Tom Kalin: An Interview

Video Data Bank

2016 | | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Single Titles

Tags: AIDS/HIV, Activism, Experimental Film, Interview, LGBTQ, Sexuality, VDB Interviews, Visiting Artists Program

Tom Kalin is a screenwriter, film director, producer, and educator. As a key figure in New Queer Cinema, his work focuses on the portrayal of gay sexuality both in the age of AIDS and historically. Informed by his work with two AIDS activist collectives, ACT UP and Gran Fury, Kalin’s video work is characterized by appropriated images, original portraits, and performances.

In this interview, Kalin discusses how the direction of his own work was heavily influenced by the films of Andy Warhol, the subject of a current collaborative research project for MOMA. He distinguishes Warhol’s films as being some of the first to brazenly exhibit homosexuality.  He also talks about his roots in painting and realizing it was time to turn to video when he started forcing narrative structures onto his paintings. He earned his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at a time when the film and video departments were separate from each other and this played into his philosophy of video. Kalin delves into his fascination with anachronism stemming from his love for Derek Jarmon’s work, suggesting that anachronism in his films, “lacerated what was pretty about the image.” He says this juxtaposition, in detail and in subject matter, is a running theme of his work noting that, “In order to make change in the culture, sometimes work has to be uncomfortable.”

This interview was conducted by Solveig Nelson.

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