t start from the same set of assumptions. Nothing will change until people in power reevaluate their selection criteria to see how they punish some groups while benefitting others. Even in the era of #metoo, little has changed in terms of onscreen and on-set representation. Women, PoC and LGBTQ filmmakers fight harder for what we achieve and it is more difficult for us to recover from missteps. These inequities are only some of the hurdles to overcome when we decide to work rather than curling up in a ball. Every finished film is a miracle. Some miracles are greater than others.