Private Project

Flowstate /North Brooklyn Artists: SOPHIA WALLACE

Sophia Kayafas and Sophia Wallace put together Wallace’s neon light installation “I am the Utterance of my Name” while they discuss her “Cliteracy” project. Through diverse materials and approaches, including large text, sculpture, installation and performance, Wallace’s art seeks to establish the clitoris in visual representation; a vital part of our understanding of the body. We see her banners, paintings and jewelry as the two artists talk about female identity in today’s society.

Episode 7 of the series.

  • Liz Sargent
    Strangers' Reunion, SLOW DOWN, Dancers (slightly out of shape), Every Moment Alters, Flowstate: North Brooklyn Artists
  • Sophia Kayafas
  • Liz Sargent
  • Minos Papas
    Tango on the Balcony, A Short Film About Guns, TUMI Perfect Journey,
  • Liz Sargent
    Strangers' Reunion, SLOW DOWN, Dancers (slightly out of shape), Every Moment Alters, Flowstate: North Brooklyn Artists
  • Sophia Wallace
    Key Cast
  • Sophia Kayafas
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Liz Sargent

LIZ SARGENT’s extensive background in dance, theater and film inform a unique style to stories with complicated subject matter. The NYTimes describes her work as “imaginative...both lovely and disturbing”.

Her short film STRANGERS’ REUNION is an exploration of the pressure to reunite across language and culture. The script for Ritz Carlton & Hearst was 1 of 5 winning films to be produced with RSA Hong Kong, Final Cut NY, Jungle Sound, Glassworks, with mentoring by Academy Award Nominee Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas). It was released internationally in six languages online.

Sargent’s New York EMMY winning short film SLOW DOWN (WNET/ALLARTS) captures the themes of LMCC’s River To River Festival: deceleration, stillness and reflection from a filmmaker's perspective. Work with acclaimed artists Pam Tanowitz, Caroline Shaw and BARD @ Fisher Center include: DANCERS (slightly out of shape), Every Moment Alters, What Came Before. ‘Rock Is Broken’ was filmed on the fire ruins at Jacob’s Pillow with MacArthur Award winning artist Eiko Otake. Upcoming short films in production with Helen Simoneau Danse and with Eiko Otake supported by UCLA’s Center for Arts & Performance & filmed at UCROSS.

Liz’s work as a producer with her production company, Cyprian Films, New York include the series Flowstate: North Brooklyn Artists (producer, dir episode 7), Tango On The Balcony, ‘A Perfect Journey’ for TUMI and Tribeca Film Festival, Behind the Mirror (The Orchard).

Film Festivals and awards include: Best Director Diversity at Cannes, Venice Biennale Danza, Dance on Camera Lincoln Center, Best Short & Best Actor at SOHO International Film Festival, Best Screenplay at BRAND Film Festival London, UNIONDOCS Summer Lab, finalist for AFI Directing Workshop for Women 2021, short listed for NBC Female Forward, and Asian Women Giving Circle grant recipient. Sargent is a member of New York Women in Film & TV and is on the short film awards committee for IDA (International Documentary Association 2020 & 2021).

Sophia Wallace is a mixed media artist who is transforming the way we talk about embodiment. Best known for her viral project CLITERACY, her artworks intervene in the weaponization of gender, as it is used to deny rights to girls, women and people with vulvas.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement


My relationship to North Brooklyn
After immigrating to NY from Cyprus in 1999, I chose to move to Williamsburg in 2003 during my last year as a film major at the School of Visual Arts. Williamsburg was an exciting, vibrant place at the time: I remember the abandoned McCarren pool; the wonderfully dilapidated East River waterfront; countless artists' lofts and exciting DIY spaces; constant parties and fresh music venues and vibrant locally-owned bars. I lived in an artists’ loft for almost 6 years and watched the area change fast: high rises went up and corporate chains moved in. Beloved watering holes closed. Artists lost their spaces and moved out. Along with these changes there came an influx of population - first it was the hipsters - then a wealthier population of yuppies (for lack of a better term) changed the collective sensibility of the neighborhood. I realized that I was part of this change in my own way when I had first moved to Williamsburg in ‘03. These population shifts brought the term “gentrification” to the forefront of our vocabulary. It was happening especially fast in New York. In Flowstate, I wanted to explore how these changes affected artists specifically.

Intrigued by artists’ perseverance
Why are artists drawn to NYC? What is the allure of this city and specifically of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick? I wanted to ask these simple direct questions of artists themselves. Moreover, I was interested in how artists survive. As a filmmaker my work needs personal discipline, and demands the vast majority of my waking hours. Many artists work in similar ways, but also need to balance a “day job”, or parenting, and still practice their art after hours or on weekends. Why do artists do this? What drives them? What challenges do they face, whether financial or personal? How do artists who are people of color or immigrant artists overcome the challenges of prejudice and racism? Does political art even have to be important to them?

A conversation about art that isn’t elitist
There are many uninformed impressions of who artists are - and that making art is not a real job; that it doesn't bring financial stability; or it’s for lazy people; or on the other end, it’s some heady, intellectual practice that the broader public can’t appreciate. I wanted to dispel some of these myths and reveal the inner workings of what it means to be an artist. Art isn’t born on the white wall of some boutique gallery. It comes from an artist's studio, their home, their very hands. I’m of the opinion that art is for everyone to enjoy without any prior knowledge or specialty. Many TV shows and documentaries about art focus on the academic side of art - and have artists making statements about their influences and where their work belongs and to which canon. Although there is value in that, I wanted to avoid any elitism and show artists for the real, regular people they are. Hence the casual, conversational approach filmed with verité cameras on location. I was going for an intimate portrait of artists, to help viewers connect with them and feel inspired by them. Additionally, I wanted all the artworks to be filmed, revealing their texture and scale, while avoiding “slideshows” of flat, digital files.

Time and Flow
“Flow” came up frequently during filming, hence our title “Flowstate”. This is the idea that the artist is completely absorbed in their work, “in the zone”, and their ideas are flowing unrestrained from them to the canvas. Artist Carlos Vela-Prado argued that this inability to stop working was to the detriment of artists’ quality of life. But also, this flowstate transforms one’s sense of time, which is also a theme in our show. Artist Matthew Benedict discloses that he doesn’t even believe in time - to him it’s a construct. The specific time during which we filmed was unprecedented: a global pandemic which seemed to make time itself stand still. Even in the city of New York, which as Fred Tomaselli says needs to constantly change and refresh itself, time in 2020 stuttered to a halt. NYC’s “flowing” population froze. The significance of time changed for each of us, begging us to ask questions of how we live.

Similarly, the resulting protests after the murder of George Floyd begged another question: one of racism and equality. I was eager to have artists address this. Each artist comments on the impact of these ideas - how they either questioned their privilege, or examined their impact on the neighborhoods they live in. The four African American artists featured in the show talk about how their work was always about how “blackness” is interpreted (Damien Davis) - or how their art isn’t considered “black enough” by many (Coby Kennedy) and how they don’t fall into preconceived ideas of identity (Lisa Corinne Davis). Derrick Adams talks about how he would like his recent work - a series which depicts African Americans at leisure in swimming pools - to be presented alongside images of protest, since those images of black people in happy repose are few and far between and need to be incorporated in the narrative around “blackness”.

The Show
My hope was to create a show that examined these questions and themes, and build a collective portrait of the diverse, vibrant artist community in North Brooklyn, the neighborhoods I love, and which are going through a time of great change. I wanted the show to be specific to its time. We shot right after the first wave of the pandemic in NYC, which meant that we were the first people our artists had interacted face to face with in months. We filmed through a heatwave, and tropical storm Isaias. We filmed just 6 weeks after the murder of George Floyd and many protests were still going on. By filming in the summer of 2020, I feel like we captured an important moment in the story of New York City as well as its artists.