Interview with films4peace Artist: Janet Biggs

The 21st of September is World Peace Day, a day of ceasefire across the globe and the chance for artists and organisations to demonstrate acts of peace. The films4peace collaboration is a selection of films curated by Mark Coetzee and features some of the most innovative artists interpreting the subject of peace through film.

Aesthetica spoke to Janet Biggs, a contemporary artist who has had solo exhibitions at the Musée d‘art contemporain de Montréal (Montréal, Canada), the Tampa Museum of Art (Tampa, USA) in 2011, and The Mint Museum (Charlotte, USA) in 2010, about her film4peace.

A: Can you explain the idea behind your films4peace film.
JB: In 2009 and 2010 I spent two and a half months in theArcticas part of theArctic Circle Residency Program. During my trip, I experienced the otherworldly beauty of the Arctic, where I found a kind of terror that came from being in an environment that had no need nor desire for human presence. The awe and isolation I experienced in theArctic allowed me to reconsider our species as well as our complex relationship to each other and our environment. While in the Arctic it was necessary to carry both emergency flares and a high powered rifle in case of a polar bear attack (I had learned to shoot prior to the expedition) I filmed myself shooting emergency flares into the icy landscape. The act of shooting off a flare was both an aggressive attempt at asserting power and a cry for help. In my film4peace, this violent act is transformed into a sublime moment as the flare gently descends to earth like a falling star.

A: Why did you want to get involved in films4peace?
JB: Films4peace is a rare, generous, and exciting project. I was drawn to the opportunity to create a short film interpreting or responding to the idea of peace. In a world where corporations are expected to focus on profits, Puma is offering another option. The curator of films4peace, Mark Coetzee has brought together a diverse group of thought-provoking artists and encouraged us all to pursue our own visions. I am thrilled to be part of this group.

A: Do you think art has the power to transform the world’s attitude towards peace and war?
JB: Art presents the possibility of discovery and encourages people to think in new and unexpected ways.

A: You place yourself at the centre of your film, is peace an important element of your life?
JB: I think that peace is an important element in everyone’s life, whether they are able to experience it themselves, desire it, or actively work against it. I often use personal experiences as a way to examine larger concepts and ideas. I find that intimate moments can express epic ideas. My personal appearance in this film was necessitated by practical considerations (I was the only one of my crew who was certified to shoot a firearm) but also by a personal need to represent my relationship to this haunting location.

A: What do you want films4peace to achieve?
JB: I would like films4peace to be a catalyst for conversations about peace around the world. Anytime a discussion about peace occurs, there is the potential to positively change attitudes and actions.

See the film here:

Courtesy of the artist, CONNERSMITH., and Winkleman Gallery.