Full circle or triangle or quadrilateral? I am not sure there was any sort of linear movement in this longwinded rite of passage full of astounding obstacles that led me back to start off where I wanted to end up in the beginning.
This was the very first video I made when I returned to the United States of America in December 2014, just two weeks before Christmas.
Frail, broken – if not damaged, I was more guarded and protected than I had ever been but at the same time I was willing to wear my vulnerability on my sleeve. By a twist of fate, I had to shed my freedom when I returned to USA and cover up all the messiness of being able to be myself in Europe. I was “home” in familiar territory and it was time to go to work. I went back to the same temp agency and started working in an office. This plight is shown here, along with the simple fact that I had to let go of my passion and start censoring myself for social graces. What lies beneath is what got me into trouble in the first place.
Sometimes in order to move forward we need to go backwards a little bit and look at the history of our time in order to not make the same mistakes. Amiss an abundance of reverse culture shock, this film came about when I needed a change – as so many of my shaving videos in this series involve some depiction of mine wanting to reinvent myself by altering my physical appearance. I was experiencing extreme PTSD as well as reverse culture shock. I missed all the good and bad of Germany, as well as the USA. This was my way of handling it.
This is somewhat a sequel to “Smoke” – one of the very first films of the series that I made in the same location. The location was the “back alley” of a friend’s apartment where I stayed during my 6 months back in the USA before I left to go back to Berlin. This time, the situation was way different. I knew at this point that I was going to want/need to go to New York – there were too many demons in Philadelphia and I was facing a lot of strife with the seemingly dissolving support system I had there. I was starting to realize the pith of the relationships I had with people before left and all of the annals of 3 years away from them was building up to a lot of misunderstandings. The lyrics of this particular soundtrack are phenomenally adjacent to what I was experiencing.
One of the biggest challenges in life as aforementioned is confronting change in order to avoid similar mistakes that one has made in the past while maintaining who you are as a individual. There are nuances of personality that involve genetics, environment and/or nurture versus nature. No matter how desperately we try to break certain unhealthy patterns or behaviors (see: vicious cycle) – there is some comfort in the familiar.
A visual outcry of sorts in regards to the ongoing daunting task of being a veritable bag lady. The place to hang the hat cliché was an obvious nod to the unrelenting bouts of homelessness I’ve endured – my belongings always on my person and no personal place with which to put them.
There is a Juliana Hatfield song entitled “Hotels” in which she says, “Welcome me when I need a home.” This clause encompasses so much of my work in this series. When I came back to the USA there was a big change in the music I was allowed to use due to intellectual property rights (the reason I stopped posting my work on youtube). I learned how to circumvent this issue for the most part by using classical/vintage music tracks or internet only release selections like heard in so many of these films. Juliana Hatfield occasionally releases music via the internet, accepting donations, in order to avoid all the Capitalistic sociopolitical drama of the music industry. It works out famously because it correlates to my philosophy in terms of free reign (I’ve recently been advised to restrict my work because it has been downloaded and uploaded to porn sites for money – I’m more flattered than offended). So this film was me finding access to the rungs of a corporate ladder. I was on my way to the proposed good old American version of success. I was in contention for a very big job and endured an intense interview process that landed me in a hotel and wondering what my life will become.
Another stint in a hotel and another blatant reverse strip tease burlesque satirical ditty, the namesake of this piece is multifaceted per usual. I do have company in this film and he is a European who had no problem with me making the film in his presence. He was my bridge to the culture that I miss so much – and refueled my waning passion to create.
74. Banana 3
The third installment of what started this whole process came perfunctorily. “Banana” was the very first video in the series, made in between my 3 month stint and my 3 year stint in Berlin – when I knew I was going, I had found a job and a reasonable way to survive through temporary apartment rentals, and I had a love interest or two to keep me busy (besides the city itself). It was also the first serious art work that I showed at a festival for Art Connect Berlin who I began working for throughout my time in Berlin in varying capacities, mostly as a writer for their blog. There is also a second, “Banana 2“, and in “Banana 3” I wanted to again use the original song by PJ Harvey entitled “The Desperate Kingdom of Love” for obvious reasons. I couldn’t use the original song so I dubbed in a recording of myself playing it.
There have been so many spaces, spaces that have belonged to others. “I just want a bookshelf again,” I tell my friends when I explain how harrowing this destitution is. For the first time in a long time I had my own room (via AirBnB) that was all mine: no roommates, no arrangements, no situations. Just me. I felt the freest I had in a long time.
To view some or all of the entire series, see the full album on Vimeo:
Self = Portraits by Louis DeVaughn Nelson